StatTiger: Analyzing Auburn at Ole Miss

Stuart Carter (StatTiger) takes a look at Auburn's road trip to Ole Miss. Kickoff from Oxford, Miss., is set for 11:30 a.m. CT with the game televised on Raycom.

Auburn (4-4 Overall, 2-3 SEC)
at Ole Miss (4-4 Overall, 2-3 SEC)

National Rankings:

AuburnOle Miss
Rush Offense:66th137.0 YPGRush Offense:48th162.0 YPG
Pass Offense:106th151.5 YPGPass Offense: 60th215.6 YPG
Total Offense: 109th288.5 YPGTotal Offense: 55th377.6 YPG
Score Offense: 102th18.9 PPGScore Offense: 50th27.2 PPG
Rush Defense:51st128.2 YPGRush Defense: 29th110.9 YPG
Pass Defense:12th166.0 YPGPass Defense: 88th234.2 YPG
Total Defense:17th294.2 YPGTotal Defense: 55th345.1 YPG
Score Defense: 13th15.7 PPGScore Defense: 59th24.1 PPG

About Ole Miss...

Despite having identical records the Ole Miss Rebels look to be a team destined to the turn the corner while the Auburn Tigers are still searching for solutions. Coach Houston Nutt's first season on the Ole Miss sideline has brought promise and hope to the Rebels. Last season they were the 91st rated offense scoring 30 touchdowns in 12 games. Through eight games this season the Rebels are 55th in the nation in total offense with 26 touchdowns. The Rebel offense has relied on running back by committee attack and quarterback Jevan Snead, who averages 209-yards passing per game to go along with 12 touchdowns passes. Wide out Dexter McCluster has been the Ole Miss utility player with 451-yards in receiving and 295-yards rushing.

Jamarca Sanford leads Ole Miss with 64 tackles and is one of the senior leaders on a Rebel defense that leads the conference in tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Greg Hardy leads the Rebel defense with 3½ sacks, which is part of the 18 team sacks that is fifth in the conference. Senior defensive tackle Peria Jerry has nine tackles for loss with a total of 29 stops on the year. Ole Miss is currently 45th in the nation in punt return average and 33rd in kick-off returns. Ole Miss has struggled in punting, averaging only 39.8 yards per punt but has connected on 12 of 13 field goal attempts.

Inside the Numbers

* Ole Miss has averaged 359.8 yards and 23 points per game against SEC competition, while Auburn has averaged 252.4 yards and 15 points per game.
* In the last five games, the Auburn defense has allowed 342.6 yards and 22.2 points per game.
* During the first three games of the season, Auburn's opponents converted only 7 percent of their third-down conversions. In the last five games opponents have converted 38 percent, and 45 percent in the last three games.
* Auburn has been penalized 54 times and its opponent 36 times. It's the second worst percentage of penalties in the Southeastern Conference behind the Georgia Bulldogs.
* From 2002-2005, Auburn averaged 191.2 yards rushing per game. From 2006-2008, Auburn has averaged 148.9 yards.
* The Auburn passing game is currently averaging only 5.5 yards per pass attempt. The last time Auburn had a lower pass-attempt average was in 1973.
* In the last eight meetings with Ole Miss Auburn has averaged 200.1 yards rushing per game while holding the Rebels to 85.8 yards.
* In the last 20 meetings against the Rebels, Auburn has averaged 383 yards and 26 points per game while allowing 212 yards and 16 points per game.
* From 2002-2005, Auburn averaged 30.1 point per game and 23.2 points from 2006-2008.
* In the last 24 games Auburn has averaged more than six yards per play in one game. In the previous 24 games, they had 9 games with over six yards per play.

Scoring Margins...

Through eight games, Auburn is minus-five on offense and minus-seven on defense in scoring margins with an average score of 19-16. Ole Miss is plus-eight on offense and minus-three on defense with an average score of 27-24. Taking Auburn's average score against the Rebels scoring margins and Ole Miss wins, 24-16. Taking the average score of Ole Miss against Auburn's scoring margins and the Rebels are victorious again, 20-19. Average the two scores and Ole Miss wins 22-18.

Taking the scoring margins and average scores from the last three games and Ole Miss wins 26-16 or 25-21 for an average score of 26-19. Taking the scoring margins and have scores from the two common opponents (Vanderbilt and Arkansas) and Auburn defeats Ole Miss 17-16 or loses 19-15 for an average score of 18-16 in favor of Ole Miss. The numbers indicate an Ole Miss victory, but a close game.

Final Thoughts...

Ole Miss has played well enough to at least be 6-2 on the season and Auburn has played bad enough to be 2-6. Though the Auburn offense showed life during the first half of the West Virginia game, the number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball offset any team improvement. The slight advantage Auburn had coming into the West Virginia game in terms of the Mountaineers not knowing Auburn's plan of attack will not be there for the Ole Miss game. The Ole Miss coaching staff will better prepared for Auburn's base offense, which means the Rebels will sell out to stuff the Auburn running game.

The decision to go back to a traditional offensive scheme was a good start for the Tigers but if Auburn is to have any chance of winning any of its remaining conference games Auburn will need to be more aggressive on offense. Last week Auburn ran the ball 83 percent of the time on first down allowing Kodi Burns only four pass attempts. Auburn will need to be at 35-40 percent pass on first down to keep the Rebel defense honest. In its last three games Ole Miss has held its opponents to 96 yards rushing per game, including Alabama, which was held to 107 yards rushing. In those same three games, the Rebels secondary was toasted for an average of 276 yards passing per game. Auburn will not be able to win this game simply by running the ball.

In the last four games Auburn has passed for an average of 119 yards while completing only 51 percent of its passes. Not only are these pitiful numbers on their own, it's even scarier when faced with the practicality the Auburn passing game will be essential in defeating Ole Miss. Whether it was design by the coaches or decisions made by Kodi Burns, Auburn did not go vertical against West Virginia. Auburn must take advantage of eight-man fronts by the Rebel defense by attacking the Ole Miss secondary deep or peppering them with a high number of first down passes.

There has been no hint of the Auburn offense playing a complete game and the most that can be expected is a respectable half. Auburn has basically completed a full circle on offense, wasting seven games to return to where they left off against Alabama in 2007. Once again, Auburn's offense can be described as a conservative offense that lacks imagination and big-play ability. Added to their anguish are a struggling kicking game and a defense nowhere close to being healthy. It has been a long and treacherous journey with three more difficult stops to make.

Ole Miss 27, Auburn 16

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