Allowing a grand total of just 84 points this season in eight games (10.5 points per contest), Ole Miss will be without athletic defender Denzel Nkemdiche after he suffered a broken ankle in the loss to LSU, but the Rebels still have plenty of weapons to use led by his brother Robert Nkemdiche, C.J. Johnson, Marquis Haynes and a very quick front seven along with one of the top secondary groups in the country.
Consider these defensive numbers for the Rebels this season.
Ole Miss leads the nation in scoring defense at just 10.5 points per game and has given up a nation-low eight touchdowns. The defense is only surrendering 9.4 points per game when you factor in a fumble return for a score by Alabama and a safety by Louisiana-Monroe. With the first team defense on the field, opponents have scored just four total touchdowns (one each to Alabama and LSU and two to Texas A&M).
The Rebels are the only team in the country that hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points this season and they currently have a string of 10 consecutive games without giving up more than 20 points. Leading the country with 17 interceptions, Ole Miss has forced 24 total turnovers to lead the league in takeaways.
One of the biggest keys for Ole Miss has been not allowing big plays. This season the Rebels have allowed just eight plays of more than 30 yards, which is tied for fourth-fewest in the country. With a defense that forces turnovers and makes the offense work for everything it gets, Ole Miss will present a very tough challenge for Malzahn’s offense come Saturday night.
Cornerback Senquez Golson and safeties Cody Prewitt and Tony Conner lead a secondary that has been as good as anyone in the country this season at taking the ball away. Leading the nation with eight picks, Golson also leads the SEC with 12 passes defended this year. Just a sophomore, Conner leads the team with 47 tackles while Prewitt has 43 stops plus a pair of interceptions, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Offensively, it has been the Bo Wallace show for the Rebels this season with the running attack averaging just 149.5 yards per game. Fourth in the SEC and 31st nationally in passing at 259.4 yards per game, Wallace continues to pile up the numbers for Ole Miss as a senior. The SEC active leader in career total yards (9,322), touchdown responsibility (74), completions (669), attempts (1,047), passing yards (8,415), and touchdown passes (58), Wallace has seen it all during his time with the Rebels.
With Auburn’s defense struggling to slow Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina passing attack last Saturday night, look for Ole Miss to take shots early and often with Wallace throwing to one of the most talented groups of wide receivers in the Southeastern Conference. Leading the way is sophomore Laquon Treadwell with 38 receptions for 529 yards and four touchdowns. Vince Sanders, Cody Core and tight end Evan Engram combine for 72 more catches and 10 touchdowns, making it difficult to roll your coverages to the talented Treadwell.
Athletic defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche will be a tough challenge for the Auburn offensive line
WR 1 Laquon Treadwell (6-2, 229, SO-1L)
81 Trey Bledsoe (6-1, 208, FR-RS)
RG 68 Justin Bell (6-2, 352, JR-2L)
73 Rod Taylor (6-3, 320, FR-HS)
WR 10 Vince Sanders (6-1, 185, SR-3L)
8 Quincy Adeboyejo (6-3, 189, SO-1L)
DT 5 Robert Nkemdiche (6-4, 280, SO-1L)
45 Lavon Hooks (6-3, 318, SR-1L)
DE 10 C.J. Johnson (6-2, 225, JR-3L)
27 Marquis Haynes (6-3, 220, FR-HS)
47 John Youngblood (6-3, 246, SO-1L)
Nickel (Huskie) 12 Tony Conner (6-0, 217, SO-1L)
30 A.J. Moore (6-1, 190, FR-HS)
Rover 7 Trae Elston (6-0, 195, JR-2L)
26 C.J. Moore (6-0, 186, FR-HS)
FS 25 Cody Prewitt (6-2, 217, SR-3L)
3 C.J. Hampton (6-0, 192, FR-HS)
P 94 Will Gleeson (6-3, 189, FR-RS)
97 Gary Wunderlich (6-0, 175, FR-HS)
KO 97 Gary Wunderlich (6-0, 175, FR-HS)
92 Andy Pappanastos (5-11, 189, FR-RS)
Holder 9 Ryan Buchanan (6-3, 208, FR-RS)
88 John Ratliff (6-1, 186, JR-1L)
LS 59 Will Denny (5-11, 221, SR-3L)
53 Will Few (6-3, 250, SO-Sq.)
KR 6 Jaylen Walton (5-8, 166, JR-2L)
7 Mark Dodson (5-10, 198, SO-1L)
2 Kailo Moore (5-10, 188, SO-1L)
PR 11 Markell Pack (6-3, 181, FR-HS)
13 Eugene Brazley (5-9, 189, FR-RS)