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October 29, 2011

Pregame: Auburn vs. Ole Miss

Photo by Todd Van Emst

For the last Saturday in October, the weather is just about right for football at Jordan-Hare Stadium today. With Auburn and Ole Miss getting ready to kick off at 7 p.m. ET, the good folks over at the Weather Channel are reporting clear skies, 62 degrees at the moment, with the temperature dipping down to 56 at kickoff and into the low 50’s by the end of the game. So far it’s been a pretty windy day in Auburn, with winds blowing out of the northwest at more than 15 miles-per-hour, but those winds are supposed to die down as the sun drops and the lights descend on Jordan-Hare.

From today’s paper:

All week long, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has called Ole Miss “best 2-5 team in the country,” and Houston Nutt has made a career out of coming up with big wins in unlikely situations. From taking a look at the Ole Miss coverage leading up to the game, it’s called his “gotcha” game, and he could sure use one if he wants to keep his job on the heels of a 10-game SEC losing streak.
For more updates once the game gets going, follow the blog on Twitter, and after the way it worked last week, check back here at halftime for a live chat about the first half’s events.

QUICK SLANTS

  • The folks over in Las Vegas installed Auburn as a 10.5-point favorite early this week. Whatever you want to do with said information is up to you.
  • Auburn has won 12 straight games at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the longest streak in a decade. In night games, Auburn is 24-4 since the Y2K scare turned out to be absolutely nothing in Sunday.
  • All three losses for Auburn this season have come against top-10 teams. Ole Miss jumped out to a 17-0 lead on Arkansas before crashing back to earth in the third quarter of a 29-24 loss last week.
  • It goes without saying, but Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier could be a major factor in this game. As elusive as Ole Miss quarterback Randall Mackey is, he has been sacked eight times in the last two weeks against Alabama and Arkansas, and Lemonier could throw a huge wrench into the Rebels’ downfield passing game with a couple of big hits on the quarterback.
  • Ole Miss ranks 115th in the nation in rush defense, and Michael Dyer rolled up 180 yards against the Rebels last season. With a chance to find some running room, Dyer may break his streak of two straight games below the 100-yard mark.
  • Dyer almost never gets knocked backwards. In 341 carries, Dyer has only been brought down for  a loss 25 times.
  • Ever since quarterback Clint Moseley has taken over, tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen has been given a much longer look in the passing game. Lutzenkirchen has six catches in the last two games, tops on the team. And when he finds the end zone, it’s usually late. 7 of Lutzenkirchen’s 10 touchdowns have come in the fourth quarter.
  •  Seems like I use this stat every week, but it bears mention. In games decided by less than four points, Gene Chizik is 9-0 at Auburn. Chizik has also brought the Tigers back from 10-point deficits six times in three seasons.
  • Ole Miss wideout Donte Moncref is third in the nation among true freshmen with four touchdown catches.
  • Rebels punter Tyler Campbell is 18th in the nation with a 44.3-yard gross average, and he’s sixth in the country with 18 passes downed inside the 20. Auburn should be used to that, though, because Tigers punter Steven Clark is second in the nation with 25 punts inside the 20.
  • Against Alabama, Ole Miss failed to commit a single penalty.
  • Looking for an impact player from the Rebels’ defense? Defensive back Charles Sawyer has four interceptions this season, and he had a 96-yard pick-six against BYU. Another is sophomore linebacker Mike Marry, who is fourth in the SEC at 8.6 tackles-per-game.
Check back here for more updates as the teams come out to warm up.

Update, 6:01 p.m.: Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott, who left last week’s game with an injury, appears to be fine. Nutt said so earlier this week, but whatever injury Scott sustained, it doesn’t appear to be a problem.

Update, 6:04 p.m.: Same goes for Brandon Bolden. Rebels working with full complement of backs.

Update, 6:10 p.m.: Emory Blake is on the field with Auburn’s wideouts. Third straight week he’s warmed up. The question is, will he play?

Update, 6:18 p.m.: Carver graduate Gabe Wright will start in place of Kenneth Carter. A true freshman, Wright has played in all 8 games this season, but this will be his first start. Wright has three tackles, one tackle-for-loss this season in limited time. Last week, defensive line coach Mike Pelton said an injury early in camp had hampered Wright’s development, but he appears to be making strides.

Auburn’s back into the locker room. I’ll be back to the blog at halftime to chat.

Update, 6:32 p.m.: Emory Blake looked better in warmups this week. Until game time, all bets are off, but he may be ready to go.

 

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