#3 Auburn at #4 Ole Miss Preview and Predictions

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Oct 25, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive back Jonathan Jones (3) intercepts a pass intended for South Carolina Gamecocks receiver Shaq Roland (4) during the second half at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Gamecocks 42-35. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn’s Keys to Victory

1. Keep Intercepting Passes. The Tigers’ secondary is much improved this year and is overall a solid unit. It isn’t always pretty, though. Last week, South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson went 29/50 for 402 yards and 5 touchdowns. However, Auburn’s secondary is one of the best in the SEC and the nation when it comes to interceptions. The Tigers have picked off 13 passes this year, 2nd in the SEC. Jonathan Jones has picked off five passes, with four coming in the end zone. That’s the definition of clutch. This week, the Tigers face Bo Wallace, who’s been relatively turnover-free in SEC games, but still has a tendency for turnovers. The Tigers secondary will be hungry to force Bo Wallace into mistakes on Saturday night.

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2. Keep Pounding The Rock. Auburn’s offense silenced many of its critics against South Carolina, amassing 551 yards of offense (395 on the ground). Cameron Artis-Payne had his best game in an Auburn uniform, responding to those who claimed he wasn’t the right fit as the starting running back with a 25-carry, 167-yard performance. Granted, South Carolina’s defense is still by all means a dumpster fire. Auburn likely isn’t going for six straight touchdowns against a defense that allows 10.6 points per game (best in the FBS). However, Ole Miss has a vulnerable rush defense. They only allow 118 yards per game, but last week, LSU gained 264 rushing yards with an offensive line that bullied the Rebels’ defense. That, coupled with Ole Miss having a terrific secondary that leads the league in interceptions (17), running the ball is of the utmost importance for the Tigers.

3. Win the Special Teams Battle. One big difference between Auburn this year and last year is special teams. Quan Bray is among the nation’s best punt returners and Daniel Carlson has been solid for the Tigers this season. However, in big games this year, special teams has ranged from mediocre to momentum-killing. Big kickoff returns haven’t shown themselves yet. Tyler Lockett had several big punt returns for Kansas State on September 18. In the past two games, Ricardo Louis and Quan Bray have lost fumbles on returns against Mississippi State and South Carolina, respectively. Auburn needs to win the special teams battle here.

Next: Ole Miss' Keys to Victory