Auburn survived a scare from Samford, but reeled off 14 straight points in the fourth quarter to close out a 35-16 win on Saturday.
Clint Moseley, not usually known for his rushing capabilities, took a quarterback keeper 22 yards for the score with 11:28 remaining to give Auburn (7-4) the breathing room it would need in the win.
The Tigers added a 10-yard touchdown run from Onterio McCalebb with 2:17 to go for the final margin.
"They played us," Tigers coach Gene Chizik said. "We had to fight that one out to win it. We understand right now we have a lot to clean up and a lot to get better at."
Moseley went 13-of-20 passing for 167 yards and a score, and Mike Dyer rushed 30 times for 157 yards and a score for the Tigers.
Dyer, a sophomore, passed James Joseph --currently Samford's running backs coach --for 10th on Auburn's all-time career rushing list. He has 2,287 yards in 25 games at Auburn.
"We all know Michael's a good back, there's no question about it," Chizik said. "He had his opportunities today. We were going to give him his opportunities."
Dustin Taliaferro went 17-of-32 for 161 yards, with a touchdown and an interception for Samford (6-5). Kelsey Pope caught 13 passes for 90 yards and a score, while Jeremiaha Gates posted his first career 100-yard game, rushing 28 times for 119 yards.
Samford coach Pat Sullivan was honored with a ceremony before kickoff to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1971 Heisman Trophy he won at Auburn, becoming the school's first Heisman winner.
Samford closed within 21-16 on a 37-yard field goal by Cameron Yaw with 13:22 left to play, set up by a reverse pass from Pope to Gates for 28 yards into Auburn territory.
The Bulldogs had a fourth-and-1 from the Auburn 19-yard line, but opted to go for the Yaw field goal.
The Tigers scored the eventual winning touchdown on a 6-yard Dyer run with 3:25 to go in the third, capping off a 14-play, 70-yard drive in which Auburn handed off to Dyer on the last seven plays and he ran for 51 yards to put the Tigers up 21-13.
The Tigers put a renewed emphasis on the power run game in the second half --rushing 26 times for 160 yards after the break.
"We just felt like coming out of halftime we wanted to try to run the football downhill," Chizik said. "We felt like we needed to wear them out a little."
Samford had cut the lead to 14-13 with 7:22 left in the third quarter, driving 70 yards in 14 plays -- including 42 on the ground from Gates -- to set up a 28-yard field goal by Yaw, but the Bulldogs could never get the upper hand.
Auburn started off the scoring with a 32-yard strike from Moseley to Philip Lutzenkirchen down the seam, finishing off a nine-play, 55-yard drive and giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 7:07 to go in the first quarter.
The Tigers had a chance to add to their lead on the next drive, but Cody Parkey pushed a 32-yard field goal wide left and Samford took over at the 20-yard line.
The Bulldogs drove 80 yards on 10 plays from their -- aided by a late hit penalty on third down that gave them a first-and-goal at the Tigers' 6 -- and Taliaferro found Pope for an 8-yard score to tie the score at 7-7 with 14:27 left in the half.
Auburn answered right back with a 10-play, 60-yard drive -- ending on a 10-yard touchdown run by McCalebb -- to go up 14-7 with 10:03 in the half, but Samford closed within 14-10 with a 40-yard field goal by Yaw 2:32 before the break, a lead the Tigers took into halftime.
Auburn's offense put up 219 yards in the first half -- 131 passing 88 rushing -- but suffered from two costly lost fumbles around midfield, the second of which set up the Bulldogs' field-goal drive.