New Mexico State throttles Auburn for first win over SEC team

Diego Pavia throws 17-yard touchdown pass vs. Auburn (0:36)

Diego Pavia throws 17-yard touchdown pass vs. Auburn (0:36)

Diego Pavia passed for 201 yards and three touchdowns as New Mexico State upset host Auburn 31-10 on Saturday for the Aggies' first win over an SEC team.

New Mexico State (9-3) outscored the Tigers (6-5) 21-3 in the second half after coming in as a 25½-point underdog. The Aggies, who have already clinched a spot in the Conference USA championship game against Liberty, had lost their first 27 meetings against SEC teams.

"You don't get many opportunities like this," New Mexico State coach Jerry Kill said. "We're playing a Southeastern Conference football team, and we really dominated the football game most of the time."

The former Minnesota coach called it "one of the biggest wins New Mexico State's had in a long time" and "one of the greatest wins I've ever been part of."

The Aggies put away their seventh straight victory with two successful gambles in the fourth quarter.

New Mexico State converted a fake punt from its own territory on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Pavia then hit Eli Stowers for a 2-yard touchdown on another fourth-down gamble to make it 24-7. It ended a 16-play, 83-yard drive that worked 9:58 off the clock and left Auburn's struggling offense, which was outgained 414-213 in total yards, little chance to get back in it.

The win was the second largest by point spread this second, behind only Texas State's 42-31 decision over Baylor on Sept. 2, when the Bobcats were a 26½-point underdog.

Pavia completed 19 of 28 passes and ran eight times for 35 yards. Stowers lined up at quarterback and tight end and ran for 19 yards while catching four passes for 48 yards.

Payton Thorne completed 15 of 19 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown for Auburn while gaining 38 yards on 17 runs.

The Aggies quieted Jordan-Hare Stadium when Pavia's 9-yard touchdown pass to Kordell David closed an opening drive that was assisted by a pair of pass interference penalties. Auburn fans didn't have a whole lot to cheer about the rest of the way.

New Mexico State got a whopping payday for the game -- and a big win.

"How about that -- $1.7 million and we won the game," Kill said, smiling.

Auburn came in on a three-game winning streak, all against SEC teams, while allowing only a combined 38 points. New Mexico State nearly matched that point total while handing the Tigers their largest upset loss in the past 45 years.

"It was the exact opposite today," Auburn coach Hugh Freeze said. "It's very disappointing. Our university deserves a better effort than that."

Freeze, in his first season at Auburn, will likely be happy not to see New Mexico State again any time soon. His Liberty team was a 24-point favorite last season when it lost 49-14 to the Aggies; it was the last time a team was at least a 21-point underdog and won by at least 21 points.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.