No. 10 Florida's defense suffocates No. 7 Auburn, drops Tigers from undefeated ranks

Bo Nix’s run of solid games came to a screeching halt in the Swamp.

No. 7 Florida’s defense clamped down on No. 10 Auburn’s dynamic offense on Saturday and handed the Tigers their first loss of the season in a 24-13 win.

Auburn (5-1) totaled just 254 total yards and couldn’t get anything going despite a host of turnovers by Florida QB Kyle Trask. The knockout from the Gators came when Lamical Perine went 88 yards for a touchdown to give Florida a two-possession lead with 9:04 to go in the game.

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This clinched the game for Florida. (Via CBS)
This clinched the game for Florida. (Via CBS)

Yes, an 11-point lead with more than half a quarter remaining was insurmountable for the Tigers. That’s how well Florida’s defense had flustered Nix and slowed Auburn’s rushing attack. And Auburn realized that too. The Tigers elected to go for it on fourth-and-12 near midfield with six minutes to go and Nix was forced to futilely scramble after rolling to his left and not finding any receivers open downfield.

The sign that this wasn’t the day for Auburn and Nix to move to 6-0 came in the third quarter. With Florida leading by four, Auburn got to the Gators’ 13. A three-yard completion was followed by a bad incompletion and then a false start on third down. Nix then made an ill-advised throw into coverage in the end zone that was picked off by Donovan Stiner.

Nix threw three interceptions on Saturday and was just 11-of-27 for 145 yards passing.

Kyle Trask fumbled 3 times

While Florida is now 6-0 and will move closer to the top five with this win, it’s hard to envision the Gators as a contender for the College Football Playoff at the moment. That has a lot to do with the uneven performance of Trask, who threw for two touchdowns while also fumbling three times. Two of those fumbles were recovered by Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown, who was stopped from a potential touchdown by the turf monster on the first of his two post-fumble recovery rumbles.

Trask — starting again in place of Feleipe Franks, who is out for the season with a leg injury — also suffered what coach Dan Mullen said was a “light” sprain to his left MCL after he was hit awkwardly in the second quarter. Trask was down in significant pain and went to the locker room after the hit but returned before halftime with a brace on his knee.

“It feels good right now,” Trask said after the game of his knee. “Tonight, probably not so good.”

Had Florida’s defense not flummoxed Nix and Auburn’s offense so much, it’s easy to envision a different outcome for the Gators.

Florida’s good. There’s no denying that. But are the Gators great enough to be a legitimate contender even in their own division? We’ll know a lot more after a trip to No. 5 LSU next week and the annual game against No. 3 Georgia on Nov. 2.

All isn’t lost for Auburn

It felt inevitable that Auburn was going to lose a game in 2019. And the Tigers still have plenty of big games remaining with matchups against three top-five teams in LSU, Georgia and No. 1 Alabama remaining on the schedule.

But Auburn and Nix will have to be a lot better than they were on Saturday to have a chance in any of those three games. Nix was flummoxed and off all day; it was the first time he had looked like a true freshman since the season-opening nail-biter against Oregon.

That’s not surprising. The trip to Gainesville was just the second time Nix had made a college start in a hostile road environment. And Florida is a lot better than Texas A&M.

There’s still some hope for Auburn to get to 10 wins and potentially make a New Year’s Six bowl game. But for that hope to be more than faint, the Tigers have to get some semblance of production from the offense against good competition.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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