First take: Ole Miss

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 29, 2013 

Who: No. 21 Ole Miss (3-1, 1-1 SEC; lost at No. 1 Alabama 25-0 on Saturday) at Auburn (3-1, 1-1; bye on Saturday)

When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451) | Auburn, Ala.


Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network (WVRK-102.9 FM in Columbus; WGZZ-94.3 FM in Auburn/Opelika)

All-time series: Auburn leads 27-10

When last they met: Like most of Auburn's other games last season, its loss to Ole Miss was one it would rather forget. The defeat was particularly painful for one reason: The 41-20 win for the Rebels helped them snap what had been a 16-game losing streak against Southeastern Conference opponents. The last time Ole Miss had beaten a fellow SEC squad came in October 2010, when it downed Kentucky 42-35 at home. And as it so often happens, the 21-point margin of victory for Ole Miss is deceiving; the contest was knotted at 20 at halftime, and the Tigers trailed 24-20 heading into the final period. But in a 1:36 span during the game’s last five minutes, Ole Miss scored two touchdowns to stretch its lead from 27-20 to 41-20.

Quick facts on Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze is 10-7 in two seasons at Ole Miss coming into Saturday. He became the sixth coach in Rebels' history to lead the team to a bowl in his debut season, finishing 7-6 overall. It was even more impressive given what he had inherited, as Ole Miss 2-10 in 2011 in the last season of Houston Nutt's tenure. ... Ole Miss was shut out for the first time since 1998 (versus Arkansas) on Saturday, as it lost to top-ranked Alabama 25-0 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, snapping a streak of 151 games with at least one score. ... The loss to the Crimson Tide extended the Rebels' futility against No. 1 teams. Ole Miss is 0-10 all-time when facing the country's top-ranked squad. ... Junior safety Cody Prewitt picked off his third pass of the year in Saturday's loss, which puts him among the nation’s leaders in interceptions. ... Serderius Bryant led the Rebels in tackles for the third straight game. The junior linebacker collected nine takedowns against Alabama, with seven of the tackles being solo efforts. ... The Rebels were outgained (434-205) for the first time this season in their loss to the Crimson Tide. ... This week's game versus Auburn will be Ole Miss' fourth road game of the year. After this Saturday, the Rebels will play six straight home games.

Which Tiger is primed for a big performance: Ole Miss had no trouble stopping the run in its first three games of the season, allowing just 114.3 per contest versus Vanderbilt, Southeast Missouri and Texas, respectively. Then it played Alabama. The Crimson Tide ran all over the Rebels to the tune of 254 yards and two touchdowns. Both of the scores came on long runs, as T.J. Yeldon galloped in from 68 yards out while Kenyan Drake took it in from the 50-yard line. That's good news for Auburn, which has a terrific trio in the backfield in juniors Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant. And the Tigers have shown they can tally yardage against quality opponents, racking up 213 yards on the ground against LSU in its last outing. With Alabama exposing some of Ole Miss' weaknesses versus the run, look for Gus Malzahn to use that to his advantage this Saturday.

Which Rebel could give the home team fits: Jeff Scott is one of the most dynamic players in the SEC. The senior running back averages a hair under 125 all-purpose yards per game, with the lion's share coming in the rushing department. Given the success opponents have had running the ball against the Tigers the past two games — Mississippi State's Dak Prescott tallied 133 yards and a pair of scores while LSU's Jeremy Hill ran for a career-high 184 yards and three touchdowns — Scott should expect to see plenty of touches in Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend.

Extra point: Last season saw Ole Miss field one of its best offensive squads ever. The Rebels scored the third-most points (409) and averaged the second-most yards per game (423.8) in school history.

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