Ole Miss, ranked No. 24 in this week's AP Top 25, faced its first major test of the 2013 campaign last weekend against No. 1 Alabama, and it wasn't pretty.
Hugh Freeze and the Rebels (3-1, 1-1 SEC) were shut out in Tuscaloosa, 25-0. The talented young Rebels only managed 205 total yards while allowing 434 yards to the Crimson Tide. Junior quarterback Bo Wallace went 17-of-31 passing for 159 yards while senior running back Jeff Scott managed only 28 yards on eight carries.
Auburn (3-1, 1-1 SEC) faced its first major test of the season two weeks ago against LSU. Gus Malzahn's squad was never truly in the ballgame, falling behind at the half, 21-0, before ultimately losing, 35-21. Auburn posted 437 total yards, but committed three turnovers and was 6-for-17 on third down.
Meanwhile, LSU posted 456 total yards behind sophomore running back Jeremy Hill, who gashed the visitors for 183 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.
Both Ole Miss and Auburn look to put the past behind them on Saturday in Alabama.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com
When: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line (via Covers.com): Ole Miss -2.5
Ole Miss Injuries (via USA Today)
Questionable: DE C.J. Johnson (Ankle)
Auburn Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: WR Jaylon Denson (Knee)
Questionable: DE Craig Sanders (Ankle), CB Chris Davis (Ankle)
Top Storyline: Ole Miss Looks to Get Running Game Back on Track
As much as Wallace lauded his receiving corps before the Alabama game, the Ole Miss offense has mainly been predicated on its running game this season.
The Rebels rank 48th in the country in yards rushing per game and 81st in yards passing per game.
Ole Miss curiously appeared to abandon its running game against Alabama, though. Jeff Scott had been averaging 110 yards per game and 9.4 yards per carry going into the matchup, but the Rebels gave him just eight carries against Alabama.
That has to change. It should be much easier against a Tigers defense ranked 94th in the nation in rushing yards allowed per attempt.
Prediction: Ole Miss 31, Auburn 24
Hill's explosion against Auburn may be a sign of things to come on Saturday, as long as the Rebels do what they should and give Scott the ball.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around the Rebels giving Wallace 31 pass attempts against Alabama. When a guy like Scott is rolling, you give him the pigskin.
Auburn is obviously tougher at home overall, but its run defense isn't any better. In fact, it may be worse at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers rank 102nd in the nation in rushing yards allowed per attempt at home.
Freeze needs to stick to the ground against Auburn. If he does that, I expect the Rebels to capture their fourth win of the season.
At least Auburn fans at the game will get to see an awesome flyover, per WarBlogle.com: