By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) – Jarrett Stidham passed for 264 yards and two touchdowns, and Kerryon Johnson ran for three scores to lead No. 13 Auburn to a 49-10 victory over No. 24 Mississippi State on Saturday night.
The Tigers (4-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) established themselves as the most likely challenger to No. 1 Alabama in the Western Division with an explosive offensive performance. The Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2) have lost two straight lopsided games since blowing out LSU to start a string of three matchups with Top 15 teams.
Stidham launched a handful of deep balls for Auburn, including a 47-yard touchdown to a wide-open Will Hastings and a 57-yarder to Eli Stove from his own end zone. He wound up 13-of-16 passing.
Johnson gained 116 yards, including an early 59-yarder, in a strong follow-up to his five-touchdown effort in a 51-14 romp over Missouri.
Backup quarterback Malik Willis got into the act with a 67-yard run in the final minutes, thrilling the smattering of fans still remaining.
Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald passed for 157 yards and ran for 56 but was intercepted twice.
The Bulldogs had two touchdowns overturned on replay in the first half, ultimately scoring after a ruling that Fitzgerald was tackled inside the 1. Earlier, Jeffery Simmons knocked the ball loose from Stidham and Montez Sweat picked it up and took it to the end zone.
The ball had been blown dead after the official called it an incomplete pass. Replay ruled it a fumble and gave it to Mississippi State at Auburn’s 32, but the Bulldogs wound up only with a field goal.
Mississippi State: Moved the ball at times but went 5 of 19 on third down and converted just two of six fourth-down attempts. That included a failed fake punt in the first half. Fitzgerald completed 13 of 33 passes and ran 13 times.
Auburn: The defense kept up its strong play while offensively Auburn had seven plays of 30-plus yards. Stidham set up one score with a 49-yard pass to Darius Slayton after Johnson took a direct snap and Stidham got the ball on a reverse.
FOURTH & GO
Auburn also had a fourth-down gamble, with good results. Johnson scored on a fourth-down run in the first quarter. Auburn initially lined up to kick before coach Gus Malzahn called a timeout amid boos from the crowd, and decided to go for it.
Mississippi State has an open date before hosting BYU on Oct. 14.
Auburn hosts Mississippi in another SEC West game.