AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn got the quick pace it wanted on Saturday night against Florida Atlantic.
The Tigers scored touchdowns the first three times they touched the ball and went into cruise control in dismantling Florida Atlantic 45-10 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Tre Mason scored on a 8-yard run on the game's first series, Corey Grant followed with a 43-yard run one play after a Owls turnover and Nick Marshall scored on a 10-yard to help Auburn build a 21-0 lead after eight minutes.
The Tigers expanded the margin to 38-7 at halftime and played mostly backups in the second half.
"Any time we get our pace going, it is a good thing and we were able to do that (early)," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Once we got the lead, it was different. We were trying to run the clock out."
Auburn showed no drop in intensity, especially in the early going against FAU after its 45-41 win over No. 7 Texas A&M last week.
"There was a lot of questions about how we would respond after a big win," Malzahn said. "I'd say our guys answered that by jumping on them early and taking care of business."
The Tigers improved their record to 7-1, a stark contrast to last year's 3-9 season that resulted in the firing of coach Gene Chizik.
Florida Atlantic, in its first year in Conference USA, fell to 2-6.
"I told the guys that we were going to leave it here," FAU coach Carl Pelini said. "We're going to worry about Tulane (next week's opponent) and our upcoming conference games and that's it."
The Owls were banged up in the game, including linebacker Freedom Whitfield. After making a headfirst tackle into the chest area of Auburn punt returner Chris Davis in the second quarter, Whitfield was taken to a local hospital.
Whitfield was attended to for 11 minutes on the field before being carted off to an ambulance. He was released from the hospital and was in the locker room after the game.
"It is scary when you first walk up," Pelini said. "I thought he was out cold. When you first walk up, you are not sure if he is out or if he is just not moving. When he came to and answered a couple of questions, although incorrectly, he was moving his arms, but he was still pretty out of it. It was great to see him walking back in that locker room, that is for sure."
Auburn backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw touchdown passes of 36 and 67 yards to Sammie Coates, and four Tigers rushed for one touchdown each as Auburn racked up more than 600 yards for the third straight week, finishing with 628.
Auburn, which entered the game ranked eighth nationally in rushing at 300.1 yards per game, improved on that number with 422 against the Owls.
Coming off an upset 45-41 win over then-No. 7 Texas A&M last week, Auburn finished its non-conference schedule. It will now focus on SEC play the rest of the year, starting with consecutive road trips to Arkansas and Tennessee before finishing with home games against rival Georgia and top-ranked Alabama.
"We have a four-game stretch coming on," Auburn defensive end Dee Ford said. "For the next four weeks, we need to remember what you do in November. We need to take everything we've been doing to the next four games."
The Tigers didn't waste any time getting rolling, taking the game's opening drive 78 yards in six plays for a score barely two minutes in. Auburn capped the series with an 8-yard Mason touchdown run. Marshall's 46-yard burst up the middle on a quarterback draw keyed the possession.
A minute-and-a-half later, Ford popped the ball loose from FAU running back Jonathan Wallace and Tigers defensive back Jermaine Whitehead recovered and returned 11 yards to the 43. One play later, Grant raced around right end, scoring untouched down the right sideline, to put Auburn up 14-0 with only 3:36 elapsed off the clock.
Florida Atlantic picked up a first down on the ensuing series on Jacquez Johnson's 2-yard sneak on third-and-1, but the Owls were to forced to punt three plays later.
FAU's Sean Kelly boomed a 63-yarder that Auburn's Davis caught at the 2 with his momentum carrying him into the end zone. He started to his right but then found a crease on the left side and slid through the opening and down the sideline 72 yards to the FAU 28.
Four plays later, Marshall scored untouched on a 10-yard run to the left side, increasing the lead to 21-0 with 6:54 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers padded the margin to 28-0 early in the second quarter when Johnson, on his first play after entering the game, fired a 36-yard TD strike to Coates.
Johnson came in the game after Marshall, Auburn's junior college starter, was injured on a sack in the second quarter, sustaining an apparent shoulder injury. Malzahn didn't provide any details after the game.
"No, there's no update at this time," Malzahn said.
Cody Parkey connected on a 43-yard field goal and Johnson and Coates hooked up on a 67-yard TD bomb to make it 38-0 with 3:10 to go before intermission.
FAU scored on the ensuing series when Johnson ran 29 yards off the left side with 2:13 left in the half, completing a three-play, 67-yard drive that took just 47 seconds.
NOTES: The 72-punt return by Davis was Auburn's longest since 1996 when Robert Baker returned one 79 against South Carolina. ... Auburn won its 300th game in history -- and its sixth in nine games this year -- when scoring 30 or more points, including its last 83 straight. The Tigers are 300-4 in games they score 30. ... Auburn recognized its 1983 SEC Champions, led by then-sophomore Bo Jackson, the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, on their 30th anniversary at the game. The team, Pat Dye's third at Auburn, went 11-1 and finished third in the Associated Press poll and was declared national champions by the New York Times.