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Oct 16, 2021; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Bo Nix (10) throws ball between Auburn and Arkansas at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics
Oct 16, 2021; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Bo Nix (10) throws ball between Auburn and Arkansas at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Auburn Hosts Ole Miss in Pivotal SEC West Showdown

Coming off their bye week, the No. 18 Auburn Tigers (5-2, 2-1 SEC) will look to continue their momentum established in a 15-point road win over Arkansas when they play host to No. 10 Ole Miss (6-1, 3-1 SEC). Both teams have only one SEC loss and the winner will emerge as the biggest opposition to Alabama in the SEC West. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. on what is forecasted to be a chilly Saturday evening in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Fans are encouraged to wear orange as it is Auburn’s annual All Auburn All Orange game.

Auburn enters the game as one of only two teams in the SEC West still controlling their own destiny (along with Alabama). Meanwhile, Ole Miss has to win out and hope Alabama stumbles against one of LSU, Arkansas, or Auburn to be able to make it to Atlanta on the first Saturday in December. With the game scheduled for primetime and the magnitude of this game for both of these programs, the action and atmosphere should be entertaining to say the least.

Ole Miss is led by Heisman hopeful quarterback Matt Corral (2388 total yards of offense and 24 total touchdowns) and an offense putting up 41.9 points per game. While the offense has appeared unstoppable at times, the Rebels only average 33.8 points per game in conference play. Corral deservedly gets most of the attention on the Ole Miss offense, but the Rebels also possess a potent rushing attack which ranks third nationally averaging 263.3 yards per outing. Corral is the leading rusher for Ole Miss with 474 net rushing yards, but the Rebels boast five different players on their roster who have rushed for at least 320 yards and two touchdowns this season. Dontario Drummond (619 yards and six touchdowns) has led Ole Miss in receiving this year. Ole Miss’s next two receiving leaders for the season, Braylon Sanders and Jonathan Mingo, are both questionable for the game due to injuries. Sanders missed last week’s game against LSU, while Mingo has not played since injuring his foot against Alabama. Ole Miss will also be without starting offensive linemen Ben Brown who suffered a season-ending injury two weeks ago against Tennessee.

The Ole Miss defense has allowed 28.3 points per game and 422 total yards of offense per game this year. During conference games, that number balloons to 34.0 points per game. As a team, the Rebels have recorded 23 sacks including seven and a half by Sam Williams. Ole Miss’s leading tacklers are Chance Campbell (56 total tackles) and Otis Reese (54 total tackles).

For the Tigers, there has been an emphasis over the bye week on rejuvenating the rushing attack. The Tigers’ rushing attack, led by Tank Bigsby, was widely perceived as the strength of the offense entering the season but has been strangely quiet over the last three games. Auburn’s wide receiver room will look to back up their strong showing in Fayetteville with another quality outing this Saturday. Coach Bryan Harsin seemed optimistic linebacker Owen Pappoe could be nearing a return from the leg injury that has kept out the captain since the second half of the Penn State game. Pappoe’s return would be a large boost for a Tigers’ defense that has struggled with consistency through the first seven games of the season.

Auburn has one five straight games against Ole Miss and hold a 34-11 advantage in the all-time series. The Tigers are 16-3 at home against the Rebels. Auburn has also never lost as a ranked team to Ole Miss (19-0). This will only be the third time both teams come into the game ranked; Auburn won both such previous matchups.

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