No. 19 Ole Miss Rebels (6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS) vs. Auburn Tigers (4-3 SU, 1-6 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Saturday October 31st, 12:00PM EST
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium Auburn, A.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MISS -7.5/AUB +7.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
Last week Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers disappointing 2015 campaign suffered another blow in a heartbreaking loss to Arkansas 54-46 following 4 overtimes. Not only was the 4 overtime loss heartbreaking in itself but the loss dropped Auburn to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the SEC which is at the cellar of the West Division. Now the team that started the year ranked 6th in the country has some work to do just to remain bowl eligible with a tough schedule to close out the season. The dirty work starts this Saturday when Auburn host no. 19 Ole Miss inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Rebels bounced back from their upset loss against Memphis with a rather impressive victory over no. 15 Texas A&M. Last week I predicted the Rebels defense would get back on track against the Aggies and they did so in a huge way. The Ole Miss defense rattled Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen for 3 interceptions and just 88 yards of passing in a dominate 23-3 victory. It was the lowest point total for a Kevin Sumlin led Aggies team since his arrival in College Station back in 2012. For the Rebels, it proved just what they are capable of on the defensive side of the ball despite poor defensive showings against Alabama and Memphis. However if the Rebels defense can replicate their performance from last Saturday, they can still accomplish big things this season.
Despite their two losses, Ole Miss still controls their destiny in the SEC West with just 1 conference defeat. The Rebels have yet to lose to an SEC West opponent going back to their huge victory against Alabama. If they can keep winning, it will put them into a battle with no. 4 LSU on November 21st for the opportunity to play for the SEC Championship given they can also survive the Egg Bowl. Of course, a lot of things can change before November but those goals are still attainable. This week Ole Misss defense will be faced with the challenge of stopping Auburns run attack.
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The Tigers are not quite as dominate on the ground as they have been in previous years under Gus Malzahn. However, they are still a dangerous team nevertheless on the offensive side of the football. Auburn running back Peyton Barber rushed for 120 yards and 4 touchdowns in the 4 overtime loss to Arkansas last week and he remains the focal point for the offense. The problem is Auburn has not had any help for Barber. The quarterback play has been horrid with former starter Jeremy Johnson and now Sean White. Typically in previous years, Malzahn has had running quarterbacks that have propelled the offense to some of the most lethal rushing threats in the country.
However they have not had a quarterback to be remotely efficient running the football this season nor a passing threat to supplant the lack of production in the run game. Instead, Auburn is still struggling to find answers. WR Ricardo Louis has been a go to guy on the outside but the trouble remains getting him the ball. It will be interesting to see what type of scheme Malzahn draws up this week against a tough Rebels defense. The Rebels defense is tough between the tackles but perhaps they can get the defensive line moving vertically and hit some holes to get things going offensively.
Ole Miss should be able to have success offensively. The key will be the turnovers. Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly has had a great season but the interceptions have been an issue in recent weeks. Kelly has thrown 5 picks in the last 2 games alone and considering how the Ole Miss offense relies on their passing attack; they cannot afford to give away the football.
With that being said, I do not believe any Auburn defender can matchup with WR Laquon Treadwell on the outside given Kelly can stay away from the interceptions. It took Treadwell a while to return to form following last years injury but he is finally looking like his old self again. The Rebels wide receiver has posted 3 straight 100 plus yard receiving efforts with 4 touchdowns during that time period. Look for Ole Miss to target him heavily again this weekend as they look to keep their SEC Title hopes alive.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I believe Ole Miss will keep things rolling this week through their defense. Auburn is really struggling offensively despite hitting some big plays against Arkansas and I think they will be apparent again on Saturday. Take Ole Miss -7.5
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