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Auburn comes back to thwart Utah State's upset dream

Defending national champs escape with a victory in the season opener. Dave Miller

Print This September 03, 2011, 03:45 PM EST

Barrett Trotter rediscovered some of that Cam Newton magic.

The new starting quarterback at Auburn rallied his team to an incredible 42-38 come-from-behind victory over Utah State at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday afternoon, preventing the defending national champion Tigers from suffering a major upset loss in the season opener.

Facing a 10-point deficit, the Tigers scored two touchdowns in the final 2:07 behind the arm of Trotter, who finished 17 of 23 passing for 261 yards and three touchdowns, and the legs of Mike Dyer. In his first start for the Tigers, Trotter was turnover free, as well.

Before Saturday afternoon, the 1978 Notre Dame squad was the last defending national champion to lose to an unranked team to begin a season. The Irish fell to Missouri 3-0 in that game.

A year after almost knocking off Oklahoma, Utah State fell short once again.

Entering the game just 1-53 all-time against ranked teams, with the only win coming against Fresno State when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 25, Utah State thoroughly outplayed Auburn until the final minutes. The Aggies' offensive line dominated, paving the way for the team to record five touchdowns on the ground, and Utah State compiled long scoring drives all afternoon.

Clinging to a 3-point lead with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Aggies head coach Gary Andersen dialed up a fake field-goal attempt, which the Aggies converted on a catch that at first appeared as if it was trapped by the receiver. The Aggies then punched it in for a 38-28 lead with 3:38 remaining.

Auburn scored on a quick 15-yard scoring pass from Trotter to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen to make it 38-35. Wide receiver Emory Blake then recovered a beautiful onside kick to set up the game-winning drive. Onterio McCalebb had runs of 10 and 14 yards to set up fellow running back Mike Dyer's score with 30 seconds to play to complete the Auburn comeback.

WAC member Utah State has yet to beat a ranked opponent on the road in 43 attempts.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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