StatTiger: Ole Miss at Auburn Preview

Stuart Carter (StatTiger), previews a rebounding Auburn team against a struggled squad of Ole Miss Rebels. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. CDT at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

Ole Miss Rebels (2-6 Overall, 0-5 SEC)

Offensive NumbersYards Per GameNational Rank
Points:20.3 points107th
Defensive NumbersYards Per GameNational Rank
Points:29.5 points77th

Series Record Against Auburn: 8-23
Against Auburn With Tuberville: 2-6

The Ole Miss Rebels posted a 4-8 record during the 2006 season, but four of their losses were by six points or less. This season the Rebels have improved on offense, but the lack of production on defense has resulted in a 2-6 record, 0-5 in conference play. Ole Miss appears to be headed towards a fourth consecutive losing season after compiling a winning record seven years in a row from 1997 through 2003.

Despite its 2-6 record, Ole Miss did give Florida and Alabama all they could handle. The Gators squeaked out a 30-24 victory over the Rebels and Alabama walked away with a controversial 27-24 victory against Ole Miss. The Rebels will bring enough offensive power to Jordan-Hare to give Auburn a good game if the Tigers take Ole Miss lightly.

Seth Adams replaced Brent Schaeffer as the starting quarterback at Ole Miss this season, but both QBs played in the loss to Arkansas.

Last time out...

The Ole Miss Rebels are coming off the short end of a 44-8 thrashing by the Arkansas Razorbacks. The recent defeat marked the third time this season, Ole Miss has been hammered by 24 or more points. The Auburn Tigers four-game winning streak came to an end in Baton Rouge, when No. 4 LSU threw a gaming-winning touchdown pass with only a few seconds left to defeat Auburn, 30-24.

About Ole Miss...

This is the most productive Ole Miss offense during the Ed Orgeron era. The Rebels will bring a balanced attack to Auburn led by running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The senior running back is on pace for a second consecutive 1,000-yard season. Green-Ellis currently has 785 yards rushing on the season. Quarterback Seth Adams has already recorded five games of 200 yards or more passing, including three games of over 280 yards passing.

Receiver Mike Wallace leads the Rebels with 30 receptions for 654 yards and six touchdown receptions. Wide receiver Shay Hodge has caught 31 passes for three touchdowns. As good as Green-Ellis might be, he has accounted for 86 percent of the Rebels rushing yardage. Taking him out of the equation will a high priority for the Auburn defense.

Linebacker Ashlee Palmer leads Ole Miss with 76 tackles on the season. Defensive end Greg Hardy leads the team in tackles for loss and quarterback sacks. Palmer is also second on the team in total tackles and leads Ole Miss with two interceptions. Despite their defensive woes this season, the Rebels are second in the conference with 58 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 24th nationally.

Jamarca Sanford (pictured), Palmer and Hardy hold down a defense with a lot of holes this season.

Punter Justin Sparks has averaged 39.9 yards per punt and Joshua Shene has converted eight of 13 field goal attempts. Marshay Green has averaged 23 yards per kick return, but the Rebels have only 41 yards on eight punt returns this season.

About Auburn...

Though the Auburn offense is no longer self-destructing, it has yet to play consistently through an entire game. Brandon Cox is completing 60 percent of his passes, but for less than seven yards per attempt. He's also close to flip-flopping his interception to touchdown ratio after passing for two touchdowns against LSU with no picks. Rod Smith remains the leading receiver on the team with 33 receptions through eight games.

Ben Tate had only 11 carries last Saturday, but has 614 yards on the ground with a 4.5 average per carry. The return of Brad Lester has also limited Mario Fannin's presence on the field. With Auburn's lack of "big play" capability, finding a way for Fannin to have more touches on offense should be a priority for coordinator Al Borges. Over the last six games, Auburn's running attack has averaged 178 yards per game, scoring 14 touchdowns during that time period.

Chris Evans, Eric Brock and Zac Etheridge have more than 40 tackles on the season with Evans leading Auburn with 47 stops. Quentin Groves recorded his third sack of the season against LSU, tying the school record in career sacks. After being taken to woodshed in the second half by the LSU offense, Auburn dropped to 15th in the nation in total defense and scoring defense.

Final Thoughts...

Last season Auburn had one of its better offensive outings against the Rebels, but turnovers made the game much closer than it should have been. The offense gained 230 yards on 36 plays during its first three possessions against the Rebels but two of the drives resulted in turnovers inside the red zone. Auburn should be able to move the ball again against the Rebels, but again, taking care of the football will be essential. Ole Miss played well enough to beat Florida and Alabama this season and merely showing up for the game could cost Auburn another game they are favored to win.

There is always the fear that Auburn will still be hung over from the loss to LSU. Over the years, the coaching staff has done an excellent job preparing the team coming off a regular season loss. Auburn is 8-2 the following week the last 10 times Auburn has been defeated. In 2005 Auburn lost another heartbreaker to LSU and bounced back with a 27-3 victory over Ole Miss. Playing well early on will take the players' minds off the LSU game and the focus of executing well against the Rebels.

Taking the scoring margins and scoring averages from both teams, Auburn should win this game by 23 points. The Tigers are currently favored by about 17.5 points. Despite some of the concerns on offense Auburn should match up well against the Rebel defense. Expect too see Borges to scheme to have all three running backs involved in the offense just as they were against Vanderbilt.

It would be nice for Auburn to be able to jump out to huge lead to allow the coaching staff to play some reserves, giving the starters much-needed rest. Auburn already utilized its "take the day off" card against South Florida and Mississippi State. The chase for a Southeastern Conference title is more than likely out of the picture but Auburn still has plenty to play for in 2007. The possibility of a 10-win season and a quality bowl appearance is within reason, but the Tigers must work for it to happen.

Auburn 31, Ole Miss 13

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