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Ole Miss for Brunch

By on October 5th, 2017 in Football 14 Comments »

The Tiger defense needs to set its alarm clock for this aerial attack!
(Photo by Acid Reign)

     War Eagle, everybody! We are rapidly approaching the midpoint of the 2017 SEC season. This week, Auburn hosts Ole Miss in the dreaded 11:00 AM time slot. This typically results in subdued morning tailgating and a lethargic crowd. Auburn football has a reputation for mailing in these early games, earned during the Tuberville years.

     Is the “early game” curse valid under current head coach Gus Malzahn? In 2013, Auburn only played once early at Tennessee. Thanks to cranked up special teams, Auburn handed Tennessee a blistering 55–23 loss. Auburn did not play before noon in 2014.

     In 2015, Auburn was not very good and got shoved to 11:00 AM pretty frequently. Jacksonville State was an early kickoff, and it took some pretty severe late-game blunders by the visiting Gamecocks for Auburn sneak out with an overtime win. Also in 2015, Auburn was at Arkansas for an early kickoff and spotted the Razorbacks an early 2-touchdown lead before roaring back to force overtime. Auburn lost in 4 overtimes and lost a healthy Sean White. Ole Miss came to Auburn for an 11 o’clock kickoff the following week, and Auburn lost, 19–27. Finally, the Birmingham Bowl was an early Wednesday kickoff, and Auburn bounced Memphis by the score of 31–10.

     In 2016, Auburn had its first road game of the year at 11:00 AM in Starkville. No early morning curse there as Auburn catapulted out to a 35–0 halftime lead en route to a 38–14 win. Auburn hosted Vanderbilt early and trailed at halftime but rallied in the second half and hung on for a 23–16 win.

     My conclusion is that the curse is no more. If Auburn is playing decently, these early matchups are no problem. If not (see 2015), there are problems whether it is an early kick or not. Auburn’s struggles against Vanderbilt last season had more to do with a painfully conservative offensive game plan than any morning hangover.

     My guess this week is that Ole Miss might make a game out of it with a really dangerous receiving corps. Auburn will have to pin their ears back up front and harass young Rebel quarterback Shea Patterson into some mistakes. The Auburn secondary had a great game last weekend against Mississippi State and will need a good showing this week again.

     The Ole Miss defense to date has been surprisingly porous, giving up 430 yards per game and 35.8 points per game. In the two games Ole Miss won, against South Alabama and Tennessee Martin, they had to outscore the opposition in the second half, eventually winning by scores of 47–27 and 45–23. There were no second half explosions the last couple of games. Ole Miss failed to score in the second half in Berkeley, California, losing to Cal 27–16. Last weekend was an absolute disaster of a game in Tuscaloosa with Ole Miss getting destroyed, 66–3.

Coaches on the Hot Seat, after the jump!

     Back before the season started, I did some speculation on which coaches were on the hot seat. With midseason now approaching, it’s time to revisit that theme. I did not have second year Missouri coach Barry Odom on my list, but I think the situation there now bears watching. It’s one thing to lose games in a coach’s second season in the SEC. For a team to look as terrible and unorganized as Mizzou has the past few weeks is another thing entirely.

     I mentioned Mark Stoops, opining that the Cats were lucky to win 7 games last season and would not be so lucky this year. I have to take some of that back, now. Kentucky looks like a legitimately tough team and will be difficult for most of their remaining schedule to handle.

     I also believed that Georgia folks would not put up with back-to-back 7-win seasons from Kirby Smart, either. Looks like little danger of that this year. Georgia has rolled out to a 5–0 start and looks to be the best team in the East, easily.

     I did a quick Google search on “Tennessee football,” and the whole first page was filled with links about “who should replace Butch Jones.” Volunteer fans are quite upset with Tennessee’s 0–2 SEC start this season, especially after the 41–0 face plant against Georgia last weekend. The Vols now have South Carolina, then travel to Alabama and Kentucky. Three more losses are certainly possible, if not probable. And with the new early signing period legislation in place this year, cutting a coach loose at midseason makes a bit more sense.

     We figured Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin was a dead man walking after the Aggies blew a 44–10 lead against UCLA and lost. The Aggies have not lost since. While the wins haven’t been pretty, they count just the same. The Aggies are 2–0 in the SEC, but that record won’t remain unblemished much longer as the Aggies host Alabama this weekend. Texas A&M then road trips to Florida and hosts Mississippi State and Auburn. I would say that Sumlin needs to win at least 2 of the next 4 games to survive.

     Arkansas’ Bret Bielema is another one I whose seat I figured would be getting warm this year. The Razorbacks handled a couple of nonconference cupcakes but lost ugly to TCU and lost in overtime to Texas A&M. There is potential for Arkansas to get to 7 wins with South Carolina, at Alabama, Auburn, at Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina, at LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri still on the schedule. Frankly, as porous on the offensive line as Arkansas has looked, I’m not sure I see 5 wins in that list. I see 3 at best, and Arkansas fans aren’t happy with finishing 7–5 every year. A 5–7 finish would likely doom Bielema.

     Stunningly, LSU coach Ed Orgeron’s name is out there on some hot-seat lists. I can’t believe that the LSU brass would even consider letting him go in year one. Heck, Nick Saban lost to UAB in year one in Baton Rouge. In a cash-strapped state, I can’t imagine the school paying a 12 million dollar buyout that early.

