A Daunting Trip to Oxford.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Daunting Trip to Oxford.

Can Auburn win again, this year?
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! Saturday morning in the early gray, the Auburn Tigers will visit the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford. Auburn comes into this game as damaged goods, and yet is still a slight favorite over the home team. Auburn has not been impressive offensively this season, but goes against an Ole Miss defense that has not been able to stop anybody. Auburn has been very sloppy with the ball at times this season, and a likely wet field on this day will not help. Rain should move into the Oxford area Friday evening. The good news is that most, if not all of the rain should be over by the time the 11:00 AM game kicks off.

     Auburn needs 6 wins to become bowl eligible, and currently has 4. The Liberty Flames are the only non-conference game left, which should get the Tigers to 5 wins. If Auburn can’t beat Ole Miss, is it reasonable to expect them to beat Texas A&M, much less Georgia and Alabama on the road? Auburn has to face the Rebels, the Bulldogs and the Tide on the road. Only Texas A&M is at home, and Auburn has never beaten Texas A&M in Jordan Hare Stadium.

     Ole Miss can play fast and loose in this one, with no bowl bid on the line due to probation. I expect to see them try to jump on a wounded Tiger and have at it. Auburn has had difficulty with mobile quarterbacks who are able to sling the ball down the sideline. Ole Miss has exactly that, in Jordan Ta’amu. Last week, Ta’amu put up 528 yards of total offense on a decent Arkansas defense, 387 of it through the air. Ta’amu faces an Auburn defense that was supposed to be stellar this year, but could not stop the quarterback from running a couple of weeks ago, and could not prevent receivers from catching easy lobs, last week. Ole Miss lost receiver D. K. Metcalf for the season, this week. However, they still have A. J. Brown, Demarcus Lodge, Braylon Sanders and Elijah Moore. That’s a talented bunch to throw to!

     If there is a chance for the Auburn offense to finally get rolling, it is this game. Ole Miss is giving up over 210 yards per game on the ground this year, and almost 500 yards per game over all. Opponents are averaging 35 points per game on a severely undermanned defense. Ole Miss has been forcing some turnovers, of late. Auburn MUST take care of the football.

     Auburn should have the advantage on special teams, especially punting the football. Arryn Siposs on average is punting the ball 5 yards further than Ole Miss punter Mac Brown, and Ole Miss has a grand total of 8 punt return yards this season. Auburn was dangerous early on this season on punt returns, but the past two weeks have been either a case of dropping the ball on the ground, or letting it hit and roll.

     There is only a slight chance for a shower during this game, but a wet field is likely due to a front rolling through the night before. The game should feature clearing skies during the game, with comfortable temps in the mid 60s. This game will kick off at 11:00 AM Central Time, and will be nationally televised on ESPN. We’ll have our usual open thread up for this game, and a play-by-play at gametime. It’s going to be a strain on this night-shift guy!

A look at other SEC games this weekend, after the jump!

     In addition to the Auburn/Ole Miss tilt at 11:00 AM, Tulsa visits Arkansas. This should be a chance for Arkansas to get into the win column, against the 1-5 Golden Hurricane. However, most of Tulsa’s losses have been very close games, and there is a question whether Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey can go, this week.

     The SEC Game of the Week on CBS is Alabama at Tennessee. I’m really not sure how this game got picked. I would expect this one to be long over, before halftime.

     At 3:00 PM, Missouri hosts Memphis. The Tigers will definitely win this game! Which Tigers, I’m not really sure. Both teams had difficult losses last week, and might have a hangover. Mizzou was beaten up by the Tide, and Memphis absolutely blew a winnable game in the waning seconds, against undefeated Central Florida.

     In the evening 6:00 PM slate, Mississippi State visits LSU. Last season in Starkville, MSU pounded LSU 37-7. I’m not expecting that sort of result, this year, although the Bulldogs have had a week to rest up for this one, and concoct some tricks. LSU must guard against a let-down, after last week’s big win over Georgia.

     Vanderbilt visits Kentucky in the late game, at 6:30 PM. Kentucky is coming off a bye week, while Vanderbilt is coming off a game where they blew a 21-3 lead against Florida. I’d expect the Wildcats to win handily, at home.

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