An All-Time Performance
It’s hard to find a more dominating performance on both sides of the football against a solid SEC team than the one we witnessed Saturday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Most recently the closest comparison is probably 2014 when Auburn Tigers beat LSU 41-7 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. On that day Auburn had 566 total yards to just 280 for LSU, but the Bengal Tigers still managed 138 yards on the ground.
In 2005 Auburn’s 34-0 victory over Mississippi State was dominant as the Bulldogs managed just 161 yards of total offense on the day, but the Tigers only had 388 yards themselves in the win.
A year earlier Auburn demolished No.10 Tennessee 34-10 in Knoxville on a night when Tommy Tuberville’s team led 31-3 at the half, but it wasn’t a 60-minute performance because the Tigers took their foot off the gas in the second half. The Vols actually had more first downs than Auburn on that night, but five turnovers were a huge part of why the Tigers had no problems with an easy win.
The most comparable game in recent Auburn history came in 1985. A week after falling at Tennessee, the Tigers dominated Ole Miss at Jordan-Hare Stadium 41-0 with 438 yards on the ground and 39 first downs. Auburn held the Rebels to just nine total yards and two first downs in the win.
That Ole Miss team finished 4-6-1 on the season, something this Arkansas team has already surpassed with five wins on the year. Still with games against Mississippi State and Missouri on the schedule this group of Razorbacks could be a seven or eight win team at the end of the season and that would make what Auburn did on Saturday night even more impressive.
It’s hard to watch Kamryn Pettway and not see former Tampa Bay Bucs star Mike Alstott with the way he runs and finishes plays. Known as a fullback at Purdue and in the NFL, Alstott was actually a prolific runner with the Boilermakers, rushing for a school record 3,635 yards and when he left school his 39 career touchdowns on the ground was also a record.
Very similar in size to Alstott, Pettway has mannerisms and the footwork that just take me back to watching Alstott and Warrick Dunn playing for the Bucs in the late 1990’s, but he’s definitely got his own style, too.
A punishing runner, Pettway finishes runs with authority, but it’s his feet and vision that have been the difference so far this season. With 697 yards and six touchdowns on just 118 carries, an average of 5.9 yards per attempt, Pettway has been able to break off run after run after run of more than 10 yards. Those chunk plays wear a defense out and should allow Kerryon Johnson, Stanton Truitt and Kameron Martin to continue to have success running the football. While Johnson is still going to be a major contributor running the football for the Tigers down the road, it’s hard to imagine not leaning on Pettway, the SEC's leading rusher, to wear down the defenses like he’s done each of the last two times out.
Tougher Challenge Vs. Rebels
Last week was set up to be a mismatch from the outset because of the line of scrimmage differences between Auburn and Arkansas and it played out that way. While the Tigers could again have an advantage at the line of scrimmage for this weekend's game, when quarterback Chad Kelly and the Ole Miss wide receivers take the field there is always a danger of a big play and his attitude of taking shots down the field at any time makes him a danger.
Last season Kelly threw for 380 yards against Auburn and this season he’s lit up some pretty athletic defenses for some big numbers. With Ole Miss’ struggles on the offensive line this could be a game where the Rebels use the short passing game and tempo to try to keep the Auburn defense off balance.
It has worked for them in the scoring department to the tune of 37 points per game. Only once this season (last week at LSU) have the Rebels failed to score at least 30 in a game. Even with that they have four losses already because of some major holes on the defensive side of the ball, but make no mistake about it this week’s game against the Rebels isn’t an easy one because of the offense on the other side of the field.