High marks for defense vs. Cal, but what about the offense?

BERKELEY, Cal. — For the first time ever, Auburn football is leaving the state of California with a win.

The Tigers had taken a trip to the Golden State on three separate occasions prior to 2023, losing to Santa Clara in 1936, USC in 2002 and Florida State in the 2014 BCS championship game.

But Auburn did enough to pick up a 14-10 victory against Cal on Saturday. It was often ugly, but as the saying goes: A win is a win.

Offense: D-

The Tigers played two quarterbacks − Payton Thorne and Robby Ashford − against the Golden Bears. They combined for a putrid 94 passing yards and completed just 10 passes. The offense also turned the ball over four times, putting the defense in some poor situations throughout.

A big catch from transfer tight end Rivaldo Fairweather late in the fourth quarter to put Auburn on top and some solid running from sophomore RB Damari Alston save this grade from being a complete failure.

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Defense: A+

Time and time again, Auburn’s defense needed to make a stop. And time and time again, the unit pulled it off.

From freshman cornerback Kayin Lee holding his own to DJ James pulling down a clutch interception, it was a complete performance for the Tigers’ defense. Junior linebacker Eugene Asante led the way with 12 tackles and a sack, and senior defensive lineman Marcus Harris stood out in his own right with a big tackle for loss.

Special teams: B-

With the offense struggling to generate much of anything, senior punter Oscar Chapman was tasked with booting five balls; he averaged 40.8 yards per punt. The return game, after having a big day against UMass in Week 1, was pretty quiet between Brian…


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