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Auburn offense comes up big, beats Ole Miss

Oct 3, 2020; Oxford, MS, USA; Tank Bigsby (4) dives for the touchdown during the game between Auburn and Ole Miss at Vaught Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics
Oct 3, 2020; Oxford, MS, USA; Tank Bigsby (4) dives for the touchdown during the game between Auburn and Ole Miss at Vaught Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

  

The rushing attack that many Auburn fans have come to miss returned in full force in Saturday’s matchup with Ole Miss, earning Auburn its fifth-straight win over the Rebels. The Tigers shared the ball between four ball carriers, although D.J. Williams was held out of the last three quarters after getting banged up on his first carry.

Tank Bigsby led the charge with his third 100-yard game in a row, this time putting up 129 yards on 24 carries. He scored two touchdowns, including one diving score down the sideline to take the lead in the fourth quarter. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown to open the second half, but the score was called back for holding.

Bigsby is the first Auburn player to rush for 100 yards in three consecutive games since Kerryon Johnson in 2017. He is also just the third Auburn freshman ever with three 100-yard rushing games against SEC opponents; the other two were Bo Jackson in 1982 and Michael Dyer in 2010.

Shaun Shivers returned to the lineup after missing the last three games due to injury, tallying 60 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

Coach Malzahn commended the work of the running back room. “They ran extremely hard, they broke tackles, they protected the football.” He also had high praise for the work that the team put in during the week leading up to the game. “They practiced like they were undefeated.”

But for all the heroics of the ground game, the play that everyone will remember was the go-ahead touchdown pass from Bo Nix to Seth Williams.

After having several quiet weeks since an explosive season-opening performance, Williams took out all of his frustration against the Rebels. He hauled in eight catches—a season high mark—and totaled 150 yards, capping off his day with a 58-yard catch-and-run to put the Tigers ahead.

That wasn’t the end of Williams’ contribution to the win. On the ensuing 2-point conversion, Williams stationed himself just across the goal line and, with Anthony Schwartz dragging defenders with him by rolling to the sideline, reeled in an easy quick pass that would force Ole Miss to need a touchdown and an extra point to extend the game.

Fans may remember the play from last season’s Iron Bowl, in which Nix executed the same pass to an open Shedrick Jackson to put the Tigers up 48-45.

“We executed on third down,” Williams said after the game, “We knew going into this week that third down was going to be big.” All three of Auburn’s interceptions last week came on third down.

Bo Nix looked much improved after a game rife with mistakes last week. He went through his progressions, set his feet, and on most attempts delivered a catchable ball.

“He responded like a champion,” Malzahn said. Nix has struggled on the road in his time with Auburn—every interception of his career has come away from home, and his overall passing numbers are dramatically lower than those in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Against Ole Miss, one would’ve never guessed. Nix finished the game with his most efficient game of the season, completing 23 of 30 passes for 238 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions. He also carried the ball 10 times for 52 yards and a touchdown, the ninth rushing score of his career.

“We just made plays when we had to,” Nix said of the team’s performance.

The Tigers didn’t let their showing last week bring them down, either. “We focused on the task at hand, and we worried about Ole Miss.”

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