Postgame Points : Ole Miss 27, Auburn 19
The opening postgame point this week is that Ole Miss claimed a nice road victory over Auburn to stay in the race for the SEC West title heading into November. With a 27-19 win over the Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Rebels improve to 7-2 on the year and 2-2 in road games. At 4-1 in SEC play, Ole Miss remains a game behind LSU for first place in the West Division.
Ole Miss has positioned itself well to have a shot at winning the division and playing for the SEC championship with 3 games left in the regular season. If the Rebels claim victory over Arkansas, LSU, and Mississippi State in November, they will play for the SEC crown in Atlanta on the first weekend of December.
At his press conference on Monday, Coach Hugh Freeze made reference to the fact that his program is competitive and relevant in the SEC, a goal he set out to achieve upon becoming head coach 4 years ago. Rebel fans should be thrilled that this team is in the mix to win the SEC title heading into the homestretch. It is an exciting time in Oxford knowing that Ole Miss is playing games that matter in November!
2. Third-Down DefenseFor the second consecutive game, Ole Miss showed improvement in its third-down defense. The Rebels allowed the Auburn offense to convert just twice on 15 third-down attempts. To hold a SEC opponent to thirteen percent on third-down conversions is an outstanding accomplishment. Further, the Rebels stopped the Tigers both times on fourth-down conversion attempts in the game.
It cannot be stated enough how important it is to get stops on third-down. The Rebel defense has to be able to get off the field to get some rest and to limit the amount of snaps they have to defend in a game. As well, playing great third-down defense allows the high-powered Ole Miss offense to be on the field more, to control time of possession, to get into a rhythm, and simply to get more scoring opportunities.
Against Auburn, the stout third-down defense played by the Landsharks made a huge difference in a tight game, especially in the second half. Ole Miss possessed the ball for 7 minutes more than Auburn in the game. In the critical second half, the Rebels had possession of the ball for 3 more minutes than the Tigers. Ole Miss ran 91 offensive plays to just 73 for Auburn. As a result, Ole Miss outscored Auburn 17-9 in the decisive final half. As the game wore on, the Rebels had fresher legs on defense and more chances to put points on the board on offense.
3. Passing Game
As has been the case most of the season, Ole Miss was able to find great success in the passing game against Auburn. Chad Kelly and his arsenal of perimeter weapons gave the Tigers trouble all afternoon. Kelly was able to connect on 33 of his 51 pass attempts for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nine different Rebels had at least 1 reception against Auburn.
Laquon Treadwell had another spectacular performance Saturday on the Plains. Treadwell hauled in 7 receptions for 114 yards and 1 score. His touchdown grab with just over 10 minutes to play was a highlight-reel catch that extended the Rebels lead to its final margin of 8 points. Treadwell had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown for the fourth straight game. Also, it is the fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season for Treadwell, which ties the single-season school record. If that were not enough, Treadwell became the seventh Rebel to reach the 2,000 career receiving yards mark. With 2,110 yards in his 3 seasons wearing the red and blue, Treadwell now ranks fifth in school history.
Damore’ea Stringfellow topped all Rebel receivers with 8 receptions in the Auburn game, good for 71 yards. Derrick Jones made his lone catch of the day count, taking his 45-yard reception to the endzone for a third-quarter score that put the Rebels ahead for good. Evan Engram hauled in 4 catches for 36 yards from his tight end position, while Markell Pack, Quincy Adeboyejo, Jaylen Walton, and Akeem Judd each recorded 3 catches on the day.
4. Special Teams
Ole Miss received great contributions from the special teams unit on the Plains. Will Gleeson pinned Auburn inside the 20-yard line on 2 of his 4 punts in the game, while Gary Wunderlich did the same on his only punt attempt. Wunderlich converted all 3 of his PAT attempts, and he was perfect on a pair of field goal tries from 27 and 37 yards, respectively.
5. Defensive Playmakers
Ole Miss had a lot of defensive playmakers in the win over Auburn on the Plains. Trae Elston was the leading tackler with 7 stops, and he broke up 2 passes and had 1 tackle for loss.
Robert Nkemdiche was responsible for 4 tackles, 1 pass break-up, and 2 quarterback hurries in his return to action since suffering a concussion in the Memphis game.
Feature image credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk