By Dylan Larck
In 2020, Auburn traveled to The Grove in what turned into a 35-28 win for the Tigers, which was not short of some controversial calls on both sides.
Lane Kiffin led Ole Miss to a 5-5 season in year one, and many expect a big jump from him and the Rebels.
In 2020, Ole Miss had one of the best offenses in college football led by quarterback Matt Corral. Corral was nearly unstoppable as a passer last year throwing for 3,337 yards and 29 touchdowns, which were both good for seventh in the nation. The only thing that stopped him was his decision-making. Corral had 14 interceptions last season and had two games where he threw five or more.
Running back Jerrion Ealy is one of the most versatile players in the nation and provides a strong running ability while also providing a check-down receiver for Corral. Last season, he rushed for 745 yards and nine touchdowns. Ealy is also paired well with Snoop Conner, who finished third on the team in rushing yards with 421 yards and eight touchdowns.
The receiver room took a huge blow over the offseason after their top-two receivers Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah left for the NFL Draft. Moore went on a tear last season, finishing the season with 86 catches, 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns. Yeboah offered a safety blanket for Corral at tight end, catching seven touchdowns. This receiving core returns three of its top-five receivers and Kiffin should have them in good hands.
Defense is where this team suffered last season as they ranked last in college football in total defense. This offseason, Ole Miss took a blow when their leading tackler Jacquez Jones transferred to Kentucky.
The Ole Miss defense gave up over 312 passing yards and 200 rushing yards per game last year. This defense only returns five starters from the previous season, and for them to compete in the SEC next year, they will need to be able to stop other teams from moving the ball.
MAKE OR BREAK FACTORS:
For Auburn to win against Ole Miss, it starts with how often this defense can get stops. Kiffin has a habit of having a high-tempo and high-powered offense and will score often if allowed too. Auburn will need to force Corral to make mistakes and will need to keep him contained. Every game last season that Corral didn’t thrown an interception Ole Miss won with the exception of the 63-48 loss to Alabama.
Offensively, Auburn should be able to move the ball well against Ole Miss, barring a huge improvement from last year. Auburn will just need to keep up with Ole Miss if the defense struggles.