The Tigers visited Oxford for the 15th time Saturday to take on the 1-3 Ole Miss Rebels. Both teams were looking to recover from poor road performances, but it was the Tigers who ultimately came out on top. After some late drama, Gus Malzahn’s team finished the game 35-28.
Before this game, Auburn struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone with seven touchdowns on 15 red zone trips on the season, but they were clinical today, scoring a touchdown in all four of their red zone appearances including Tank Bigsby’s diving touchdown after an 18 yard rush which almost forced him out of bounds.
The Auburn defense also showed improvement from last week, keeping Matt Corral at a 59.3% pass completion and holding him to only 161 passing yards, over 174 less yards than his season average. The defense kept him anxious after Corral’s first passing attempt of a 68 yard drive was intercepted by Roger McCreary in the end zone. Leading up to that, the Rebels had run the ball 10 plays in a row.
Auburn’s rushing shined in this game through the talented Tank Bigsby who rushed for two touchdowns. Bigsby had 129 yards rushing, which is only 20 yards less than what the entire team was averaging before today. He scored his first on the Tigers’ second drive after carrying for 6/14 plays of the drive including back to back first down gains.
The Tigers also improved their third down conversion rate, rising from 41.1% on the season to 68.8% against Ole Miss. Bo Nix’s performance was a big contributor to that boost. The sophomore rushed for 52 yards and completed a season high 76.7% of his passes for a total of 238 yards. Nix rushed for a touchdown and threw the dramatic game winning 42 yard touchdown to his go to receiver Seth Williams.
Although this was Ole Miss’s second lowest scoring game of the season, only behind the 21 points they scored against Arkansas last week, the Rebels were well in the game until the final play. Lane Kiffin’s offense amassed a total of 444 yards with big gains coming from a 60 yard pass to Kenny Yeboah and a 37 yard rush by J.R. Plumlee.
After the game Gus Malzahn discussed how proud he was of his team, saying ”our guys really played 60 minutes today.” He detailed how important it is to have a dominant run game, specially citing that freshman Tank Bigsby is “running with passion.”
After today’s win, Auburn is 33-10 against Ole Miss overall and 13-2 in Oxford. The result continues the Tigers’ 5 year winning streak against the Rebels.
Next Saturday Auburn hosts LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium.