AUBURN – For the first time since 1991, Auburn lost to a non-Power Five opponent at home.
The Auburn Tigers (6-5) were on a three-game winning streak and had a lot of momentum going into the game, but the New Mexico State Aggies (9-3) put an end to it with a 31-10 victory.
“As good as last week felt and as complete as we played in all three phases, it was the exact opposite today," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "And it is very disappointing. Our university deserves a better effort than that, and that’s my job to make sure they give that, and we did not today.”
What are the biggest takeaways from the game?
New Mexico State dominated time of possession
New Mexico State held the ball for 38:50. Auburn held the ball for 21:10.
The Aggies ran 65 plays while the Tigers only ran 45.
It is hard to score when you do not have the ball. Closing that game will be a focus for Auburn as it prepares for what is next.
Auburn was never able to establish its running game
Auburn running back Jarquez Hunter had rushed for over 100 yards in three straight games. On Saturday, he only picked up 27 off of eight carries.
Quarterback Payton Thorne led Auburn in rushing with 38 yards off of 17 carries.
Diego Pavia was a problem for Auburn
New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia was able to do just about anything he wanted in this game.
Pavia went 19-28 for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He was able to get balls into tight windows, including some for touchdowns or big gains.
“A moving quarterback is always difficult to go against, so we’ve just got to do a better job of containing them," said Auburn cornerback Keionte Scott. "Then when he does scramble and throw those radical balls, we’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.”
The fortunate thing for Auburn is Pavia has been compared to Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe, who Auburn will face next week.
Auburn's red zone defense needs work
New Mexico State went 4-4 in the red zone.
Auburn did make them earn every yard when they got down there, but points were still scored. Figuring out how to limit those red zone touchdowns to field goals will pay dividends.
“In the beginning, we always start out a little slow," Auburn defensive back Jaylin Simpson said. "I thought that’s what was going on, but I don’t know, man. They wanted it more than us. Flat out. That’s just how I feel.”
The only area Auburn won was penalties
Auburn was penalized nine times for a total of 65 yards. New Mexico State was penalized 12 times for 105 yards.
Holding was a problem for Auburn's offensive line earlier this season, but that has gotten better in recent weeks. Three of Auburn's penalties were holding, and one was a false start.
The offensive line needs to get back to what was working to ensure those drive-killing penalties did not happen.
Auburn will face the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1) next week at home inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT, and CBS will have the broadcast.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.