StatTiger: Previewing Ole Miss at Auburn

Stuart Carter (StatTiger) analyzes the numbers and predicts what will happen as Ole Miss visits Auburn for an SEC West football game.

Auburn 3-1 (1-1) vs. Ole Miss 3-1 (1-1)

Series Record: 27-10 (Auburn)

Last Meeting: (2012) Ole Miss won, 41-20

About each team...

Auburn is coming off a bye-week following a loss to LSU. The Rebels are coming off a loss to Alabama.

Hugh Freeze has a career coaching record of 40-14, including a 10-7 record at Ole Miss. Gus Malzahn enters the contest with a coaching mark of 12-4 and 3-1 at Auburn.

Hugh Freeze is in his second season as head coach at Ole Miss.

Auburn is 3-2 vs. Ole Miss the last five seasons and 7-3 over the past 10 years.

Ole Miss returns eight starters on offense and 10 on defense. Auburn returns six starters on offense and eight on defense.

Auburn has 31 players with at least 20 games of experience and Ole Miss has 28.

Auburn is 8-2 vs. the Rebels the last 10 meetings at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The average score in this series at Jordan-Hare the past 10 meetings is 26-15.

The Rebels have rushed for at least 200 yards against Auburn during the last five meetings, averaging 218 yards per game on the ground.

Inside the Numbers:

*During Malzahn's four previous games against Ole Miss his offense has averaged 433 yards and 41 points. During those meetings Malzahn's quarterbacks have completed 71 percent of their passes for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

*Nick Marshall enters the game with a respectable QB rating of 129.3. Tre Mason leads the Tigers in rushing with 338 yards at 5.2 yards per carry. Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis lead Auburn with 11 receptions each.

*Bo Wallace has a quarterback rating of 130.5 for Ole Miss and has yet to throw an interception this season through 118 pass attempts. Jeff Scott leads Ole Miss in rushing with 358 yards at an impressive 8.3 yards per carry. Freshman wideout Laquon Treadwell leads the Rebels with 20 receptions followed by Donte Moncrief's 17 receptions.

Jeff Scott is a senior running back for Ole Miss.

*Robenson Therezie (25), Cassanova McKinzy (21) and Jermaine Whitehead (20) are Auburn's leading tacklers. Gabe Wright leads the Tigers in tackles for loss with 3 1/2.

*Linebacker Sererius Bryant is easily on pace for a 100-tackle season with 35 for Ole Miss. Four different Rebels have at least four tackles for loss as Ole Miss has recorded 27 on the season.

*Since 1992 Auburn is 13-11 in conference play with an extra week to prepare for a game.

What to watch...

*During the last 25 meetings between the two teams Auburn is 18-2 against the Rebels when the Tigers out-rush Ole Miss and 2-3 when they don't.

*Auburn has struggled keeping containment on opposing quarterbacks, which Ole Miss will game plan for this week. Defending the run has become a major issue for the Tigers. Auburn has allowed an average of 204.0 yards rushing in its last 20 FBS games, holding only one team to under 100 yards rushing.

*Look for Marshall to be heavily involved in the game plan. He has been directly involved in 21 of Auburn's 30 impact plays on offense or 70 percent. During his Heisman season Cam Newton was involved in 67.4 percent of Auburn's impact plays.

*Ole Miss will attempt to create mismatches with Evan Engram (TE) and Laquon Treadwell (WR) by lining them up in the slot in hopes of forcing linebacker coverage.

*As vital as the running game is to both teams the performance of the quarterbacks will likely make the difference. This is why it is so important for Marshall to play well early, something he has not been able to do so far this season.

*Marshall has been the more efficient passer on third downs with a rating of 145.6. Wallace has a rating of 132.5 on third downs this season.

*Auburn must tackle well in space, minimizing the yardage gained after initial contact. Like the Auburn offense, Freeze will attempt to take advantage of open space and personnel mismatches.

Keys to victory…

*This game has the makings of a high scoring contest with lots of explosive plays. Marshall will need to play well to keep pace with the Rebel offense.

Marshall's half to half performances have been bipolar in production. He has a pass rating of 115.2 in the first half and 143.7 during the second. He needs to prove he can come out early and be productive.

*Because of the styles of both offenses, which are similar in many aspects, discipline on defense and player assignment will be a key to victory.

*Including fumbles, actual turnovers, penalties and tackles for loss, Auburn has averaged 13.5 miscues per game. These self-destructive moments during the game nearly cost Auburn from winning against Mississippi State and certainly were a primary reason for the loss to LSU. Poor execution against Ole Miss could easily translate to a second consecutive conference defeat.

Cody Parkey has hit 7-8 field goals this season for the Tigers.

*If the game ends up being close going into the final period neither team possesses a major edge in special teams, though Auburn has the more accurate place-kicker in Cody Parkey.

*Malzahn is 22-13 when his offense attempts more than 30 passes during a game and 32-6 with more than 45 rush attempts during a game.

*The Ole Miss offense is more of a perimeter attack capable of generating explosive plays. The Rebels are currently averaging an explosive play every 7.2 snaps and the Auburn defense is currently giving up one every 7.5 snaps. Auburn needs to improve in this area to control the Rebels.

Final Word...

Both teams failed at their latest attempt to compete with Top 10 ranked opponents. Auburn was defeated by LSU two weeks ago (35-21) and Ole Miss was blanked by Alabama 25-0. Both are hoping to rebound from their first loss of the season this Saturday night, magnifying the importance of this matchup.

The outcome of this game will increase the probability of becoming bowl eligible. Auburn has performed well enough to win three of its four games, but the Tigers have made enough mistakes to be 1-3. There can be a fine line in handling adversity and making enough plays at the right moment during games to change the outcome. This was something last year's team struggled with, which shows growth and improvement this season.

Regardless of how poorly Ole Miss played against Alabama, the matchups the visitors will face at Auburn this Saturday will be completely different. Offensively, the Rebels should match up better against the Auburn defense, which has struggled defending the run and maintaining containment on mobile quarterbacks. Through three games vs. BCS competition Auburn is averaging 430 yards and 25 points while allowing 445 yards and 26 points. Ole Miss is averaging 381 yards and 28 points while allowing 393 yards and 28 points. On paper Auburn appears to have a slight edge in consistency on offense, but the Rebels have performed better on defense.

There are three trends we have witnessed that need to reverse for Auburn to improve. Marshall has struggled during the first halves and that needs to improve this week. The defense has struggled during the first half while improving during the third and fourth quarters. Auburn has turned the ball over in every game with at least three in each of its conference games. If these current trends continue this Saturday night, Auburn will likely drop a second consecutive game.

With the bye week Malzahn's team was able to work on these issues to field a better product to start the second month of the season. This is not a game Auburn can afford to start off slowly in, especially if that happens on both sides of the football

This appears to be a fairly evenly matched contest, which means special teams could play a major role in the outcome. The team with the fewest mistakes likely wins and Auburn playing at home should make a difference. Auburn 30, Ole Miss 27

Around the Southeastern Conference…

Florida over Arkansas
Georgia over Tennessee
LSU over Mississippi State
Alabama over Georgia State
Vanderbilt over Missouri
South Carolina over Kentucky

Season Record: 38-3

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