My view

The results of the football game between Auburn and Ole Miss - a one-sided 27-3 Tiger win - were somewhat determined early when the Rebs could not capitalize on an opening possession opportunity.

OXFORD, MS - The Ole Miss Rebels (3-5/1-4 SEC) needed something good to happen early in the game at Auburn (6-2/4-2 SEC) in order to take the crowd out of the game and make a statement against the Tigers.

The opportunity Ole Miss was seeking came early on their first possession of the football, after Will Moseley boomed the kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. Auburn's quarterback threw an incomplete pass on first down, Kenny Irons could only get four yards on his first carry and McKinley Boykin sacked Brandon Cox for an eight-yard loss. Auburn punted and was guilty of interfering with Mike Espy catching the football, so the Rebels had the football to start their first series at the Auburn 40 yard line.

After two Rebel first downs and an Auburn penalty, the Rebels were looking at first and goal at the Tiger four-yard line. Micheal Spurlock got two yards on the first down, then watching on TV it appeared Brandon Jacobs on his first carry of the season got the ball into the end zone on second down. The play was not reviewed and there was no line charge on the third down play. A bad toss on fourth and goal at the Auburn two gave the momentum back to Auburn.

This meant the Tigers had dodged the initial bullets by the Rebels' defense and offense. Auburn proceeded to methodically flip-flop the field position and eventually won the game going away, 27-3.

The Ole Miss defense played well but was obviously worn down near the end because they were on the field so much of the game. Auburn held the football almost 10 minutes longer than the Rebels. The Rebel defense held the No. 1 offensive team in the SEC to 62 total yards under their seven-game average going into the Ole Miss game.

DT McKinley Boykin played an excellent game along with Patrick Willis, Garry Pack and Kelvin Robinson. Corvelli Haynes played gallantly since he got very little practice all week. Willis had 13 tackles and would have had a few more were he not wearing the club on his right hand. Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville said after the game that "the Ole Miss defense is highly underrated."

Auburn showed size is not the most important ingredient on defense as the Tigers used linebackers that averaged 210 pounds per man to completely shut down the Ole Miss running game. The Auburn front four kept the Ole Miss blockers off their linebackers by getting a good push at the line of scrimmage. Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeran said earlier in the week the Rebels had to run the football on Auburn in order to have a chance to win. It didn't happen, the Rebels' offense managed only 23 yards rushing on 27 carries. Speed and quickness are not gifts you can coach, Auburn has plenty of both on defense. Good coaching shows players how to more effectively use their gifts.

Offensively, the Tigers used trickery to their advantage against an aggressive Rebel defense. The first Tiger touchdown came off a fake end around run as Courtney Taylor sold the run, then pulled up and lobbed the 28-yard touchdown pass to Devin Aromashodu on the fourth play of the second quarter. Rebel corner back Travis Johnson read the handoff to Taylor as a run, then could not get back quick enough to cover the 6-2 Aromashodu. Auburn quarterback, Brandon Cox, showed smart judgment a couple of times when Ole Miss jumped offsides on defense. Facing fourth and goal at the Rebel one, an Ole Miss defensive lineman jumped into the neutral zone, the center snapped the ball and Cox calmly tosses a one-yard fade to Obomanu who outjumped Trumaine McBride for the ball. On the other, Cox threw a 15-yard fade and the Rebel defender interfered for a penalty first down.

Ole Miss had one more opportunity to make a game of it early in the second quarter when Auburn punt returner Tre Smith fumbled a Rob Park punt deep in Auburn territory. The Rebels got the football, trailing 7-0, at the Tigers' 28. Mico McSwain got a quick seven yards, Spurlock threw an incomplete pass and Antonio Turner was gobbled up for a five-yard loss. Matt Hinkle came in and drilled a 43-yard field goal right down the middle. Auburn countered with two field goals of their own, the last one a gift compliments of a poorly thrown third down Spurlock pass that was intercepted.

Trailing 13-3 at halftime, the Rebel offense got the ball to start the second half with a chance to make a comeback and claw their way back into the game. Auburn said no way, they loaded up the box and dared Micheal Spurlock to beat them by throwing the football. It was three plays and out for the Rebel offense and the outcome became a matter of time.

Ethan Flatt got his first opportunity to play this season on the Rebels' first possession of the fourth quarter. It appeared Flatt gave the offense some spark as he managed to complete 11-of-17 passes for 81 yards on four offensive possessions. Robert Lane didn't have much impact on the game although he played quite a bit at fullback/H-back and at tight end. Auburn is an excellent tackling team and they kept McSwain bottled up all game. Irons showed why he is leading the SEC in rushing, finishing with 101 yards on 32 carries. He runs hard with a low center of gravity and excellent leg drive.

Auburn showed why they lead the SEC in third down conversions (48.7%) as they converted on 8-of-17 (47%) on the afternoon. The Rebels could only manage 4-of-15 third down attempts. Coach Ed Orgeron nailed it in his post-game radio comments. He said the Rebels "didn't take care of the football, didn't make plays when needed, got beat on the corners and this team has to get better if they are going to win games."

Without some push from the offensive line, it is impossible to run the football, get adequate pass protection and play-action passes do not fool anyone. The off week will be good for the Rebels. It will give them a chance to regroup, evaluate what they are doing, especially on offense, and see if they can make some positive changes as they enter the final three-game stretch of the regular season.

The Rebels must win out to be bowl eligible, so the seniors have to decide if they are going to lead this team or step aside for younger guys to play the remaining games against Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State.

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