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Grading Auburn in its loss to Maryland

Dec. 30—Sifting through the good and the bad (and there was much more of the bad) from Auburn's 31-13 loss to Maryland in the Music City Bowl on Saturday:

Offense — D: The Tigers were definitely left singing the blues. And off key at that. Cue the hounds. They'll definitely want to join in howling over this one. A glimmer of late hope was freshman Hank Brown, the third of Auburn's three quarterbacks. He ended up leading the Tigers in passing.

Defense — D: Auburn's defense may have not been cued into the proper starting time. The Terrapins' first three drives ended thusly: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. And the Tigers found themselves staring at a 21-0 deficit. Are there any hounds left after the offense's suffering?

Special teams — C: A drop-kick onside kick is a novel concept. Having to resort to trying one midway through the fourth quarter is an ominous sign of Auburn's success for the day.

Coaching — F: Imagine if star Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa had not opted out. Might the Big Ten's all-time leading passer have left the Tigers with an even-more humbling start to the offseason?

Overall — F: Well, there's no chance Auburn will think of this bowl appearance and consider itself as riding an easy wave to 2024 success. Maybe Saturday's embarrassment will stoke some winter fire.