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Ole Miss Rebels vs. Auburn Tigers Preview and Prediction

Author:
Chad Kelly

Chad Kelly

Ole Miss (6-2, 3-1 SEC) bounced back from its disappointing loss at Memphis with a 23-3 win against Texas A&M last week. The Rebels moved into third place in the SEC West with the victory and kept their conference championship hopes alive.

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Auburn (4-3, 1-3) suffered a different fate last weekend. The Tigers entered with a two-game winning streak — which included their first SEC win of 2015 — before falling 54-46 in overtime at Arkansas, dropping to last place in the division.

But anything can happen on any given Saturday in the SEC. Can Auburn pull off the upset or will Ole Miss keep momentum alive in its quest for an SEC West division title?

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Ole Miss at Auburn

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV: ESPN
Spread: Ole Miss -7.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Sean White vs. Ole Miss defense

White has shown consistency since taking over at quarterback for Heisman bust Jeremy Johnson. White, a true freshman, has 805 yards and one interception on 62-of-97 passing, but he has yet to throw for a touchdown.

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Ole Miss enters with 11 total interceptions, which ranks second among SEC teams. The Rebels also have 13 total sacks and have recorded two or more in each of their last four games.

White faces his toughest matchup since taking over for Johnson and could struggle against a veteran defense. There''s always the threat of a breakout performance for future first-round draft pick/athletic freak Robert Nkemdiche too.

2. Muschamp's defensive woes

Forget Johnson's Heisman talk, first-year defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has been the biggest bust at Auburn. When he was hired in December, the thought of his defensive prowess matched with Gus Malzahn's offensive brilliance seemed like a championship-winning combo.

Instead, Auburn ranks last in the SEC in total defense and shows little signs of improving. It's amazing considering no Muschamp-coached defense has ranked lower than the top 10 since 2009. But instead, Auburn has seen a regression under Muschamp and seem incapable of stopping anyone, let alone an offense as talented as Ole Miss'.

3. Can Ole Miss prove its legitimacy?

Sure, the Rebels managed to pick up a convincing win at home against Texas A&M, but are we really sold? The Memphis loss is huge, even though the Tigers could be the best non-Power 5 team in FBS in 2015.

A win at home is one thing, but a victory in a tough road environment would add to Ole Miss' legitimacy. The Rebels need this win just as much as Auburn does to avoid catastrophe — which at this point seems inevitable.

Final Analysis

The Ole Miss offense should see a stellar performance against a struggling Auburn defense. Chad Kelly leads the SEC with 2,475 yards passing, 18 touchdowns and a 309.4 yards per game average.

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Auburn has allowed an SEC-worst 29.7 points per game, which provides little optimism facing Kelly and a plethora of talented Ole Miss skill players. This should be an easy win for the Rebels, but then again, we've said that twice before and were proven otherwise.


Prediction: Ole Miss 35, Auburn 10

— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.