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Stagnant start led to Auburn’s 48-34 loss to Ole Miss

The first quarter of the Ole Miss vs. Auburn game could not have gone much worse for the Tigers.

Auburn fans have become accustomed to seeing the Tigers struggle, but the first 15 minutes in Oxford were as bad a performance in recent memory.

The defense was unable to keep the Rebels from moving the ball, and the offense could muster only 23 yards while committing two turnovers.

Ole Miss scored early in the second quarter to jump out to a 21-0 lead and put the game seemingly out of reach.

The Rebels continued to score consistently throughout the contest and get the best of the Auburn defense.

On the other hand, Auburn’s offense did find rhythm for the first time in quite a while after shaking off an absolutely atrocious start.

Auburn fought hard and did get back to within one score of Ole Miss in the second half, but could never come up with enough stops to take the lead.

Ultimately, Auburn dropped its third SEC game of the season and Ole Miss stayed in position to compete for the Western Division title.

Take a look below at three things that led to Auburn’s road loss to Ole Miss.

Ole Miss Rushing attack

The single biggest difference in the matchup between Auburn and Ole Miss is that the Tigers could not come close to slowing down the Rebels’ running game.

Ole Miss rushed for 448 yards against Auburn, the most for the Rebels in a game since the 1979 season.

Auburn’s defense had no answers for the dynamic duo of Ole Miss running backs Zach Evans and Quinshon Judkins.

Both players rushed for more than 130 yards and a touchdown.

If that wasn’t enough, Rebels’ quarterback Jaxon Dart added 115 yards on the ground.

Auburn has leaned on its defense all season, and Saturday that unit was unable to bear the weight.

Turnovers

Auburn once again committed multiple turnovers. The Tigers have tried three quarterbacks on the season and in this game, but no one has been able to protect the ball consistently.

Robby Ashford threw an interception early and narrowly avoided a lost fumble as well. These plays led Auburn to give quarterback TJ Finley his first action in a few games.

Unfortunately, Finley promptly fumbled while being sacked on his first pass attempt on the drive.

To Ashford’s credit, Auburn brought him back into the game and he responded with much better play, leading Auburn to 34 points over the final three quarters.

The two critical turnovers early in the game took away Auburn opportunities to score and set up Ole Miss with good field position.

The Rebels were able to score touchdowns following both turnovers and jump out to a lead that they would not surrender.

Calculated Risk

Against Georgia, Auburn coach Bryan Harsin attempted a fake punt in the first quarter but failed to gain the first down.

That turnover on downs gave the Bulldogs a short field to work with and led directly to the first touchdown of that game.

Saturday, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin called for a surprise onside kick that caught Auburn completely off guard.

The Rebels executed the kick perfectly, stole a possession, and extended their lead back to double digits.

The well-timed, if not risky, call from Kiffin helped secure the win for the Rebels.

It is the kind of call that swings games and seasons when executed properly.

The successful Ole Miss onside kick keeps all of the Rebels’ hopes alive in 2022 and puts this Auburn coaching staff on the thinnest ice imaginable.

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers.

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