Circumstances couldn't have been much better for Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett to help establish himself as one of the top wide receiver prospects available for the 2015 NFL Draft Thursday night, but it was the Auburn defense that made the statement in the Tigers' 20-14 road win.
Without the help of suspended safety Jermaine Whitehead, and facing a raucous KSU crowd, the Tigers' secondary limited Lockett to just 45 yards receiving on six catches. Lockett (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) is a candidate for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver after pulling in 1,262 receiving yards last season. But the Thursday night primetime stage ended up being little more than a missed opportunity for the senior wide receiver. His worst moment was no doubt a would-be touchdown that he bobbled in the Auburn end zone before it was intercepted late in the first quarter.
Lockett didn't have a catch in the second half until KSU quarterback Jake Waters found him for a short gain with 5:50 remaining. By that time, the Tigers had the game all but put away with a 20-7 lead. He now has just 190 receiving yards for the year in three games, well under the pace he set as a junior last season. Meanwhile, Auburn's Josh Holsey, who saw increased playing time with Whitehead being out, piled up a game-high 11 tackles, 10 of them solo.
Auburn defensive back Trovon Reed all but sealed the victory with a fourth-quarter interception, although the Wildcats battled back with a late touchdown.
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall completed 17 of 31 passes for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns to spark an Auburn offense that had its nation-leading 13-game streak of 200-plus rushing yards emphatically snapped in Manhattan. AU rushed for just 128 yards on 45 carries. Marshall extended the Auburn lead early in the fourth quarter when he found D'haquille Williams on a fade route in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown, putting the Tigers ahead 17-7. Williams led all receivers with eight catches for 110 yards, and caught a game-clinching 39-yard pass on a 3rd-and-9 play that allowed Auburn to run out the clock in the final minutes.