SEC teams have a practice of scheduling cupcake opponents late in the season. Where most conferences get their non-conference foes out of the way early, SEC teams often saves a game for the final stretch.
Looking at Auburn’s schedule, it sure appeared they were ready to feast on a cupcake in the penultimate week of the regular season. Sure, New Mexico State was a solid 8-3 and was riding a solid six-game winning streak. But the Tigers, hosting the matchup, were 25-point favorites, according to Caesars, signaling they should have won comfortably and the Aggies were supposed to leave with a check and a beating.
The Aggies left with a check. That was going to happen regardless. And they left with a beating … of Auburn. New Mexico State throttled Auburn 31-10, outgaining the Tigers 414-213 in total yards and holding possession for 38:50 of the game.
For New Mexico State coach Jerry Kill, this marked the second time in as many years he has taken down Hugh Freeze, having beaten the former Liberty coach last year 49-14.
How much did the Tigers pay to lose on Saturday? Here’s what you need to know.
The Tigers handed out one of the largest checks in the SEC this season. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Auburn paid New Mexico State $1.85 million for the Aggies to come in and pick up a win.
The Montgomery Advertiser reported Auburn also paid UMass $1.95 million, and Georgia paid $1.9 million to UAB. Auburn won the previous match 59-14. The Bulldogs beat the Blazers 49-21. Auburn also paid Samford $475,000 for a game earlier this season, and won that game as well, 45-13.
The Tigers have largely reaped the benefits of Freeze arriving to Auburn. They clinched a bowl game with a win last week against Arkansas, and are now sitting at 6-5, with a chance for their first seven-win season since winning nine in 2019.
Still, there’s no doubt Saturday’s loss will be an ugly mark on the review of Freeze’s first season in Auburn.