Houston Nutt does it every year.
That one upset. The one that makes people's jaws drop. The one that nobody saw coming. The one that keeps his seat cool.
This was supposed to be "The One." The 1960 National Championship team from Mississippi is being honored at halftime. It's in Oxford and the Grove. This was supposed to be "The One."
Guess what? Like the drill sergeant-turned-therapist from the Geico commercial might say, "Life doesn't always work out like you want it to, you wimp!"
No. 1 Auburn proved why it's the top team in the nation, putting on a show for poll voters and Heisman voters. Auburn crushed the upset-minded Ole Miss Rebel (Black Bears), 51-31, and it wasn't even as close as that score would suggest.
After falling behind very early on a big TD run by Ole Miss, Cam Newton caught a Kodi Burns pass for a TD. The score was 14-14 after the first quarter. After that, Auburn outscored Ole Miss 37-17, having leads as big as 44-17 and 51-24.
Here I hand out grades for offense, defense, special teams, coaching, officiating, overall performance, officiating, and I hand out MVP awards.
Aside from a horrible fumble in the second quarter (that ended up not hurting Auburn at all) the offense could do no wrong. 572 yards. 28 first downs. Cam went 18-24 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. He hauled in another TD on a pass from former QB Kodi Burns. Mike Dyer ran for close to 180 yards and had a touchdown. Auburn possessed the ball for 33:14. Oh, and they scored 51 points. On the road. A-plus here.
They started off horribly, allowing an 83-yard touchdown run by Ole Miss and giving up 14 points in the first quarter. But after that the defense changed its scheme and shut the Rebels down, giving up a combined three points in the second and third quarters combined.
Ole Miss had no first downs in the third quarter. Thirty-one points isn't attractive, but only 17 of those came when AU's defense was actually trying and wasn't playing with a cushion. The defense had an interception in the red zone. Nothing spectacular, but the defense didn't really play as badly as 31 points and 407 yards suggest.
Special Teams: A+
Special teams did no wrong. Wes Byrum was 3-of-3 on field goals. No big kick returns were allowed. Demond Washington had over 170 yards returning, including a kickoff return for a TD that sparked a 20-0 run by Auburn that blew the game wide open. One punt all night, and that wasn't returned. Near-perfect night for special teams.
Gus Malzahn was on fire tonight. Once again, Grimes' boys were ready to play. Heck, Ted Roof's scheme adjustment provided two quarters of Ole Miss pain on offense. Chizik's team took care of business.
Wow. An SEC crew that wasn't flag happy or made bad calls. I wouldn't mind if these refs stayed with Auburn for its last three games. I thought pigs would fly before I ever saw competent SEC refs again.
A 20-point win on the road in the SEC is always an A-deserving performance. The offense rolled, the defense got better and better as the game went on, special teams were perfect...One of the more complete games played by Auburn this year.
Offensive MVP: Cam Newton, QB
Cam went 18-for-24 for 209 yards, 188 of those coming in the first half of play. He also rushed for 45 yards, but don't think that's because of Ole Miss. He ran the ball very little in this game. But the highlight of the game was his great catch in the corner of the end zone in good coverage for a touchdown. Runner up: Mike Dyer
Defensive MVP: Demond Washington, CB
While he was beaten for a TD in the first quarter, he changed the complexion of the entire game in the second quarter. Backed up in the red zone trying to hold on to a 17-14 lead, Auburn's talented corner jumped in front of a Jeremiah Masoli pass and hauled it in for an INT at the two-yard line. Auburn then scored to make it 24-14 and never look back. His big returns help too. Runner up: Zach Clayton, DT
Overall MVP: Cam Newton, QB
While Demond was big on defense and special teams tonight, it's obvious Auburn's MOST VALUABLE PLAYER is Cameron Newton. He was a rushing TD away from having a trifecter of a TD pass, a TD catch, and a TD run. Too bad Cam barely ran the ball at all.
UT-Chattanooga looms for No. 1 Auburn's homecoming. Professional way to sum up this game: Auburn shifts is focus next to UTC, who enters the game 5-3 and tries to take is shot at No. 1. My way of summing up this game: Auburn plays Georgia in two weeks!