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Rue's Rant on College Sports in Alabama


November 1, 2009 3:28 PM

Todd Bounces Back in Auburn Win

Chris Todd throws pass against Ole Miss (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)

I was wrong.

There, I said it, but don’t tell my wife.

Before Auburn played Ole Miss, I wrote that the Tigers should bench starting quarterback Chris Todd in favor of backup Neil Caudle if they stood any chance of upsetting the Rebels.

Well, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn stood by their man and he delivered. Todd wasn’t great, but effective, completing 12-of-22 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ stirring 33-20 Southeastern Conference victory that snapped their three-game losing streak.

Senior running back Ben Tate had another big day, rushing for 144 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown jaunt, as Auburn’s offense came back to life against the nation’s ninth-ranked defense.

Auburn’s defense, which had been a sieve during the losing streak, twice came up big in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory. Ole Miss started two drives inside Auburn territory in the period, but didn’t score either time. Defensive end Antonio Coleman had his best game of the season with five tackles, two sacks and four quarterback hurries. Defensive back Walter McFadden alertly picked off a tipped pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter during a 21-point outburst in the first seven minutes of the period that gave Auburn a commanding 31-7 lead.

All-in-all, it was a very satisfying win for the Tigers (6-3, 3-3 SEC) as they became bowl eligible.

Moving forward, the Tigers should have an easy time with Furman in their upcoming homecoming game and then comes games against their two biggest rivals, at Georgia on Nov. 14 and at home against Alabama on Nov. 27.

Auburn already has exceeded my expectations and an upset against either Georgia or Alabama would make Chizik’s first season an even more remarkable success.

*****

Magic City Classic

A&M's Thomas Harris runs in for a TD. (Photo by Linda Stelter/Birmingham News)

Perhaps, it was the economy or maybe the NASCAR race that was being held in nearby Talladega on the same weekend or it could have been the rain. Whatever it was, attendance at the Magic City Classic was down more than 13,000 from the record crowd of 69,113 at the 2008 game.

A crowd of only 55,322 watched the Alabama A&M Bulldogs win their fifth consecutive game in the 68th Classic, defeating the rival Alabama State Hornets 21-7 Saturday at Legion Field.

A&M freshman quarterback Deaunte Mason and wide receiver Thomas Harris connected on TD passes of 57 and 22 yards to spark the victory as the Bulldogs improved to 35-30-3 in the series.

Despite the falloff in attendance, the atmosphere at Legion Field was still electric as thousands of tailgaters gathered outside without going inside the stadium for the game. And celebrities such as Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey and Brian McKnight were in town to add to the festivities.

*****

Briefly …

Troy coach Larry Blakeney earned his 150th career win Saturday as the Trojans (6-2, 5-0) routed Louisiana-Monroe 42-21 to solidify their hold on first place in the Sun Belt Conference. Senior quarterback Levi Brown had another big game for Troy, throwing for 378 yards and four touchdowns … Joshua Harris completed 14-of-21 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns to lead Tuskegee to a 40-6 win over Lane College Saturday as the Golden Tigers (7-2, 7-1 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) moved within one win of earning their fourth consecutive SIAC title. Coach Willie Slater's four-year career record at Tuskegee is now 39-5. … Top-ranked Division II North Alabama (10-0, 7-0) defeated Arkansas-Monticello 27-13 Saturday to secure the Gulf South Conference championship in Terry Bowden's first season as head coach of the Lions … Finally, UAB quarterback Joseph Webb continues to astound. He had 304 yards total offense, while throwing for two touchdowns, rushing for a touchdown and catching a touchdown pass in the Blazers’ 38-33 win at UTEP.

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