Auburn Football: Previewing the Ole Miss Game

Matthew BrennanCorrespondent IIOctober 25, 2011

Auburn Football: Previewing the Ole Miss Game

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    The Auburn Tigers (5-3, 3-2 SEC) return home to take on the Ole Miss Rebels (2-5,0-4 SEC) at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

    Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT, with the game airing on ESPNU.

    Auburn is looking to end the month of October with a winning record after playing four straight ranked teams prior to the Rebels.

The Opponent: Ole Miss Rebels

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    The Rebels are enduring a rough year, and many expect head coach Houston Nutt to be fired after the season. Ole Miss threatened to upset Arkansas last week but fell short in the second half with a 29-24 loss.

    Ole Miss enters Saturday having lost their last 10 SEC games. Their two wins this season are over FCS Southern Illinois and Fresno State.

    Their offense has been mostly ineffective this season but features two talented players in running back Jeff Scott and quarterback Randall Mackey. Scott ranks 13th in the SEC with 346 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

    Linebacker Mike Marry leads Ole Miss with 60 tackles on the season.

Rebels vs. Tigers

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    Auburn will face Ole Miss for the 36th time on Saturday. The Tigers have dominated to date, winning 26 meetings with only nine losses. Auburn has won eight of the last 10.

    The Tigers are looking to win their 12th consecutive game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. They are 12-2 against the Rebels at Auburn.

Tigers Look to Bounce Back from LSU Loss

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    Auburn will be looking to end the month of October on a high note after a 45-10 loss at No. 1 LSU. The defeat dropped the Tigers from the Top 25 Polls and the BCS Standings.

    The Tigers will be favored for the first time in a while after playing four ranked opponents, with three of those games coming on the road.

    “We’re excited to come back at home, excited to have a night game here at home," said head coach Gene Chizik. “We’ve been gone three of the last four weeks, against some tough road opponents, so it’s nice to play in front of our own crowd.”

Clint Moseley Ready for Second Start

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    Sophomore Clint Moseley made his first college start last week in a tough environment at LSU. The outcome didn’t turn out very well for Moseley, who was sacked six times. Now he will make his home debut against Ole Miss.

    Moseley did manage to throw for 145 yards and gave the coaches enough confidence to keep him under center this week.

    “When we gave Clint time to throw, I felt like he made some throws," said Chizik. “I felt like he made some throws when he didn’t have time.” 

McCalebb Grows into Receiving Threat

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    Junior running back Onterio McCalebb was expected to play a big role in the offense this year, but few expected for him to become the team’s leading receiver.

    McCalebb, who accounted for the only touchdown against LSU, leads all SEC running backs with 22 receptions for 239 yards. McCalebb has caught a pass in 11 straight games.

    The speedy McCalebb has also accounted for 387 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Houston Nutt Under Fire

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    When it comes to coaching hot seats, few are hotter than Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt’s. Nutt’s tenure at Ole Miss started well with the talented players brought in under Ed Orgeron, but the program has taken a nosedive over the past few years.

    The Rebels have lost 10 straight in the SEC and have yet to beat a team from a BCS conference in 2011.

    No coach at Ole Miss had lost more than eight straight SEC games prior to this season.

    Barring a miraculous turnaround, it seems that Ole Miss will have a coaching vacancy for the 2012 season. Read here for some possible replacements.

Jeff Scott Could Stand Tall Against Auburn

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    Jeff Scott, listed at 5'7'', may be one of the shortest players in the FBS, but he will play a big role in Saturday’s game.

    The sophomore running back is the leading rusher for Ole Miss, but he’s also a threat in the passing game and on punt returns. Scott took a punt back for a 67-yard touchdown earlier this season.

    If the Tigers can limit Scott, they should be able to shut down Ole Miss. The Rebels have topped 30 points only once this season against FBS competition.

Young Skill Players Emerging for Rebels

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    The Ole Miss offense hasn’t shown much this season but started to show signs of life against Arkansas with 24 points. A pair of freshmen, quarterback Randall Mackey and wide receiver Donte Moncrief, hooked up for two touchdown passes.

    Mackey is still going to take his lumps as a freshman, but he is starting to emerge as a solid quarterback after taking over as the starter. Moncrief is developing into a big-play threat with 18.7 yards per catch and four touchdowns.

    “They’ve got a lot of speed, they’ve got a lot of athleticism,” Chizik said about Ole Miss. “We’re going to have to play well on both sides of the ball.”

Prediction: Auburn 41, Ole Miss 14

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    The Rebels have only played in one similar environment to Jordan-Hare this season, and that resulted in a 52-7 loss at Alabama. Although the Tigers don’t seem to be on the level of the Crimson Tide, they are too talented to lose at home to this Ole Miss team.

    A loss to Ole Miss would be a huge disappointment for Auburn and endanger their chances of a winning season with tough games against Georgia and Alabama still on the slate.