The Auburn Plainsman sports staff gives their preview of Saturday's matchup between No. 12 Auburn and Ole Miss in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Will Sahlie, sports editor
Saturday’s matchup will be between two teams heading in completely different directions.
Auburn’s season is starting to feel similar to last season, in which Auburn rattled off six straight wins after two early losses.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, is coming off a 63-point drubbing in Tuscaloosa last weekend. Now, the Rebels face an Auburn team that looks to be shaping into form.
Auburn will look to complete the two-game sweep of the Mississippi schools, and should have no problem doing so. Ole Miss’ defense will give Auburn plenty of opportunities to hit on some big plays, including some in the run game, which the Tigers have lacked this season.
Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham will have lots of chances to continue hitting on deep, over-the-top throws. If he continues to be accurate with the deep ball, things could get ugly in a hurry for Ole Miss.
The only worry I believe Auburn faces is a slow start with the early morning kickoff. If the Tigers can jump on the Rebels early, Auburn will coast to its third-straight blowout victory. However, if Auburn comes out flat and looks sloppy early on, Ole Miss has the offensive potential to keep the game close.
Auburn has passed nearly every test thus far in SEC play, and I think that continues Saturday.
Score prediction: Auburn 41, Ole Miss 10
Nathan King, assistant sports editor
There are few teams in the country right now feeling better about themselves than Auburn.
Three straight wins behind the SEC's most efficient passer in Jarrett Stidham have propelled the Tigers into conference title contention. The Tigers now have a chance to pick up serious momentum against Ole Miss heading into a daunting three-game road trip. The Rebels are reeling, and will hope to simply compete on Saturday after being torn apart on the other side of the state last weekend by No. 1 Alabama. Shea Patterson has Johnny Manziel-esque potential in him, which will eventually spell trouble for the SEC. That being said, it's not likely that Patterson will have his coming out party against the only defense in the country to have not allowed more than 14 points in a game this season.
Auburn can't come out sleepwalking and consistently turn the ball over like they did in their last early kick against Mercer. Five turnovers will lose you a game against most Division I opponents. However, the Auburn offense has found their groove since then. Stidham's deep-balls are becoming deadly, while a healthy backfield headlined by SEC touchdown leader Kerryon Johnson has a chance to dominate. Kamryn Pettway has been frustrated with the way his season has started, but the bulldozing back had a career-high 236 yards against this Ole Miss defense last year in Oxford. Pettway and Johnson combine for over 200 on the ground, Stidham takes advantage of the play-action opportunities and Kevin Steele's vaunted defense contains Patterson enough to halt any offensive flow for the Rebels.
Score prediction: Auburn 47, Ole Miss 7.
Tyler Roush, sports reporter
Being rolled into Jordan-Hare Stadium by a Crimson Tide does not have the Rebels running strong.
The Rebels boast the No.1 passing offense in the SEC, but its impressive statistics are canceled out by ranking last in rushing. Shea Patterson has shown that he could be a Johnny Manziel-type quarterback, but he certainly doesn't win like one. Impressive scrambling ability partnered with big-play possibility does not add up too well with a rushing offense that averages 2.9 yards per attempt.
Last week they faced the No. 6 defense at Bryant-Denny Stadium, now they tackle the No. 9 defense on The Plains.
Ole Miss is tied for the No. 100 defense with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte by allowing 430 yards per game. Auburn, who ranks No. 3 in the SEC in total offense, is going to take advantage of an Ole Miss team still searching for its identity. The Tigers will most likely be without star running back Kamryn Pettway, but if he were to return, Pettway would dominate combined with the efforts of Kerryon Johnson and every-other-game running back Kam Martin.
All signs indicate the Rebels will struggle to achieve a first down, with Auburn only allowing a conversion on 31.3 percent of attempts.
