Auburn, AL. - After a frustrating loss in Columbia, Auburn looks to correct its course in Oxford, Mississippi.
The Tigers, who are 2-2 on the year, have struggled to control games for sixty minutes which will continue to be difficult against Ole Miss. The hometown Rebels look to defend their home turf on Homecoming under first year Head Coach Lane Kiffin. Kiffin, who has bounced around the college football world in different coaching jobs, is looking to revitalize the Ole Miss program back to its better days. Despite being 1-3, this season gives them a great chance to do that.
The Ole Miss offense is led by sophomore quarterback Matt Corral. Corral has thrown for 1,280 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has also completed 69.0% of his passes on the season. He, along with this Rebel offense, have been exciting to watch with the dynamic that Lane Kiffin brings to the table. In the backfield is Jerrion Ealy, the sophomore from Walnut Grove, Mississippi. Ealy has rushed for 355 yards and five touchdowns so far in 2020. He adds a nice complimenting piece to the passing game of Corral.
Auburn's defense will have its hands full on Saturday with this offense. Despite being a familiar SEC West foe, this offense is something the Tigers have not seen in Oxford for a long time. This team averages over 540 yards while putting up 36.5 points per game. A well-balanced attack that is sure to keep Auburn Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele on his toes.
On the other side of the ball for Ole Miss is really where they struggle and lose their games. The defense gives up nearly 50 points a contest and almost 580 yards as well. Auburn will need to take advantage of this week to work out their offensive struggles. An area to watch out for is the secondary which includes Keidron Smith and Jaylon Jones. These two have combined for 28 tackles this year. Auburn should also be aware of MoMo Sanogo, the linebacker with one sack this season and 26 tackles.
The most impactful struggle for Auburn at South Carolina was the three interceptions from quarterback Bo Nix. The sophomore completed just above 50% of his passes last week throwing for 24-47, 272 yards and one touchdown. Nix's decision making costed him multiple turnovers which resulted in easy scores from the Gamecock offense. At one point in the game, Bo Nix was visibly frustrated with himself and star receiver Seth Williams. The team captain has lots of room to improve this week on the road once again.
The highlight of Auburn's season so far has been Tank Bigsby, the freshman running back from LaGrange, Georgia. The young stud ran for 111 yards last weekend in Columbia and recorded his first collegiate touchdown. He is the first Auburn freshman to rush for 100 yards in back-to-back games since JaTarvious Whitlow in 2018. Bigsby is also the first freshman to do so in consecutive SEC games since Michael Dyer in 2010. He is definitely someone who Auburn will look to feed the ball to more often as the season progresses.
As for Auburn's defense, they have given up 27 or more points in their last three games. This is not entirely on the defense however as the offense has created turnovers, but it is something that has not occurred often under Kevin Steele.
Zakoby McClain continues to shine with the absences of KJ Britt and Chandler Wooten. He recorded 13 tackles against South Carolina and is averaging 11.3 per game. This is good enough to rank fourth in the nation. Owen Pappoe caught his first career interception against the Gamecocks as well and had 10 tackles to go with it. These two have been the anchors of Auburn's defense, especially in the run game.
Auburn's defensive line is still looking to get more quarterback pressures, but is gaining some much needed experience. Redshirt freshman Colby Wooden has played nicely so far as he is tied for second in the SEC with 5.0 tackles for a loss. The buck from Lawrenceville, Georgia has stepped up behind an injured and struggling Big Kat Bryant.
The biggest key for Ole Miss this weekend at home will be to get key stops on defense and to hammer Auburn in different areas while on offense.
For Gus Malzahn and the Tigers, a point of emphasis on Saturday will be to get Bo Nix comfortable and back in a groove while establishing the run game with Tank Bigsby. The defense will have to apply pressure to Matt Corral and take away the easy passes in the pocket.
The series record all time favors Auburn 33-11, as well as in Oxford as Auburn leads there 12-3.
Kickoff is set for 11:00 a.m. CST on the SEC Network, this Saturday October 24, 2020.
Auburn football wasn't the Auburn team in action on Saturday. Auburn women’s basketball was back in action for its second game of the season, notching its second win in a close one, 66-64 over Samford.