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Ole Miss vs. Auburn Football Prediction and Preview

Ole Miss Rebels vs. Auburn Tigers Football Prediction and Preview

Rebels, Tigers tangle in Jordan-Hare Stadium for critical SEC West showdown between Top 25 teams

OK, question No. 1 for you … do you like football that is highly offensive? If you like high-octane football, you've come to the right place. Ole Miss (6-1, 3-1 SEC) is No. 3 in the country averaging 541 yards per game, and Auburn (5-2, 2-1) is No. 31 at 448 yards per contest. So if you are the Daktronics operator at Jordan-Hare Stadium, prepare to reach your tipping point of tolerance since both teams have a knack of piling up the touchdowns and merely outscoring their opposition.

For the Rebels, Matt Corral asserts that his team is crossing that bridge from good to great. Do you believe him? Well, he and his cohorts continued to impress in last week's 31-17 win over LSU, an outcome that could've been much worse too.

No. 10 Ole Miss at No. 18 Auburn

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Spread: Auburn -2

When Ole Miss Has the Ball

Yeah, I know this is a no-brainer for every team, but the Rebels really need to get off to a good start here on the Plains. This could be one of those trap-door games for Johnny Reb, as they need a powerful, dominating start to crush the Tigers' will to compete. Another slow start this Saturday and this one becomes a four-quarter game. I mean, you don't want that Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd getting into the game and raising the decibel level to that of a Metallica concert, right? Then avoid that slow start like last week against LSU or you could find yourself in deep didgeridoo.

Secondly, don't make Matt Corral run the ball 30 times this week. Of course, if the Rebels can run the ball between the tackles like they did when they punched LSU in the mouth time and time again with Snoop Conner, Jerrion Ealy, and Henry Parrish Jr., it'll be a huge difference-maker for that offense's confidence. Against LSU, Conner had 117 yards, Ealy had 97, and Parrish had 32. The biggest shock was seeing them run simple running plays to convert third-and-19, third-and-12, and another third-and-12 in the third quarter alone as the Rebels built up that big 31-7 lead. Corral still ran the ball 12 times for 24 yards, but it was good to see the running back corps step up and prove their worth to dominate LSU. Can Auburn put the stops to the Ole Miss ground game? AU is ranked fourth in the SEC, giving up just 124 rushing yards per game.

OK Rebels, I know you're tired of hearing this, but … stop with the damn penalties. (I feel like an angry father standing in the doorway with his arms folded as his son stumbles home at 3 a.m., reeking of booze.) It's become a reoccurring bad dream that the Rebs keep committing a metric ton of penalties. Going into game eight, Ole Miss is dead last at 130th in the nation in penalties, committing 10.3 infractions per game. This is the second time this season I had to mention penalties in an Ole Miss preview. That's two too many.

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When Auburn Has the Ball

You have to wonder which Bo Nix is going to show up. We've seen the good and the bad from the Auburn field general this season. But when he's been good, he's been really good. It's been well-documented that Nix has been fire at home and a pale of cold water on the road. But it's not all road games where he plays a little sketchy, remember he got pulled in that Georgia State game and watched as TJ Finley take over and bail them out against the Panthers? Nix must be on his game in this one, especially if the Rebels force Auburn to lean on its air game here.

And that, of course, leads me to the running game. Despite seeing the Rebels put the clamps on the LSU ground corps, it is imperative the Plainsmen get Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter untracked and ripping off five-, six-, and seven-yard runs to open things up for the passing game. The ground attack hasn't gone over 200 yards since their cakewalks against Akron and FCS Alabama State in the first two weeks. They can't be one-dimensional here.

The Rebels stops unit may be ranked 11th in the SEC in scoring defense (28.3 ppg), but we all saw some real defensive might against LSU. After the first two drives last Saturday, the Tigers had piled up 160 yards and a 7-0 lead. In the next seven drives covering the second and third quarters, that same offense had just 81 yards in 18 plays. In that time, the Rebels had piled up a formidable 31-7 lead, and the game was pretty much dunzo. On top of that, they held LSU to just 77 rushing yards, its lowest output on the ground this season. And remember that Tyrion Davis-Price rumbled for a school-record 287 yards the week before against Florida.

Final Analysis

The biggest key to this game could very well be in the areas of turnovers and penalties. We already discussed the Rebels' shortcomings in the yellow flag department, but on the other hand, they do lead the SEC in turnover margin (+7, tied with Alabama). Despite the high-risk offense that Corral and Co. run, they have only turned things over five times this year. If Auburn is going to pull the upset, they're going to need a gift or two or three from the Rebel offense.

And even though every team is susceptible to being flat or having that one bad game, I still think all things being equal, this Ole Miss team is outstanding.

Prediction: Ole Miss 35, Auburn 24

Podcast: Week 9 Preview, Predictions + Picks Against the Spread & Texas Tech Coaching Search

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.