It's only Week 4, but Auburn's 17-14 overtime win over Missouri is assuredly in the running for the most bizarre game of the season. It's also a game that may end up saving coach Bryan Harsin's job for another week.
In a stunning, but nevertheless fitting end to a sloppy game from start to finish, Missouri running back Nathaniel Peat fumbled a would-be touchdown that would have given the visiting Tigers the win. Auburn's Cayden Bridges dove on the ball as it rolled into the end zone, however, bringing the game to a merciful end on a rare walk-off touchback.
Facing a second-and-15 in the bottom frame of overtime, Peat scampered around the left side for 20 yards, dodging Auburn defenders and making his way toward the goal line. As Peat reached for the pylon, however, the ball came out at the 1-yard line, resulting in the second turnover of the day for the visiting Tigers.
Mizzou was THIS close to an OT win in Auburn 🤐 pic.twitter.com/KN1GmSmHqw— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 24, 2022
Peat's fumble was the final shortcoming of a mistake-filled game that Missouri easily could have won. On the previous overtime possession, Auburn kicker Anders Carlson missed a 44-yard field goal attempt, but a Missouri offsides penalty gave him another chance -- a 39-yard attempt that Carlson nailed for the go-ahead score.
The game went to overtime only because Missouri couldn't end things in regulation. A failed fourth-down attempt by Auburn with 1:37 in the fourth quarter gave Mizzou the ball at its own 30-yard line. The Tigers promptly cruised down the field to get inside the 5-yard line, but instead of trying to punch it in for the touchdown, coach Eli Drinkwitz chose to have quarterback Brady Cook center the ball in the middle of the field to set up a field goal attempt by Harrison Mevis. That backfired in a big way. Mevis pushed the 26-yard attempt wide right to give Auburn the chance to win it in overtime.
Neither team scored in a second half that started with 12 straight drives that ended in punts -- eight of which were three-and-outs.
How the victory changes the fate for Harsin remains to be seen. Had Auburn lost to Missouri, Harsin likely would have been fired on Sunday, according to Bruce Feldman. However, the Tigers blew a 14-point lead after the first quarter, managing just 217 yards and abandoning the running game despite running on all 14 plays of a 59-yard touchdown drive to open the game. Even though the win pushes the Tigers to 3-1, the offensive ineptitude and questionable coaching decisions can't sit well the school's power brokers.
Those power brokers nearly orchestrated a coup in February to oust Harsin after a 6-7 record in 2021, and mass defections from players and coaches following the season didn't help. It's unlikely that they will get their wish and hand Harsin the pink slip after the win, but that outcome seems like only a matter of time.