Hugh Freeze says the most plays he’s ever run in a game is 117 when he was a head coach at Lambuth University. Don’t expect either team to run that many when his Ole Miss squad plays at Auburn on Saturday, but there could still be a high number of plays when it’s all said and done.
Both teams run an up-tempo style offense that makes it difficult on the opposing defense and puts a premium on conditioning.
“I’d like to think we’re in pretty good condition, but I’m sure Hugh’s team is, too,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We both rely on tempo, and I think we’ll be somewhat familiar on both sides with the styles.”
Auburn had the luxury of an off week coming into the game, whereas Ole Miss had to play at Alabama, but both teams will be ready to play Saturday night. It’s a critical game in the SEC West, and one with bowl implications.
What Auburn needs to do to win: Auburn looks to be as healthy now as it has been all season, but the question is how well will it play together on Saturday? The Tigers need continuity on both sides of the football. Offensively, the key will be the running game. Ole Miss has been susceptible to the run this season, and Auburn has three talented backs who can take advantage. The X-factor might be Corey Grant. He was banged up against LSU, but if he’s back at full health, he could be dangerous against the Rebels.
What Ole Miss needs to do to win: With road wins at Vanderbilt and Texas, Ole Miss was one of the most talked-about teams in college football. It can’t let one loss to Alabama derail the train of momentum it's currently riding. The Rebels have a very potent offense, and although they were shut out last weekend, they need to continue to do what they do. Expect a heavy dose of running back Jeff Scott, and quarterback Bo Wallace will have to play to better if they want to leave with a victory. He struggled against the Crimson Tide, but he’s capable of a big game.
Players to watch
Auburn RB Tre Mason: I mentioned Grant, and both he and Cameron Artis-Payne will have a bigger role in the offense this week, but don’t be fooled -- Mason is still the man. Auburn went to him early and often against LSU, and it could be more of the same this weekend.
Ole Miss LB Serderius Bryant: When Denzel Nkemdiche went down with an injury in the season opener, somebody had to step up. That somebody was Bryant. In just three games this season, he leads the team with 35 tackles. Nkemdiche returned against Alabama, but Bryant still led the team with nine tackles against the Tide.
Auburn DT Nosa Eguae: It was announced this week that Eguae was moving from defensive end to defensive tackle, and he’ll get the start Saturday against Ole Miss. Listed at 269 pounds, he’s a little undersized, but it’s a huge opportunity for him in his first start of the season.
“It is very critical. We have the best fans in college football. That atmosphere, especially in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State, was second to none. We will need four quarters of that, and that will be a huge advantage for us with our crowd.” -- Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on the atmosphere inside Jordan-Hare Stadium