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Todd sparks Auburn past Southern Miss

Sep 6, 2008 - 9:23 PM AUBURN, Alabama (Ticker) -- Auburn's new spread offense under first-year coordinator Tony Franklin remains a work in progress.

Chris Todd passed for 248 yards Saturday as the 10th-ranked Tigers overcame four turnovers to post a 27-13 victory over Southern Mississippi.

"I tried to come out and lead the team, take care of the ball and be smart," Todd said of his first career start.

Todd got the start ahead of Kodi Burns, who is nursing a leg injury, and played well, completed 20-of-31 passes. However, the turnovers allowed the Golden Eagles (1-1) to stay in the game.

"(Todd) made good decisions in the first half," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We got a little lackadaisical in the third quarter, but sometimes you lean on your defense a little too much."

Three different Auburn running backs fumbled and Todd's interception led to the first of Austin Davis' two TD passes to Shawn Nelson after the Tigers opened a 24-0 lead midway through the third quarter.

Auburn put together drives of 73 and 64 yards on its first two possessions but came away empty, fumbling inside the Golden Eagles' 15 each time.

"Hopefully, we get it (the turnovers) out of our system," Tuberville added. "We gave them an opportunity to possibly get back in the game. We fumbled twice today in the red zone."

Robert Dunn's 32-yard punt return gave Auburn possession at Southern Mississippi's 26, and the Tigers finally scored on Ben Tate's 1-yard TD run with 13:10 left in the first half.

Tristan Davis added a 13-yard TD scamper to give Auburn a 14-0 halftime lead.

The Golden Eagles had a chance to score before halftime, reaching Auburn's 10, but a fumbled snap and sack led to Britt Barefoot's missed 44-yard field goal.

Burns took over for one series at the start of the second half and led Auburn to a field goal, then scored on a 1-yard run to make it 24-0 with just under seven minutes left in the third period.

Davis tried to rally the Golden Eagles, completing 32-of-49 passes for 266 yards. His 1-yard TD pass to Nelson got Southern Miss on the board with 2:33 remaining in the third period.

It was first points allowed this season by Auburn, which opened with a 34-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. In that game, the Tigers did not score their first offensive touchdown until the first minute of the third quarter.

Auburn was held to 132 yards on the ground, with Tate rushing for a team-high 71 yards on 15 carries.

"We were playing pretty well, but we made a couple mistakes as far as turning the ball over goes," Tristan Davis said. "But other than that, we did what we said we were going to do."

Austin Davis did cause problems for the Tigers in the second half, capping a 90-yard drive with a 17-yard TD toss to Nelson that pulled Southern Miss within 24-13 with 11:48 to play.

"Southern Miss is a good football team," Tuberville said. "Their receivers are going to give a lot of people problems. They really gave us problems."

Nelson finished with 12 receptions for 118 yards, while Deandre Brown had eight catches for 88 yards.