The Opening Drive: Auburn vs. Ole Miss

AUBURN, Ala. – The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for Auburn. Coming off three straight SEC games, including two on the road, the Tigers had a chance to heal up and reset before a top-20 matchup against Ole Miss on Saturday.

The key, however, will be whether Auburn can still take the momentum gained from a 38-23 road win at Arkansas and carry it into Saturday’s contest. 

“I think it really is determined by your team and just their mentality,” Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin said. “We won a really good game against Arkansas, and I think there was a lot of energy coming off that game. Certainly, you feel the momentum as we came back and kind of put that game to bed and moved on to the bye week and got prepared for that. 

“But it’s about the mentality of your players. Are we still trying to get better through the bye week? Which I think we did. I don’t think we took the bye week for granted. I think we went out there and guys practiced hard from what I saw.”

It won’t be hard for Auburn to get up for Saturday’s game. There’s a top-10 opponent coming in. It’s a night game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The winner controls their own destiny in the SEC West. But all that matters to the players is that it’s the next game. 

“We’re taking every game one at a time and treating it like it’s championship week,” Auburn quarterback Bo Nix said. “This week is just the next game on our schedule, and so it’s our next opponent and we really want to go out there and play good football because any time you play well, it just gives you more and more confidence. 

“This is a big game for us to go out there and do that. We know the opponent we’re playing is really good – obviously in the top 10 – so it’s going to be a good challenge for us.” 

Auburn (5-2, 2-1) and Ole Miss (6-1, 3-1) will kick off at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday from Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN with Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge and Molly McGrath on the call. You can also listen to Andy Burcham, Stan White and Ronnie Brown who will have the radio call on 93.9 Tiger FM and online at AuburnTigers.com.

Fans are encouraged to wear orange to Saturday’s game.

Colby Wooden, Football: Auburn vs Georgia State
 

THREE QUESTIONS WITH … DL COLBY WOODEN

Q: What kind of went into the bye week for you as a player? What did you accomplish? 

A: Just knowing that we’re going to get a chance to get our bodies back right, especially for a physical game. Ole Miss is rolling right now, so we get a chance to get our feet back under us, get set, get some extra time with the fundamentals, so that we’ll be prepared for Ole Miss who is going to come in here and try to be explosive. We just have to get back into the groove of things this week at practice. Practice performance equals game reality as Coach Harsin says. 

Q: What has this year been like for you? You burst onto the scene last year and surprised a lot of people, and yet you continue to step up week in and week out.   

A: It’s been great. Last year learning from one of the best in Coach G (Rodney Garner) to now learning from one who has come from the NFL in Coach (Nick) Eason. It’s just great to pick their minds and learn different techniques, learn better fundamentals and learn how to play my position better. 

Q: It’s a night game Saturday, a top-10 team coming in, how much are you looking forward to the atmosphere at Jordan-Hare Stadium? 

A: We need Auburn fans to be there and be loud, which I know they will be. It’s just going to be a great atmosphere. There’s no place like playing in Jordan-Hare. It’s electric. The fans are going to be into it. We’ve just got to be ready to rock and roll. 
 

INSIDE THE SERIES: OLE MISS

Auburn leads the all-time series against Ole Miss, 34-11, and are winners of five straight, outscoring the Rebels 135-82 in those five games. Last year, Bo Nix connected with Seth Williams on a 58-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 to play to give the Tigers a 35-28 come-from-behind win at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. 

Though last year’s game came down to the wire, 11 of last 17 games in the series have been decided by double digits. Auburn is 9-2 in those games. Prior to the last 15 games, the previous five games were decided by eight points or fewer. 

Saturday’s matchup is one of three games on the slate featuring two ranked teams with Auburn at No. 18 and Ole Miss at No. 10. Ranked Auburn teams are 19-0 all-time against Ole Miss, and the Tigers won both previous ranked vs. ranked games in the series (1972 and 2014).

Series: Auburn, 34-11
At Auburn: Auburn, 16-3
At Georgia: Auburn, 13-3
At Neutral Sites: Tied, 5-5
First Meeting: 1928 (Ole Miss, 19-0)
Most AU points: 51 (2010)
Current Streak: Auburn, W5
 

BY THE NUMBERS

7: Auburn is ranked ninth nationally having allowed only seven sacks this season. The offensive line played a major role in the 38-23 win over Arkansas the last time out, not allowing a single sack. It was the fourth time this season the Tigers have not allowed a sack in a game. 

15: Auburn’s 38-23 win at Arkansas was its largest margin of victory over a ranked opponent
on the road (15) since knocking off No. 25 Texas A&M 26-10 in 2015. It was just the seventh time Auburn has defeated a ranked opponent by 15 or more points on the road and just the third time an unranked Auburn team has done so. 

11: Coming off a 15-tackle performance against Arkansas, senior Zakoby McClain now has 11 career double-figure tackles in his career. McClain currently leads the Tigers with 53 tackles on the season and is trying to become Auburn’s first player with 100-plus tackles in back-to-back seasons since Takeo Spikes did it in 1996 (119) and 1997 (136). 

248: Auburn’s 248 points are the 11th-most scored through the first seven games of a season in program history. The most was 290 points in 1995. This is the third season Auburn scored at least 60 points in each of its first two games, along with 1932 and 1922.
 

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