Auburn-Ole Miss: 9-0 Tigers (And Fans) Make a Statement at Mississippi
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The undefeated Auburn Tigers finally managed to have a relaxed fourth quarter in an SEC game. It was the first time that has happened this season.
After nail-biting fourth quarters against Mississippi State, South Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU, Auburn managed to build a 44-17 lead through three quarters in Oxford, allowing some backups to play for most of the fourth quarter.
Ole Miss committed to filling the box to slow down Cam Newton and Auburn's rushing attack. It kind of worked—Newton only gained 45 yards on 11 carries. But Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb made sure that the Auburn rushing attack didn't lose any steam.
Newton and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn took advantage of the Ole Miss game plan by attacking through the air. They scored on all but two possessions—one punt and one turnover.
Defensively, Ted Roof's players responded nicely to an 83-yard run by speedy freshman Jeff Scott. After that, they only surrendered 10 points until the fourth quarter, when the backups entered the game.
Special teams continued to be above average, with Demond Washington's kickoff return for a touchdown and excellent kick coverage all night.
So the Tigers made a statement on the field last Saturday. They handled the No. 1 BCS ranking, and they handled their opponent fairly easily on the road, something they hadn't done previously.
Auburn fans flooded Oxford for the entire weekend. As someone who was there, I can safely say that was one of the largest Auburn away crowds that I have seen. Somewhere between a third and a fourth of the fans in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium were Auburn fans.
Tiger Walk was wild and packed with people. Auburn fans entered the stadium early and stayed to the very end to celebrate another victory.
The Auburn Family is beginning to really believe in this team. There's something special about the way they play together and stay positive and focused when bad breaks or big plays occur. They certainly have been more than entertaining to watch.
Sure, there are plenty of areas to improve in. There always are. But that performance was exactly what the coaching staff was looking for heading into Homecoming week.
Saturday night broke many of the negative stereotypes about Auburn: They can't throw, they're a one-man team, they haven't played well on the road—all the normal excuses that are thrown out there.
Despite making a strong statement, there is still a ton of work to do for this team.
Auburn must continue to improve.
Georgia and Alabama await.
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