Down to the Crossroads.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Down to the Crossroads.

Auburn has not lost in Oxford since 2012.
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! Saturday morning, the Auburn Tigers will take on the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford, Mississippi. The Tigers are coming off a disappointing loss to South Carolina in Columbia. Ole Miss has lost 2 in a row in disappointing fashion. Against Alabama 2 weeks ago, Ole Miss lost by 15 points, despite scoring 48 themselves. In Fayetteville, Arkansas last weekend, the mighty Ole Miss offense melted down under the weight of 7 quarterback turnovers. Both teams are looking to right their respective ships at the expense of the other team.

     As of today, Auburn seems to remain COVID-free, and should be close to full strength for this game. Across the league, the virus has wreaked havoc with scheduling. Arkansas was scheduled for a bye week. Florida was supposed to host Missouri, but their athletic department is still locked down. Missouri will host Kentucky, instead. Kentucky was supposed to host Georgia this weekend. Georgia will instead take their bye week tomorrow. Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt are all scheduled for bye weeks this weekend. Vanderbilt and Florida hope to have their virus troubles under control by next week, as they have no more bye weeks to give away.

     The Ole Miss defense has been worse than suspect this season, and will easily be the most generous Auburn has faced this year. As much as I’ve complained about Auburn’s defense in this space, this Ole Miss unit has a long way to go. Ole Miss has surrendered 180 points this season in just 4 games, an average of 45 per game. If there was ever a unit for a struggling Auburn offense to improve against, this is it.

     Until last game, the Ole Miss offense has been prolific. Ole Miss had scored 118 points in 3 games, for an average of 39.3 per game. After the turnover issues in Arkansas, those numbers are down to 139 and 34.7. Often Arkansas used just a 3 man line, and 6 or 7 defensive backs against Ole Miss. I would expect Auburn to try some of this, however, I’m not sure Auburn has 7 defensive backs that they are ready to put on the field at the same time.

     As mentioned earlier, this is a critical game for Auburn. Predicting the remainder of Auburn’s schedule, Alabama looks like a certain loss, and beating Texas A&M the week after the Iron Bowl doesn’t look too hopeful, either. If Auburn is going to get to 6 wins, it needs to beat Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and LSU. The road starts tomorrow in Oxford.

     Weather pundits are expecting a mostly cloudy day in Oxford for this game, with the temp climbing towards 70 at the end of the game. There is a slight chance of a shower during the game, but most likely the cold front producing the showers will be well past before kickoff.

     It’s a thin slate of SEC games this week. Auburn and Ole Miss kick off the action at 11:00 AM Central Daylight Time. The winner gets back into contention for runner-up in the SEC West. The loser starts wondering if a bowl game is possible this year.

     On the 2:30 PM CBS game, Alabama visits a slumping Tennessee team. I’ve heard lots of anti-Big Ten and PAC 12 chatter this year, but I think we need to get those teams playing, in order to fill out a playoff bracket. Of the teams that have played so far this season, it has been Clemson and Alabama, and everyone else looks way, way behind.

     At 3:00 PM on the SEC Network, Kentucky visits Missouri. We’ll find out if the Tiger points outburst against LSU was the real deal, or a fluke. After a shaky start, Kentucky looks pretty solid at this point.

     At 6:00 PM on ESPN, South Carolina visits LSU. The Gamecocks have strung a couple of wins in a row together. Meanwhile, LSU has been a mess, especially on defense. Also, LSU will be starting true freshman quarterback TJ Finley due to injury.

     The Auburn Ole Miss game will be televised on the SEC Network this week. We will have our usual Open Thread up and running. I’ll offer comments on various SEC games, and will have the play-by-play this week. War Eagle, and let’s beat Ole Miss!

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