By Greg Ostendorf
AUBURN, Ala. – “At the end of the day, the crowd’s not going to impact the game other than the crowd noise.”
At least that’s what Kirby Smart thought going into Saturday’s game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. To be fair, his comments were probably taken a bit out of context, and he did say later in the week that the Auburn fans “do a really good job of creating an environment.”
But it was too late. It was already bulletin-board material for the Auburn faithful.
"I heard a statement that Kirby said he wasn’t going to be worried about the crowd, that the crowd wasn’t going to impact the game,” Auburn defensive lineman Marlon Davidson said. “To me, the crowd does. When the crowd is in your ear all game, it makes it hard for you to play. I think that’s what took over tonight. I think the crowd was what helped us win this game tonight.”
If you were there Saturday, you know the crowd had a significant impact on the game. It was as loud as Jordan-Hare Stadium has been since the 2013 Iron Bowl. From the opening kickoff to Jeff Holland’s sack midway through the first quarter to Auburn’s first touchdown to the celebration when it was over, the fans took the energy to a different level.
After all, it was Auburn’s first home game in over a month. The No. 1 team was in town. And the better the Tigers played, the louder the crowd got.
“The fans were nuts tonight,” Stidham said. “This was by far the best atmosphere I’ve ever been in. It was truly incredible. Our fans are the best fans in the country, and tonight, they showed it. Tonight, they brought it. It was a lot of fun.”
“We’re feeding off it all the time,” added Auburn safety Tray Matthews. “Our crowd is unbelievable. That’s why after every game when we win, we go and celebrate with them. They don’t have to come to the game. They pay a lot of money to come watch us play, so we’ve got to put on a show.”
“I’m really proud of our fans,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “Our fans were off the charts the whole game. They really helped us win this football game.”
The fans did impact the game – in a major way.
‘It’s truly a blessing'
Kerryon Johnson and his 233 all-purpose yards stole the show in Saturday’s 40-17 win over No. 1 Georgia, but Auburn’s quarterback quietly put together another solid performance.
Stidham, the first-year starter, went 16 of 23 for 214 yards, and for the second straight week, he threw three touchdowns to no interceptions. He also had a critical seven-yard touchdown run to begin the second half on a zone-read keeper.
“Jarrett played great,” Malzahn said. “We had some trouble protecting the first couple of drives and then things settled down. We were able to run the football and mix it up a little bit. I’m really proud of Jarrett. He had the running touchdown, and I feel that was big. When he runs it just enough, I think it changes everything.”
There weren’t as many deep passes with the exception of Stidham’s 42-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton to give Auburn its first touchdown late in the first half. But Stidham was smart, accurate and efficient. He made a lot of quick throws and let his teammates do the work like on the tunnel screen to Ryan Davis that went for 32 yards and a touchdown. Or the dump off to Johnson, who followed his blockers and went 55 yards for another score.
At the end of the day, it was everything Stidham had hoped for and more.
“This is why you play college football,” he said. “You grow up seeing games like this on TV, CBS, and it’s so much fun. I really can’t put it into words. You grow up watching this, and then to get an opportunity to play in a game like this, especially win like this, it’s truly a blessing.”
Another record broken
At this point in Daniel Carlson’s career, you come to expect that he’s probably going to break some kind of record every game he plays.
Carlson already became the SEC’s all-time leading scorer earlier this season, and on Saturday, after going 4 of 4 on field goals, he set the SEC’s all-time record with 88 career made field goals. The senior is now 19 of 25 on the season and 88 of 110 for his career.
With 16 points Saturday, Carlson continues to climb up the list of college football’s career points leaders. He’s now No. 7 all-time with 456 career points.
Greg Ostendorf is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: