Auburn Football: Auburn vs. Ole Miss Preview and Prediction


Who: Auburn Tigers at Ole Miss Rebels

When: 11:21 a.m. CT (SEC Network)

Where: Oxford, Mississippi

All-time series record: Auburn leads 27-9

Most recent meeting: Auburn 41, Ole Miss 23 (2011)

Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t write a postgame review of the Tigers’ 24-7 loss to Arkansas. After every game, I hand out grades and look back on the game to see what went well and what needs improvement.

Why didn’t I write a review? Because growing up, I was taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. The Tigers looked as inept as I’ve ever seen them in every phase of the game. The defense had a long stretch of playing well, but still couldn’t get any pressure, make crucial stops or stop the Hogs’ offense early. Special teams missed a field goal and couldn’t get anything going in the return game. The offense scored 7 measly points against the worst defense in the SEC. The quarterbacks were sacked eight times. The coaching was pitiful. The players played badly.

Auburn has a bad football team. How bad? Ole Miss, who has lost 16 straight SEC games, is favored to beat the 1-4 Tigers. The Rebels have shown more fight this year than in the past few years, almost beating Texas A&M and giving #1 Alabama their toughest test to date.

Is Gene Chizik on the hot seat? Probably. However, I can’t see him being fired after this season. You can’t magically take away 2010. He is 31-14 at Auburn and won the BCS title just two seasons ago. Auburn hadn’t won a national title in 53 years. That year spoiled a lot of Auburn fans. However, the product Chizik has put on the field since that season has been unacceptable. Since beating Oregon to win the championship, Auburn is 9-9. It would take a miracle for Auburn to even sniff a bowl game this year, but despite that, Chizik will get (and should get) one more year to right the ship. If he doesn’t win in 2013 with Reuben Foster, Jeremy Johnson, Carl Lawson, Dee Liner, Tre Mason, Sammie Coates and more talented guys, then I’ll be all for saying “Thanks for 2010, Gene, but goodbye.” However, while I think change on the coaching staff is needed, I’m not ready to give up on Gene Chizik yet.

Now, onto the Ole Miss game.

Key for Auburn: Good offensive playcalling. Against Arkansas last week, Auburn almost always ran to the short side of the field. When Auburn was running effectively, Loeffler would dial up a pass and that would surely lead to a sack. Auburn is last in the SEC in offense, and it’s not like there isn’t talent there. It comes down to play-calling. If the run game is clicking, keep it clicking. Don’t pass when it isn’t needed. If you’re going to pitch it to McCalebb, pitch it to the wide side of the field so he can actually gain some yards. If the offensive play-calling is the same as the first five games this year, Auburn will make the Rebel Black Bears’ defense look like the 1985 Chicago Bears.

Key for Ole Miss: Moving the ball consistently. Auburn’s offense will probably struggle (you know it’s true), so if Ole Miss moves the ball early in the game and puts up multiple first-half scores, this game will probably be over quickly.

Auburn player to watch: Kiehl Frazier. Or Clint Moseley. Or Johnathan Wallace. Or Cam Newton’s statue. Or whoever else can possibly score points for Auburn’s offense. Frazier has the talent, but he holds on to the ball too long and his mental progression isn’t where it should be this far into his career. Moseley has neither the talent nor the awareness in the pocket and he also doesn’t make good decisions. Johnathan Wallace is a true freshman who hasn’t thrown a pass in his career. Whoever’s under center for Auburn… watch him, I guess.

Ole Miss player to watch: Bo Wallace. Wallace is prone to mistakes, but he can deliver nice passes and the Rebels’ offense has been pretty good with him taking snaps. Ole Miss averages 31.3 points per game under energetic first-year head coach Hugh Freeze’s high-flying spread attack. Auburn can’t afford to play soft coverage on Bo’s group of wide receivers, because he has the ability to make them pay.

Auburn vs. Ole Miss edges:

Quarterback: Ole Miss

Running back: Ole Miss (close)

Wide receiver: Ole Miss (close)

Tight end: Auburn

Offensive line: Ole Miss

Defensive line: Auburn (close)

Linebackers: Ole Miss

Cornerbacks: Ole Miss

Safeties: Ole Miss

Kicker: Auburn

Punter: Auburn

Coaching: Ole Miss

Interesting facts: Auburn is 27-9 against Ole Miss, 8-2 in the past decade…. Auburn’s last loss to Ole Miss was in 2008 (17-7), Auburn’s most recent losing season…. The last time Auburn was an underdog against Ole Miss, the Tigers upset the #24 Rebels in 2009, 33-20…. This is just the 7th game Ole Miss is favored to win in the past 18 games…. Ole Miss is the only team to have led Alabama this year. The Rebels led the Tide 7-6 in the second quarter. The lead lasted a whole 15 seconds….

Prediction: Auburn isn’t a good football team. In fact, this is one of the worst Auburn teams ever in the modern era of college football. Barfield had some bad teams. Bowden had a bad team. But to be inept on both sides of the ball? Wow. Ole Miss has lost 16 straight SEC games, so look for them to exercise their demons against Auburn Saturday morning. The Rebels will control all three phases of play in a big win. The wheels are officially off of the Tigers’ season.

Ole Miss Rebels 31, Auburn Tigers 3

Other SEC predictions:

#3 South Carolina 20, #9 LSU 17 (Gamecocks take advantage of LSU’s depleted 0-line to win an instant classic in Death Valley.)

#1 Alabama 38, Missouri 10 (Welcome to the SEC, Mizzou… 0-4 in SEC play, here you come.)

Vanderbilt 24, #4 Florida 22 (Yes, I’m calling for the big upset. Vandy takes it over Florida, stuns the nation.)

#19 Mississippi State 35, Tennessee 27 (Bulldogs continue to impress before the tough stretch of the schedule begins.)

#22 Texas A&M 27, #23 Louisiana Tech 25 (Everyone says it’ll be a shootout. I think the defenses step up and play well. A&M wins.)

Arkansas 38, Kentucky 14 (John L. Smith gets his second-straight win? That would make him John W. Smith.)

Predictions for other notable games:

#5 West Virginia 45, Texas Tech 27 (Red Raiders show great defensive improvement, hold WVU to only 45 points.)

#6 Kansas State 21, Iowa State 13 (Another upset in Ames? It’s possible, but Bill Synder’s team will escape with a W.)

#7 Notre Dame 24, #17 Stanford 6 (Notre Dame’s for real this year. Their defense is nothing short of dominant.)

#11 USC 43, Washington 26 (Lane Kiffin fails on some two-point conversions because he’s Lane Kiffin.)

#13 Oklahoma 28, #15 Texas 20 (This year’s Red River Rivalry features two big disappointments.)

Upset Alert: BYU 14, #10 Oregon State 10 (In a defensive battle, BYU ends the Beavers’ impressive run.)

I hate to sound like a negative person when I pick Auburn to lose 31-3 to a team that’s 3-3. But it’s the harsh reality of what this year’s team is. Sammie Coates, the most talented WR on the team, said it best: There’s no leadership on this team. This team is only going to regress. I can’t predict them to do anything else other than lose until they prove they can win a game. War Eagle, anyways!