Auburn, Ala. (EETV) - No. 12 Auburn welcomes SEC rival Ole Miss in their second SEC home game of the season.
The Tigers and the Rebels have a long history dating back to the 1920s, if you want to catch the latest chapter in this history you'll have to rise early for the 11 a.m. kickoff.
Ole Miss comes in with a 2-2 record, but I find them a highly underrated team.
Here are my 5 keys to defeating Ole Miss:
1) Pressure Shea Patterson
Ole Miss has always had a history with powerful quarterbacks. Patterson is just the latest Ole Miss quarterback product to sling the ball through the air.
Ole Miss leads the SEC and is 4th in the nation in passing yards per game, averaging over 300 yards per game. That is a ton of passing yards alone, considering most teams this season haven't gotten near 300 total offense yards against Auburn.
Passing YPG: #SEC— SEC Country (@SECcountry) October 3, 2017
Shea Patterson 362
Drew Lock 279
Jake Bentley 251
Jarrett Stidham 222
Kyle Shurmur 197
Austin Allen 191.5
Patterson is the lead player in this passing offense, also throwing for 11 touchdowns this season.
But have no fear, Patterson can be stopped. He has thrown for 6 interceptions this season, that's a little over 1 INT per game.
Now throw in Auburn's defense, and the Patterson aerial attack should be stopped.
In Ole Miss's week 4 game against Alabama, Patterson was contained to 165 passing yards, 2 interceptions and was sacked 5 times.
Basically, the Tide defense pressured Patterson into making mistakes and gave him little time to succeed.
What that means for Auburn is that, by being the number one defense in the SEC, the Tigers should be able to get pressure to Patterson early and often.
The Tiger defense has 14 sacks this season and averages almost 8 tackles for loss per game.
The fact alone that Patterson could not escape the pass rush of Alabama, gives me a reason to believe that the Tigers should be able to pressure Patterson into mistakes and limit this
the ball Kerryon
Kerryon Johnson has been a force for the Auburn offense in every game he has played in.
Since his return against Mizzou, Johnson has put on his jets and takes off down the field.
In the last two games, Johnson has 164 yards and 8 touchdowns. That is a lot of touchdowns in two games.
Kerryon, Johnson! pic.twitter.com/QdUj6qzO7B— Drunk Aubie (@DrunkAubie) September 30, 2017
Actually, Johnson also leads the SEC and is second in the country with 9 rushing touchdowns. That's just absurd.
Ole Miss is actually pretty terrible defending the run as well. They have given up an average of over 180 yards rushing per game this season.
In the Rebels week 4 loss to Alabama, they gave up a grand total of 365 yards rushing. That is a lot of yards, basically, if Alabama would play the Rebels every day of the year, Ole Miss would give up one yard a day.
With Ole Miss lacking the capability of stopping the run, Auburn can easily blow the Rebels defense up if they hand the ball off to Johnson.
I mean if I was Gus Malzahn and considering Johnson is averaging a touchdown about every 5 times he touches the ball, then I would use him often in order to put the Rebels away early.
3) Contain A.J. Brown
The Rebels number one passing offense wouldn't be possible without a wide receiver, and Patterson's go-to receiver is A.J. Brown, and he is a good target to have.
Brown leads the SEC in receiving yards per game, just under 100 yards per game. On top of that, he has 4 receiving touchdowns for the Rebels.
#SEC Talk— Patrick O'Brien (@POBSports) September 21, 2017
- Ole Miss has two WR leading the conference in receiving
AJ Brown (389 yards, 16 rec)
DaMarkus Lodge (284 yards, 15 rec)
Not only can Brown catch the ball, he can also run. He has scored a 71-yard and a 77-yard touchdown this season. Brown can stretch the field for the Rebels and is a deep threat almost every pass play.
Luckily Auburn's secondary is now looking very solid. The Tigers pass defense is 2nd in the SEC and is 5th in the nation. That's not too shabby and will be helpful in shutting down Brown.
The Tigers have been able to contain opponents to about 142 passing yards per game, and I think the Auburn secondary is up for the challenge of stopping Brown.
Stopping Brown will be a key in stopping the Rebel passing game, therefore, is a key in stopping Ole Miss on every drive.
4) Let Stidham throw the ball
Stidham has finally proved to be the star he was supposed to be
Just last week, Stidham finally found his confidence in throwing the deep ball, throwing 4 passes for over 40 yards.
"we knew he was a very talented quarterback when we recruited him," said Malzahn. "We knew he could throw it."
He has been able to hold onto the ball longer, go through his reads, and step up in the pocket and deliver a ball with impeccable accuracy.
Stidham actually leads the SEC in pass completion percentage at 72%.
Now, Ole Miss's pass defense seems to be better than their run defense, but they will have to key on the run if Johnson run's like he has been, which then will open up Stidham's pass game.
The Rebels lost 4 senior corners from 2016, and their youth at the position has shown all season, allowing 803 passing yards in 5 games.
Their youth showed even more last week against Alabama, allowing Jalen Hurts to throw for 197 yards and 2 TDs.
For Auburn to move the ball later in the game, they will have to let Stidham take over with an aerial attack.
If Stidham can throw for at least 200 yards, the Tigers should have a clear path to victory.
5) Use the home-field advantage
In week 5 against Mississippi State, the Auburn crowd played a key role
"I think we have the best home-field advantage in college football," said Malzahn. "They were loud and a big part of our success tonight."
In the last 3 games of the Ole Miss-Auburn series, the road team has been able to win.
The Tigers will need to take advantage of being able to play in Jordan-Hare Stadium this week if they want to beat the Rebels.
Grabbed a nice picture of the gorgeous sunset over Jordan-Hare Stadium earlier. pic.twitter.com/BtxCmJv6a9— Clint Richardson (@Clintau24) October 1, 2017
A key thing in keeping the crowd in the game is by forcing turnovers, something Auburn has done well all season.
The Auburn defense has been able to also score a lot off of turnovers, coming in as the 6th best scoring defense in the nation.
Ole Miss has also been unable to score off of turnovers all season, which if they continue to keep up this week, will keep the momentum in Auburn's favor.
If the Tigers want to have a clear path to victory, they have to take advantage of their home field and will have to keep their Tiger fans in the game.