Auburn vs. Tennessee

Auburn's Malik Miller (32) runs the ball in the first half. Auburn vs. Tennessee on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.

Third downs have been disastrous for Auburn for the better part of 2018. That, however, was not in the case in the first half of the Tigers’ face-off with Tennessee.

Auburn opened the game with no hesitation on third down, converting three third downs on its opening drive on the way to Chandler Cox’s one-yard rushing touchdown. The success on third down was a stark contrast to the team’s previous six games and particularly last week’s loss to Mississippi State, a game in which Auburn went 3-of-14 on third down.

Auburn finished the first half five-of-seven on third downs.

As crucial as third downs were for Auburn’s early success against the Volunteers, the Tigers’ defense standing tall when Tennessee reached third down was big, too.

Tennessee threatened to keep the pace with Auburn for most of the first half, but part of the Volunteers’ inability to do so stemmed from third down. Tennessee was four-of-nine on third down, which forced the Volunteers to punt twice and attempt three field goals. The second of those attempts by Brent Cimaglia was blocked by Marlon Davidson.

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