Auburn vs. Ole Miss: A Closer Look

Taking an in-depth look at the Auburn game against the Ole Miss Rebels this weekend.

When Ole Miss Has The Ball: The challenge will be to stop the Ole Miss running game that is averaging 162 yards per contest. Perhaps the main reason for the Rebels' success on the ground is a massive offensive line led by All-American left tackle Michael Oher (6-6,318). Left guard Reid Neely (6-6, 310), center Daverin Geralds (6-2, 312), right guard Maurice Miller (6-4, 343) and right tackle John Jerry (6-5, 350) give the Rebels an imposing front five on offense. With Auburn banged up on defense and coming off consecutive disappointing efforts against the run, this is easily the story of the game from an Auburn defensive standpoint.

When Auburn Has The Ball: Just like Auburn's ability to stop the run will be a key on defense, being able to run the football will be huge for the Tigers' offense and quarterback Kodi Burns. Averaging 137 yards per game on the ground, Auburn is coming off a 149-yard effort against West Virginia. The previous four games the Tigers rushed for a total of only 333 yards. It won't be easy as Ole Miss enters the game allowing just 110.9 rushing yards per contest.

Ole Miss Player To Watch: Auburn has struggled with diminutive running backs in its last two outings and face another player in that category this week in Rebel speedster Dexter McCluster. Listed at just 5-8, 165, McCluster does everything for the Ole Miss offense. He has 295 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 51 attempts. He's caught 30 passes for 451 yards and one touchdown. He's also attempted four passes with two of them intercepted. One of the most dangerous players in the league, McCluster could deal the Auburn defense fits in the same way Tennessee's Gerald Jones did from the shotgun formation.

Speedy Dexter McCluster is a player to watch on the Ole Miss offense.

Auburn Player To Watch: Quarterback Kodi Burns. As much as running the football is imperative for Auburn, it's vitally important because it would allow Burns the chance to hit some plays down the field for the Tigers if the Ole Miss defense stacks the box with nine men. This season the Rebels are allowing 234.2 passing yards per game and have given up 13 touchdowns. Opponents are completing 63.4 percent of their passes this season. If Burns can get to either of those numbers the Tigers win the game.

By The Numbers: In a strange coincidence both Auburn and Ole Miss have attempted the same number of passes this season at 219. The Rebels have completed just two more passes than the Tigers but have thrown three more interceptions. The difference comes in the results though. Completing just two more passes, Ole Miss has thrown for 1,725 yards compared to just 1,212 yards for Auburn. Essentially throwing the same amount of passes and completing the same amount the Rebels are averaging 64 more yards per game through the air, or an average of four more yards per completion.

Analysis: You never want to label a game as a must-win but this is as close as it gets for the Auburn Tigers. With games still remaining against Georgia and Alabama, if the Tigers hope to go bowling they would go a long way towards that with a win over the Rebels. Conversely Ole Miss has already topped its win total from a year ago and is coming off a road win at Arkansas. Much like Auburn, a win this week would virtually guarantee a bowl game for the Rebels with Louisiana-Monroe coming up on Nov. 15. With both teams hungry for a win this one could come down to mistakes.

Auburn has cut down on the turnovers and penalties in recent weeks but still has problems with the basics at times such as kicking, punting and most recently tackling. Putting together four quarters is the goal for the Tigers and if that happens they should win the game. If it doesn't it will likely mean another long week on the Plains.

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