     Finally, we have the Ole Miss situation. I had Hugh Freeze on the list, and he did not even make it to the first game of the season. Ole Miss is currently led by interim coach Matt Luke, but I think Ole Miss will look elsewhere for its next permanent head coach. I think Luke’s chances of retaining the job went up in the flames of a hideous 66–3 loss at Alabama.

     Auburn’s Gus Malzahn has hovered on or near a lot of folks’ hot-seat lists since a disappointing 7–6 season in 2015. Since then, Auburn has looked clueless at times and brilliant at times. Right now, Auburn is destroying opponents handily and looks to have a pretty clear path to roll through without a conference loss until “Amen Corner.” What has happened the last couple of seasons is that the quarterback gets injured and things fall apart. Auburn is one bad hit from starting a true freshman and being right back in that boat. If Jarrett Stidham stays healthy, Auburn will be in the SEC title race till the end of November, and the hot seat talk will be a distant memory.

     We’ll have our usual Track’ open thread up and ready to go early, this week. As always, feel free to join in the fun. I’ll be at the keyboard with my coffee, ready for another play-by-play. War Eagle, and let’s mangle those Rebs!


  1. wdwehrs says:

    Good read. I expect Auburn to make mince meat out of Ole Miss. I think Brett Bielema is an interesting case because he has a huge buyout at 15.7 million dollars. That is a lot of cash for a school like Arkansas to hand out. Just a quick correction, Alabama lost to ULM in 2007, not UAB.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Nick Saban’s first year in Baton Rouge was 2000, and LSU lost to UAB that year. It really happened! Watson Brown is one of the few coaches that has beaten Nick Saban in the SEC…

      • wdwehrs says:

        I misread what you said. I thought you were referring to Nick Saban’s first year at Alabama. My apologies! Always enjoy your work.

  2. auhousefly auhousefly says:

    I believe he was referring to when Saban was at LSU and lost to UAB.

  3. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    I’ve been to Death Valley (the real one) five times (and about to be six) and, I can tell you, there is simply “something” about this place that seems to inject fear into the players as they enter that field. I had a family issue, with which I had to deal, for the 1999 game so, not once, have I seen “our” Tigers win a game in that place.
    Here is hoping for a MUCH better outcome in 2017.
    I’ve seen buses rocked, I’ve seen rocks, bottles, launched… Over and over again…
    And, Karma kicking me in the buttocks, a lot of these games were when? You got it… Night time games… If we have to have a game kicking off at 11:00 AM, why could it not be this one? Oh, wait, is even that a good thing?

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..I’ve been once, in 1980 with the Auburn Band. We HAD that game, and play-calling blew it. Auburn marched it down the field late, trailing 21-17. We were running Doug Barfield’s patented Houston veer offense, and the triple option with George Peoples up the gut, Charles Thomas on the keeper, and the pitch to James Brooks had worn LSU down.

      …..Auburn marched it on the ground to the LSU 11 yard line, ripping off 5-10 yards every carry. With about 45 seconds left, Auburn had first down, and still had all three timeouts. Then, Thomas tossed 4 straight incomplete passes. I still would like to ask Barfield why he didn’t run the d__m ball!

  4. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Ole Miss does not run the ball well. Our DBs should get plenty of opportunities for interceptions tomorrow. I look for Ole Miss to throw 50 passes.

  5. tigrrr tigrrr says:

    I just completed the design of my “Fick Nuck” tee shirt. Anybody want one, $15.

  6. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    Just saw that Justin Fields committed to Georgia. Thought he was supposed to be an Auburn lock! Maybe kids are getting leery of the poor Gus coaching. If I was a hotshot QB or running back, not sure I would want to put my future in the hands of Auburn’s current coaching staff.

    • AUNation AUNation says:

      I don’t think I saw where any recruiting service had him as an AU lock. He started off committed to Penn St. then was considered a heavy FSU / UGA lean. Not surprised AU ended up as a distant third, but honestly with Gatewood solid as can be and hopefully Bo Nix coming in the next class we are in good shape. Just hate we will be playing against him, because the kid is a serious talent.

      • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

        The Gatewood commit – and sticking with it – sealed the deal for Fields as it relates to AU. Although, he will still be behind Fromm and Eason at UGA.

  7. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I really try not to get too excited/depressed by recruiting. I really started following it more heavily about 8-9 years ago, and did not like the drama. The big deal back in late 2009/early 2010 was the possibility of Auburn being able to pick up both Michael Dyer and Marcus Lattimore. Auburn did land one of the two.

    …..Both had their moments, but ultimately Dyer washed out, and Lattimore had numerous injuries. Neither was a factor in the NFL draft, in the end.

    • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

      I have followed recruiting fairly well overall but especially the past couple of years while handling the National Signing Day open thread. But I don’t get depressed at all and rarely get overly excited.
      Like most on here, I’ve seen 2 and 3 stars develop and outperform 4 and 5 stars in FBS overall.
      And, yeah Acid, both Dyer and Lattimore had their moments but couldn’t keep it all together. My gosh, Dyer was MVP of the BCS NCG. Really a shame, actually.

    • wpleagle wpleagle says:

      Dyer seemed to be a classic case of a guy with great skills but lacking in character. I recall him getting in trouble both with the coaches and the law.