#3 Auburn at #4 Ole Miss Preview and Predictions

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Oct 25, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels defensive back Cody Prewitt (25) is congratulated by teammate Senquez Golson (21) after recovering a fumble by the LSU Tigers in the first quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss’ Keys to Victory

1. Bo Wallace. “Dr. Bo” ended the LSU game with a decision so bad it called into question the legitimacy of his (fictional) Ph.D. (If you’re unaware of the Dr. Bo meme, here’s the origin of that.) He’s still been solid in SEC games this season, with an 8-1 TD-INT ratio compared to a 10-6 TD-INT ratio in nonconference games. The perception of “Good Bo/Bad Bo” exists and likely always will, for better or worse. Simply, the Rebels go as Wallace goes. A good night from Bo Wallace makes Ole Miss perhaps the best team in the nation. A bad night from Bo Wallace makes Ole Miss vulnerable against lesser competition. Against an Auburn defense that’s turnover-happy, Bo Wallace must have a good game and avoid turnovers.

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2. Step Up on Defense. Ole Miss has a terrific defense, allowing just 10.6 points (1st in the FBS) and 305 yards per game. However, their spirit might be a little broken after their performance at LSU. Yes, they held LSU to 3 points for most of the game, but by the end of the game, the “Landshark Defense” had lost their sharp teeth. LSU battered the Rebel defense, running for 264 yards and running the ball 12 straight times on their game-winning drive. There’s little argument that Ole Miss has a great defense. One could argue they’re still the nation’s best, and the LSU result was due to a tired defense not having enough time to rest thanks to an ineffective offense. But against an offensive juggernaut like Auburn, they’ll need a better effort than what transpired in Baton Rouge.

3. Establish a Running Game. As good as Ole Miss has been in most areas of the game this year, one issue the Rebels have had is running the football. Ole Miss runs for 149.5 yards per game, good for a whopping 83rd in the FBS. Leading rusher Jaylen Walton has 71 carries for 376 yards and 4 touchdowns this year. In comparison, Auburn’s leading rusher, Cameron Artis-Payne, has 151 carries for 831 yards (both over twice what Walton has) and 6 touchdowns. Auburn’s run defense is strong, holding opponents to 120.4 yards per game on the ground. Still, the Rebels have to get something going on the ground. A one-dimensional offense led by Bo Wallace is a big risk for the Rebs to take in a top 5 showdown.

Next: Auburn vs Ole Miss: Interesting Facts