Score prediction: Auburn 56, Ole Miss 7
Sumner Martin, sports writer
Following a 66-3 beatdown in Tuscaloosa, it's gut check time for the Ole Miss Rebels. Another bad loss this weekend, and the season continues to spiral out of control for first-year head coach Matt Luke.
Coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers, on the other hand, are soaring with confidence after back-to-back blowout wins against Missouri and Mississippi State to open SEC play. Facing a defense like Ole Miss at home, that just gave up over 60 points, has Jarrett Stidham and company licking their chops, hoping for another offensive explosion Saturday morning.
People can't expect Ole Miss to come in and knock off the Tigers in Jordan-Hare, but Rebel fans just want a competitive game. An 11 a.m. kickoff may be just what Ole Miss needs to keep this game interesting in the first half, considering Auburn's history with early games. But, even the early kickoff won't help the Rebels much in this contest.
There is no question that Shea Patterson is explosive, but this Auburn defense has yet to give up more than 14 points all year. The Tiger defense, statistically speaking, is better than Alabama, and Alabama held Patterson and the Ole miss offense to 3 points. Auburn is allowing 142 passing yards per game, which is fifth best among FBS teams, while Alabama is sitting at 175 per game.
The Ole Miss defense has been good against the pass, but that's only because teams don't need to throw the ball when they can run all over you at will. Stidham has been on fire but he shouldn't have to do much Saturday. With an improving offensive line and a scorching hot Kerryon Johnson, expect Auburn to take advantage of this early, pound the ball and build a big lead by halftime. This game won't be close.
Score Prediction: Auburn 48, Ole Miss 10.
Peter Santo, sports writer
Just like last week’s game against Mississippi State, Auburn and Ole Miss come into this game in very different mindsets. Auburn dominated from the opening snap against the Bulldogs in a 49-10 drubbing, while Ole Miss traveled to Tuscaloosa where they were promptly sent packing by top-ranked Alabama 66-3.
Auburn comes into this game with as much confidence as any team in the SEC. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham has been flawless in his last three games, and will look to continue that hot streak Saturday. The running game has been questioned this season, particularly with power back Kamryn Pettway still dealing with an injury, but the Tigers are still averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground. Kerryon Johnson has eight touchdowns in his last two games and will look to exploit an Ole Miss run defense that is giving up 229 rushing yards per game.
Ole Miss does boast an explosive offense, Shea Patterson is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the SEC and his top two receivers—A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge—rank 1-2 in the conference in receiving yards. However, the offensive line has been suspect all season for Ole Miss, as the Rebels are averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and only 74.2 rushing yards per game.
The 11 a.m. kick will keep this game close in the first half, but the Tigers will win the battle in the trenches and pull away for an easy win.
Score Prediction: Auburn 34, Ole Miss 17
Bennett Page, sports writer
After a dominating win over Mississippi State, Auburn's stock is up for the second straight week after a struggling start to the season. Jarrett Stidham finally looks comfortable in the pocket and is quickly developing relationships with multiple receivers. Kerryon Johnson has had eight touchdowns in Auburn's two SEC games and Auburn's secondary locked down on Mississippi State's receivers.
Ole Miss doesn't have much going for them at the moment, other than their extremely talented quarterback Shea Patterson. The issue is that Patterson is the only weapon the Rebel offense really has, and he doesn't have much protection from his offensive line. Wide receiver AJ Brown returned from injury last week, but if Auburn keys in on him just like Alabama's defense did, Auburn shouldn't give up many points to the Rebels. This Ole Miss team is trying to find themselves, and there is no reason to believe the team is going to trend upward anytime soon. They will be going up against an intimidating Auburn defense that has yet to allow more than 14 points in a game, while they will be defending an improving Auburn offense that is starting to click on levels that are matching preseason expectations for the first time. This won't be as bad of a beating as the Rebels faced in Tuscaloosa last week, but there is no reason to believe it will be a close game.
Score Prediction: Auburn 52, Ole Miss 10