Aggies up next for Ole Miss: What the Rebels can learn from A&M’s win over Auburn
OXFORD, Miss. — Another Ole Miss off week. That is the way it goes in 2020 with COVID-19 and rescheduling games. The original opponent for the Rebels this week was LSU, and the Tigers are probably not happy about the change in schedule either.
Instead of welcoming Ole Miss to Tiger Stadium, LSU gets top-ranked Alabama tonight. The Rebels should make their way to Baton Rouge Dec. 19.
Next week, the Rebs are slated to travel to College Station to take on Texas A&M.
Currently, head coach Lane Kiffin’s team is in the midst of a suspension of activities until at least December 9due to a recent increase in the number of COVID-19 test results. If Ole Miss is able to travel to Aggieland, the Rebels will do so with only a day or two of practice under their belt.
The Aggies did play Saturday, so here is what we learned after their 31-20 win at Auburn:
What we learned from the Auburn game: Texas A&M has played what can only be described as uninspired football the past two weeks. Despite being ranked fifth nationally and needing to win out to even have a shot at the college football playoff, the Aggies are playing like a Citrus Bowl invitation is the goal.
Texas A&M had more talent than Auburn and much more than LSU, a team the Tigers had a lackluster win over last week. If A&M does make the playoffs with efforts like they have shown the last two weeks, it could have an early exit.
What to look out for: A rather good offense from the Aggies. Texas A&M has a more balanced offense than it has been credited. Quarterback Kellen Mond has been criticized this season for not being a “complete” player. Saturday, he did what needed to be done. He was 18-of-23 for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Isaiah Spiller ran for 120 of the Aggies’ 313 yards on the ground. Auburn does have a stout defense, so the Landsharks need to be on top of their game.
Kellen Mond with a dart to Jalen Wydermyer — this is one of the best QB-TE combinations in the country pic.twitter.com/xjVIAKLs5i
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) December 5, 2020
What can be exploited: Texas A&M’s bend, bend and bend again, but don’t break defense. Auburn only totaled 340 total yards, but many of them came at crucial times. The defense’s tackling was undisciplined, letting Auburn runners who should have been dropped for losses instead gain yardage. The Tigers left more than a few points on the field.
Smooth run by Tank Bigsby and Auburn has A&M on upset alert pic.twitter.com/ILPro4OSrH
— Second String Sports (@SecondStringSp1) December 5, 2020
Which Rebels could have a big day: Matt Corral. With legs as well as his arm. Auburn quarterback Bo Nix ran for 49 yards and two touchdowns, one of them on a scoring run after he was trapped by numerous Aggies behind the line of scrimmage. Corral is a much better runner than Nix. Should the layoff prove to have the Ole Miss passing game rusty, Corral could scramble for a ton of yardage.
Who to look out for in the maroon jerseys: Tight end Jalen Wydermyer. If Kyle Pitts from Florida is considered the best tight end in the conference, Wydermyer and Ole Miss’ Kenny Yeboah are right there with him. Against Auburn, Wydermyer grabbed eight passes for 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Texas A&M has been without its top two wide receivers for most if not all season, yet Wydermyer still finds a way to get open, catch the ball and make defenses pay.
Trends: Texas A&M is now 7-1 and has won its last six games. The Rebels have won their last three and were gaining confidence before another sudden open date this week.
What we can look for: The Aggies need another win with some style points to try and convince the College Football Playoff Committee it belongs in the final four. Ole Miss is looking to complete its goal to be the hottest college football team at the end of the season. The question will be which defense can step up the most. If Texas A&M can put up a lot of points against the Rebels, it will make the Aggies more attractive to the committee. But if the Aggies cannot slow down the Ole Miss offense, they might be on the outside looking in regarding the playoffs.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.