- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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AUBURN, Ala. -- Ole Miss might have been the team ranked in the top 25, but it was Auburn who won Saturday night, making it 17 wins in the last 21 games against the Rebels. Here are three things we learned from the Tigers’ 30-22 victory.
The bye week paid off: Auburn’s open weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. The Tigers were physically beaten up after the LSU game, so it gave them a chance to get healthy. But they also had two weeks to prepare for Ole Miss, and it showed. The opening drive was Auburn’s quickest scoring drive in an SEC game this season. It took just over a minute and a half for the Tigers to go 80 yards on six plays. Meanwhile, Ole Miss looked like it was still hung over from the Alabama game last week. The Rebels didn’t score their first touchdown until the second half, and by that time, it was too late.
Auburn is a run-first team: Gus Malzahn is known for his up-tempo, spread offense, but when it comes down to it, he wants to run the football. That couldn’t be more true this year as the Tigers have not three but four very capable runners. With 140 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, quarterback Nick Marshall emerged as a running threat, joining the backfield trio of Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant. For the first time ever, Auburn has now had four different players rush for over 100 yards in one season. Until the Tigers find a go-to wide receiver, expect more of the same in coming weeks.
The atmosphere is back: After four games, it was obvious that Auburn liked playing at home much better than it did playing on the road. However, the players had not seen an atmosphere quite like they saw Saturday night. Jordan-Hare Stadium was rocking again. On one series in particular, Ole Miss was backed up against its own end zone, right in front of the student section. The Rebels threw three straight incomplete passes and had to punt it away. The crowd made its presence felt. After last year, a lot of fans remained skeptical about this Auburn team, but they’re starting to believe again. Just ask Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace.