By Jake Winfrey
Entering Saturday night's matchup against Mississippi State, Auburn was in the midst of a dreadul 686-day, 10-game Southeastern Conference losing streak.
And, had it not been for the late-game heroics of quarterback Nick Marshall, the Tigers would have had to wait yet another week to get back to their winning ways.
The junior quarterback found tight end C.J. Uzomah on an 11-yard pass in the back of the end zone with 10 seconds remaining in the game to give the Tigers (3-0, 1-0) a much-needed SEC victory over the Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1).
"We didn't even think about that (the losing streak) heading into the season," Malzahn said. "Any time you win your first SEC game, it gives you great momentum. I'm really proud of the guys for that."
Marshall showed some inconsistency throughout the game but really buckled down when it counted for the Orange and Blue.
With just 1:56 left in the game, the signal-caller led Auburn on a 12-play, 88-yard drive, in which Marshall completed 6 of his 8 passes for 66 yards. He also gained an additional 19 yards rushing, including a huge third-and-10 conversion to set up the Tigers' winning score.
"He looked fairly natural in the last two minutes," Malzahn said. "I don't think he made a bad throw in that final drive. I'm really proud of him."
‰ The Golden Foot: Cody Parkey was once again brilliant for the Tigers on Saturday. The senior placekicker connected on field goals of 19-, 40- and 47-yards to vault himself to the top of the conference in kicks made for the 2013 season. Parkey has made seven kicks in three games, one more than Kentucky's Joe Mansour, who's made six on the year.
‰ He Can Do It All: Marshall accomplished a rare feat on Saturday. Early in the third quarter, the gunslinger rolled to his right and fired a pass that was tipped by a Mississippi defender right into the hands of Marshall, who proceeded to make a man miss before racing down the sideline for a 37-yard gain. It was Marshall's first — and presumably, his last — catch of the season.
‰ Slippery Football: While the Tigers did escape with the victory, coach Malzahn will definitely be looking to rectify one area of concern for his team — fumbles.
Auburn put the ball on the ground four times Saturday night — losing one — bringing their season total to nine, with three lost to the opposition.
‰ Streak Broken: Mississippi State's Jameon Lewis scored on a 14-yard reverse midway through the first quarter, snapping a string of 20 straight possessions in which the Tiger defense had not given up a touchdown. The last play to find the end zone against the Orange and Blue was a Washington State score at the 6:18 mark of the second quarter in the season opener.