Weary Tigers Return Home!
Auburn will play four straight games at home
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody! This week, the Auburn Tigers will host the Ole Miss Rebels at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game represents opportunities for both teams. Ole Miss currently stands at 3 wins and 5 losses and needs a win to keep its postseason hopes alive. The Rebels are at Auburn, then have New Mexico State and LSU at home before finishing at Mississippi State. Ole Miss needs to win 3 of its remaining 4 games to go bowling. Auburn currently has a 6–2 record and needs this win to avoid going to a lower-echelon bowl game.
Auburn’s remaining schedule is Ole Miss, Georgia, Samford and Alabama. Wins over Ole Miss and Samford would get Auburn into consideration for an Outback or Citrus sort of bowl game. Losing to Ole Miss would likely end any hope of a New Year’s Day bowl game.
When Auburn has the ball, it will go against an Ole Miss defense that has seen its moments this year but that has also struggled at times. Thanks to several years of NCAA probation, Ole Miss no longer has a roster full of future NFL defenders. I suppose what is most notable is that the defense is sound from a schematic point of view. Ole Miss is able to line up, know assignments, and play fundamental football. The past couple of years have seen a defense that could be put back on its heels and exploited. Auburn has the talent to move the ball on this unit, but the Tigers will have to earn it.
Like Auburn, Ole Miss wants to run the football. Ole Miss has had trouble throwing the ball down the field but is one of the best running teams in the SEC. In addition to the usual zone-read concepts most SEC teams use now, Ole Miss has a tricky array of draw and trap plays that it likes to run. A defense like Auburn’s that gets into the backfield quickly will have to take care not to overrun plays and watch for cutbacks.
The biggest question in this game will be the level of excitement and fire on each side. Auburn cannot afford a post-LSU letdown. Will the team come out with the fire and grit it has shown this season, or will we see a wounded team looking to get this one over with? Meanwhile, Ole Miss is rested after a bye week and will be looking to start strong on the road.
This will easily be the coolest game thus far this season for Auburn. A taste of winter has blown through the state here in recent days, and it should be clear and cold Saturday night in Auburn with temps falling into the 40’s during the game. There is no chance of rain, and those attending this game will be treated to a waxing crescent moon over the stadium. We will have our usual Trackemtigers.com Open Thread up and running for this one, and I will be at the keyboard, for the play by play. The game will kick off at 6:00 PM, Central Daylight Time, and will be televised on ESPN.
A look at other SEC games this weekend after the jump!
The early action this week at 11:00 AM begins with Texas San Antonio visiting Texas A&M. This should be a win for the Aggies, and they will become bowl-eligible with the win at 6–3.
The SEC game of the week on CBS is Florida and Georgia at 2:30 PM. The loser of this game is out of the playoff picture and likely out of the division race. For all practical purposes, the winner of the battle in Jacksonville will win the SEC East.
Mississippi State travels to Arkansas at 3:00 PM. A few weeks ago, this would have been an easy game to pencil in a win for the Bulldogs. Now, it is a battle for last place in the SEC West. Neither team is stopping opponents lately, and this could be a very high-scoring game.
Ole Miss at Auburn begins the evening action at 6:00 PM.
Also at 6:00, UAB visits Tennessee. Lots of folks locally are hoping UAB can pull the upset, but I think the Volunteers have been improving as the season has worn on. I think Tennessee wins at home.
Vanderbilt plays at South Carolina at 6:30 PM in the last SEC game of the day. Vanderbilt needs 4 wins in its last 5 games to go bowling. South Carolina has it almost as difficult, needing 3 wins in its last 4 games, with Texas A&M and Clemson still on the schedule. Both of these teams might be sitting home for the holidays this year.
Teams taking the weekend off are Missouri, Kentucky, LSU and Alabama.