On Louisville's first possession they tried a trick play with a back up QB throwing what can only be described as an ill advised wounded duck pass.
Tray Mathews was happy to step in front of the ball and return it deep inside Cardinal territory. It took Jeremy Johnson and the Tiger offense all of 5 plays to take full advantage of the miscue.
Things quickly turned ugly for Johnson as the next 2 drives ended with passes being intercepted.
Auburn's defense held Louisville out of the end zone the entire first half, and benefited from a missed Field Goal opportunity by the Cardinal kicker.
On Louisville's 5th drive, Linebacker Justin Garrett scooped up a loose ball and rumbled 82 yards for the second Auburn touchdown.
The highlight of the night for Auburn's special teams came with just 34 seconds left in the first half. Daniel Carlson kicked a 56 yard Field Goal that would have been good from 65 yards away.
The talk throughout fall camp had been about how strong Carlson's leg was. Usually we take that sort of talk with a grain of salt. Saturday in Atlanta, Carlson proved he could deliver.
The half ended with Auburn in command 17-0.
The second half started with Auburn getting the ball, and driving to the Louisville 33 yard line. On a 2nd and 10 play, Johnson rolled to his right and the DB came off of Ricardo Louis enough that Johnson could get him the ball, and Auburn had a 24-0 lead.
Louisville kicked a Field Goal, then Johnson threw his 3rd interception, The Cardinals capitalized and with the point after it was Auburn 24 Louisville 10.
What followed was a drive that Champions put together. Answering the Louisville score with 6 minute 12 second, 12 play 72 yard drive was just what the Doctor ordered. The defense was allowed to rest some, and the offense gained some much needed confidence. Auburn 31 Cardinals 10
The Cards answered with a drive of their own to cut the Tiger lead to 14 points at 31-17. On Auburn's next possession they didn't move the ball, and punter Kevin Phillips launched a monster of a punt for 55 yards and pinned the Cards at their own 19.
Auburn's defense allowed the Cards to convert 3 different 3rd down attempts and string together a scoring drive cutting into Auburn's lead again. Auburn 31 Louisville 24.
Auburn's offense was able to run the clock out to end the game and start the 2015 season with a victory. It wasn't always pretty, and there certainly is room for improvement. Coach Malzahn will have his team ready by the time we head to Baton Rouge and play LSU.