Nashville, Tenn. — Auburn finished its up-and-down season with a spectacular performance.
A record-setting encore in the Music City Bowl.
Jarrett Stidham threw for a career-high 373 yards and five touchdowns in his final college game, and Auburn pounded Purdue, 63-14, on Friday.
The Tigers (8-5) opened the season with a top-10 ranking before stumbling in Southeastern Conference play against unranked and ranked teams alike. The Tigers finished with their first postseason victory since the 2015 Birmingham Bowl against Memphis and a whole bunch of records.
Auburn scored the most points by an SEC team in a bowl, topping Alabama’s 61-6 win over Syracuse in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1953. The Tigers had a chance to match the most points ever in a bowl at 70, most recently by Army in the Armed Forces Bowl last week, but took a knee at the Purdue 1 after a replay review overturned a very late TD run by Joey Gatewood.
“We’ve had some ups and downs this year,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said, crediting his seniors for keeping the Tigers together. “This was a big win for us.”
Stidham, a junior who already has declared his intention to leave early for the NFL Draft, got the Tigers off to a fast start, and they just poured it on from there.
“We just tried to make those explosive plays that we’ve needed all year,” Stidham said.
Auburn scored TDs on its first eight possessions. It tied the Music City Bowl records for most points and TDs set by West Virginia in 2000 — with 5:36 left in the first half. By halftime, Auburn led 56-7 with the most points scored in any half in program history after holding the ball for only 11 minutes. It was the most points by one team in a half in any bowl.
“I mean it was a thing of beauty to watch from the sideline to watch the guys make plays,” Malzahn said. “When we make explosive plays and we play fast, we’re a pretty good offense, and today it all came together. I really believe that will carry over to next season.”
Purdue (6-7) dropped three of its last four games in its second season under coach Jeff Brohm.
“That one snowballed faster than most,” Brohm said. “I’ve been part of games that were a bad outcome, but that one happened fast. Credit to them, they made their breaks. Every little thing that went wrong seemed like it could. We got behind the eight-ball early.”
Auburn started the game with the ball and needed only 63 seconds to set the tone, with Stidham finding JaTarvious Whitlow for a 66-yard TD pass. Whitlow also added a pair of short TD runs as Auburn led 28-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers outgained Purdue 586-263 in total offense and had only one three-and-out late in the third quarter. Purdue was intercepted twice and turned it over on downs twice. Auburn punted once all game.
Darius Slayton set a bowl record with TD catches of 74, 52 and 34 yards and finished with 160 yards receiving. Javaris Davis had a sack and an interception in the first quarter for Auburn, and Big Kat Bryant returned an interception 20 yards for a 45-7 lead with 12:29 left in the first half.
Camping World Bowl
No. 17 Syracuse 34, No. 15 West Virginia 18: Abdul Adams and Trishton Jackson made their Syracuse debuts memorable, combining to score three touchdowns and helping the Orange secure their first 10-win season since 2001 by topping West Virginia in Orlando, Fla.
Adams rushed for two first-half scores, and Jackson (West Bloomfield) hauled in a TD pass from Eric Dungey on the first play of the fourth quarter for Syracuse (10-3), which survived a game that featured eight lead changes. Adams and Jackson were both transfers who had to sit out a year, which by NCAA rule was satisfied at the end of the first semester.
Dungey completed 21 of 30 passes for 303 yards for the Orange, who trailed 18-17 going into the final quarter. Barely five minutes later, it was 34-18. Dungey connected with Jackson, the Orange got an interception one play later and turned that possession into a field goal by Andre Szmyt, and Jarveon Howard barreled in from 4 yards out with 9:59 left to cap the SU flurry.
Syracuse got a fourth-and-goal stop on the next possession, and from there the orange-clad faithful who came south from Central New York could start to celebrate.
Jack Allison, making his first collegiate start because West Virginia star quarterback Will Grier elected to skip the bowl game and focus on preparing for the NFL, completed 17 of 35 passes for 277 yards for the Mountaineers (8-4).
No. 12 Washington State 28, No. 25 Iowa State 26: Gardner Minshew II threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score and Washington State stopped Iowa State on a late two-point conversion in San Antonio.
Minshew passed for 299 yards to help Washington State (11-2) set a school record for wins in a season.
Minshew’s biggest play came out of desperation and it set up the winning score.
Iowa State (8-5) rallied from down 21-10 at halftime to 21-20 early in the fourth quarter before running back David Montgomery fumbled on the Cyclones 30.
Minshew, who had been held in check in the third quarter, escaped a third-down pass rush to flip a shovel pass that went for 20 yards. The play stunned the Cyclones, and Max Borghi ran in from 10 yards on the next play to put the Cougars ahead 28-20.
Iowa State’s last chance came after Brock Purdy scored from a yard out with 4:02 left. The Cyclones went for two, but a pass play was stopped well short of the goal line after a false-start penalty pushed the line of scrimmage back to the 7.
Purdy passed for 315 yards and Cyclones receiver Hakeem Butler caught nine passes for 192 yards. Montgomery rushed for 124 yards.