Chad Kelly (above) leads the Ole Miss offense.
No. 15 Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) at Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3 SEC)
Series Record: Auburn leads 29-11-0
Last Meeting: (2016) Ole Miss, 27-19
About the teams:
•Coach Hugh Freeze is 67-29 overall and 37-22 at Mississippi. Gus Malzahn is 41-18 all-time and 32-15 at Auburn.
•The last time out Auburn crushed Arkansas 56-3 and Ole Miss lost at LSU, 38-21.
•Auburn is 9-3 against the Rebels during the past 12 meetings.
•Chad Kelly is the No. 3 rated passer in the Southeastern Conference at 147.1. The Ole Miss quarterback is averaging 294.0 passing yards per game and has thrown for 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
•Akeem Judd leads the Rebels in rushing with 382 yards at 4.8 yards per attempt. Kelly is a threat to run with the football with 269 yards rushing on the season.
•Tight end Evan Engram is No. 2 in the SEC in receptions with 40. The Rebels also have two receivers with 26 receptions each in Van Jefferson and Damore'ea Stringfellow.
Evan Engram is one of the SEC's top offensive players.
•Linebacker DeMarquis Gates leads the Ole Miss defense with 44 tackles on the season. Marquis Haynes leads the team in the tackles for loss with 7.0 stops behind the line.
•Sean White is the No. 1 rated passer in the conference at 156.1. The Auburn sophomore is averaging 181 yards passing per game while completing 68.5 percent of his throws. His leading target has been senior Tony Stevens, who has hauled in 24 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns this season.
•Kamryn Pettway leads the league in yards rushing per game at 116.2. The Auburn sophomore has 697 yards on the season and six rushing touchdowns. Kerryon Johnson is No. 6 in the SEC with 89.7 yards per game.
•Linebacker Tre Williams leads the Auburn defense with 43 tackles followed by Rudy Ford with 42 stops. Carl Lawson leads the Tigers with eight tackles for loss and Montravius Adams has six stops behind the line.
•Auburn is No. 2 in the SEC for scoring defense and will face a Rebel offense ranked No. 2 in scoring offense.
•Auburn is No. 3 in the conference in rushing yards against Power-5 competition and will face a Rebel defense ranked No. 11 in the SEC in defending the run against Power-5 opponents.
•Malzahn’s offense has averaged 435 yards and 35 points per game during seven meetings against Ole Miss.
•Malzahn’s offense at Auburn has averaged 238.7 yards rushing against the Rebels.
How They Match Up...
*Against Power-5 competition Ole Miss is averaging 428 yards per game and will face an Auburn defense allowing 344 yards per game. Auburn is averaging 423 yards per game and will face a Rebel defense allowing 482 yards per game.
*Against Power-5 competition Auburn's average score is 28-16. The Rebels’ average score is 35-36.
*Against Power-5 competition Auburn averages 250 rushing per game while allowing 146. Ole Miss averages 123 yards rushing per game while allowing 247.
*Auburn has allowed 22 running plays of 10 yards or more through seven games. The Rebel defense has allowed 52 through seven games.
*Against Power-5 competition Auburn is No. 6 in the SEC in pass efficiency and will face a Rebel defense ranked No. 8 in the SEC. The Rebel pass offense is No. 2 in the SEC and will face an Auburn defense ranked No. 3.
Keys to Victory...
•During the last 28 meetings between the two programs the team with the most rushing yardage is 24-4 in the series.
•This should be a game in which Auburn has success running the football. Malzahn's offense is 62-5 in games with 200 yards rushing and a pass efficiency of 130 or better.
•Both teams have been effective on third down offensively. Auburn has been stingier on defense than Ole Miss. From 1990-2015 Auburn is 14-2 against the Rebels when the Tigers win or tie the third down battle and 6-4 when they don't.
•If Auburn establishes the run, it could be a long day for the Rebels. Auburn is No. 8 nationally in producing run plays of 10 yards or more and the Rebel defense is No. 112 in allowing them.
•Auburn must limit the Rebels “big play” ability, forcing them into earning every yard gained.
What to Watch...
*Scoring margins and averages against Power-5 competition projects two outcomes. Auburn wins 30-24 or 46-17. Average the two scores and the projection is Auburn, 38-20.
*Kelly is the highest rated passer in the SEC against Power-5 competition. If Auburn can apply pressure and limit his production, it should make for a positive outcome for the Tigers.
*Auburn is No. 12 nationally, averaging better than six yards per rush on first down. Ole Miss is No. 102 in defending the run on first down.
Kamryn Pettway rushed for 192 yards vs. Arkansas.
*Auburn has held its last four opponents under 200 yards passing, something not accomplished since 2005. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 22 nationally in pass efficiency defense and No. 20 on third down.
*The six FBS opponents Ole Miss has faced this season have averaged 141.3 yards at 7.9 yards per carry from their leading rusher at the running back position. This could be another big game for Pettway.
*Auburn has held every quarterback it has faced this year below his efficiency rating on the season. The average rating of those quarterbacks is 133.3 and their average rating against Auburn have been 104.2.
Auburn takes to the road again, returning to the state of Mississippi to clash with Ole Miss. Auburn will bring a four-game winning streak to Oxford to take on a squad on a two-game losing streak. With three losses in the SEC West the Rebels are out of contention for Atlanta, but they can still compete to finish their season on a positive note.
Regardless of their 3-4 record, the Rebels are a dangerous team, especially on the offensive side of the football. Ole Miss has averaged 32 points during its four losses and has played Alabama more competitively than any other team this season. During their last three meetings against Auburn the Rebels have averaged more than 500 yards per game and Kelly gives them the opportunity to be competitive with anyone in the country.
The matchups for this game heavily favor the Tigers. The Rebels’ offensive strength is their passing game, which will counter Auburn's defensive strength in pass defense. Ole Miss has struggled to defend the run and will face Auburn's offensive strength in its running game, currently ranked No. 3 in the country.
The scoring margins and averages project a convincing victory over the Rebels, but football games are never played on paper. Under Freeze, Ole Miss has been extremely competitive. Before this season Ole Miss compiled a 6-2 record against the last eight Power-5 teams it faced that finished the season with a winning percentage of 75 percent or better. From 2013-2016 the Rebels have only been defeated by 17 or more points on five occasions. Ole Miss suffered seven such losses during the 2011 season alone.
Through eight weeks of college football, Auburn is 5-2 and appears to be trending upward. The Rebels are 3-4 and seem to be on the verge of a collapse. If the Tigers can neutralize Kelly just as they have every quarterback they have faced this season, Auburn will leave Vaught-Hemingway with its sixth victory of the season. The Rebels’ playmakers are centered around their receiving corps. If Auburn can force Kelly into an average performance, it will be difficult for the Rebels to score at their normal rate.
Malzahn has fielded better offenses at Auburn than the 2016 version, but this might be AU’s most complete “team” since 2004. This is a young Auburn team and it must avoid reading into or believing the recent praise from the media. Auburn is a better team than the one that opened up against Clemson, but the Tigers are not good enough to beat Ole Miss on talent alone. Auburn 34, Ole Miss 20
Around the Southeastern Conference:
Missouri over Kentucky
Florida over Georgia
Mississippi State over Samford
Tennessee over South Carolina
Texas A&M over New Mexico State
Season Record: 54-16