Carl Pelini had hoped FAU would be competitive against No. 11 Auburn.
Unlike last season when the Owls faced ranked opponents, Pelini believed that his team was in a different place and ready for a challenge.
Saturday night, that wasn’t the case.
Auburn racked up 627 yards of offense en route to a dominating 45-10 victory at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers physically outmanned FAU from the opening whistle and totaled 421 yards on the ground –– which was most rushing yards the Owls had ever surrendered to an opponent in program history.
FAU simply couldn't stop the run, and Auburn used that to their advantage.
The Tigers quickly built a 21-0 lead behind the legs of running back Trey Mason and quarterback Nick Marshall. The duo sliced through the Owl’s front seven in the first quarter and when Marshall left the game with a shoulder injury, his backup Jeremy Johnson didn’t miss a beat.
Jeremy Johnson tossed a pair of touchdown passes with just over three minutes left in the first half, and the Owls stood on the sidelines facing their biggest deficit of the season.
While the defense was shell-shocked from the up-tempo attack, the offense was in just as much of a flux. After Jonathan Wallace fumbled on the team’s first possession, FAU punted six straight times and had no identity with their play calling.
Freshman quarterback Greg Hankerson spelled starter Jaquez Johnson for a series, but that experiment was short lived.
Jaquez Johnson (pictured right) finally settled down and found the end zone on a 29-yard touchdown run at the end of the second quarter, which gave the team a positive heading into the locker room.
Mitch Anderson opened the second half with a 31-yard field goal –– but after that –– it was all Auburn and their run game.
Cameron Artis-Payne scored a touchdown and became the fourth Tiger with a rushing touchdown on the night. Jeremy Johnson finished the game with 217 yards of total offense while four different Auburn players rushed for 60-yards or more. The Tigers averaged an impressive 11.4 yards a rush attempt, which is the most ever by an FAU opponent.
The Owls statistically had one of their worst offensive outings of the season. The unit mustered just 247 total yards and were a dismal 2-of-13 on third down conversions.
Jaquez Johnson completed just nine passes, which matched his career-low. He managed 133 yards passing and led the team with 58 yards rushing.
Linebacker Freedom Whitfield left the game in the first half and went to a local hospital with an apparent neck-injury, but he returned to the sidelines in the fourth quarter after the x-rays came back negative. According to Pelini he wasn't the only injury that made an impact.
"We had a lot of injuries tonight… I think it was six or seven (guys) throughout the course of the game, hopefully we can get most of them back by next Saturday." Pelini said.
The loss moves FAU to 2-6 on the year and sets up a situation in which the team will need to win their final four games to become bowl eligible. Next week the Owls will host a Tulane squad, which picked up their sixth victory of the year on Saturday with a surprising win over Tulsa.
"The important thing for us is these last four games," Pelini said. "We're going to leave it here, we're going to worry about Tulane and move on from here."