Auburn vs Ole Miss: Someone is going to win this Saturday’s Ole Miss vs Auburn game. But it’s unclear if that team will win by leaning into its strength or overcoming its weakness. Ole Miss defense won’t take struggling Auburn offense lightly this Saturday. Auburn’s offense has struggled this season, whimpering compared to its normal pace.
Event: College Football
Team: Auburn vs Ole Miss
Date: Saturday, October 20, 2018
Game Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Auburn enters week eight of the college football season coming off a heartbreaking loss to Tennessee at home in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers are now 4-3 on the season and looking to rebound this Saturday when they travel to Oxford to face Ole Miss. The Rebels are currently 5-2 on the season.
In this week’s episode of Auburn Head to Head, AL.com’s Lauren Sisler and WJOX’s Jim Dunaway discuss the key areas that Auburn will need to improve on to get their season back on track and make their predictions for this matchup.
When the good units are on the field, expect a battle. Auburn’s defense ranks No. 1 in the nation in allowing the lowest percentage of red zone touchdowns, is part of a four-way tie for first place in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (3) and ranks fourth in the FBS in tackles for loss (59). So much of the Tigers’ defensive success stems from its front seven, where four players already have at least six tackles for loss. Ole Miss, by comparison, has one such player.
But Auburn isn’t only a run defense. The Tigers will match up with Jordan Ta’amu and Ole Miss’ electric passing attack pretty nicely, coming into town boasting top-25 national marks in interceptions, passer rating against and completion percentage against. That’ll be an interesting juxtaposition against an Ole Miss offense that ranks in the top-5 nationally in passing yards per game, yards per pass attempt and passer rating.
That said, Auburn’s pass defense is showing signs of faltering. In last week’s loss to Tennessee, Auburn’s defense allowed 10.3 yards per pass attempt. That was the first time an Auburn defense allowed more than 10 yards per attempt in a regular-season game since the 2014 Iron Bowl, a 55-44 loss against Alabama. It was also the first time Auburn had allowed more than 300 yards passing in a game since last season’s matchup against Ole Miss.
Still, the most intriguing matchup of the game might be the inverse one. Auburn’s offense has been in a season-long funk, averaging 5.00 yards per play against FBS opponents in 2018 compared to its impressive 6.16 in 2017. The last time Auburn’s offense averaged a yards per play mark this low was 2012 when the Tigers went 3-9 and ended up firing coach Gene Chizik.
Of course, Ole Miss’ defense hasn’t been much better. The Rebels are last in the SEC, allowing 449.6 yards per game and 6.19 yards per play. A lot of that has to do with Ole Miss’ SEC-worst rushing defense, which has allowed more than 210 yards per game and 12 touchdowns. But even that’s not a great matchup for Auburn’s offense, which ranks No. 12 in the SEC in rushing yards per game, and No. 13 in yards per carry.
Much of this bad-on-bad matchup should come down to turnovers. When Auburn turns the ball over, it loses. The Tigers are +6 in turnover differential in their four wins this season and -6 in their three losses. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham hasn’t thrown an interception in a win; he has four picks in losses.