Thursday, October 28, 2010
Ole Miss Preview
Not sure if this is the correct logo or not, but it's the logo I see when I think of Ole Miss.
However you want to slice it, when you're the number 1 team in the land and going on the road...look out. You're going to bring out the best effort, fanaticism, competitive spirit, emotion of whomever your opponent may be. It's well documented the last three number 1's have gone down on the road three consecutive weeks. Bama to Carolina, Ohio State to Wisconsin, Oklahoma to Missouri. The difference this week...Ole Miss is not a top 25 team like the others played.
Ole Miss does have enough talent to keep the game close if we just go through the motions. We cannot just roll our helmets out onto Vaught-Hemingway and expect the Rebel Black Bears (how ridiculous is that) to just roll over. This is their bowl game, their SportsCenter moment, Houston Nutt's instant hot seat coolant, Jeremiah Mosali's signature opportunity. Ole Miss is probably better than we give them credit. They're probably the second most improved team as the season has progressed behind our next road block, the Georgia Bulldogs. Sure they lost to Jax State and Vandy...they beat a decent Fresno State and Kentucky and hung tough against Alabama and Arkansas. No way should they beat Auburn, however, we have to be mentally prepared to fight a team with their backs against the wall, swinging for the fences.
I believe strongly this will be the most challenging week Coach Chizik has all season long to prepare this Auburn team for this game both emotionally and physically. If he can have this team ready to play and play mistake free, penalty free, emotionally charged, aggressive/attacking, fundamentally sound football, it would be an epic feat. It would be a National Coach of the Year type effort. It's easy to play at home against LSU and Arkansas. It's hard to go on the road to Oxford and not feel a little less energized. It will be highly interesting to see how we respond.
The best thing about this team to me has been their desire to succeed, their humbleness in victory, and their never say die attitude. They are hungry, they play with passion week in and week out, and they rally around one another when adversity strikes. It'll take all these attributes to come out of Oxford a winner.
Offensively, Ole Miss is allowing 32 points per game...we are averaging 39. The matchup on paper is heavily tilted in Auburn's favor. I surely expect Ole Miss to sell out to stop the run and make Auburn put the ball in the air. LSU was too arrogant to believe they had to change what they do defensively to stop Cam Newton and the Auburn rushing attack. The league will take note of the 440 rushing yards Auburn gashed LSU for and will say, "If you beat us through the air, hats off to you." If Auburn rushes for over 300 yards again...then this may be the greatest rushing football team of all-time.
Defensively, the young guys will get tested by a QB that is far superior to what they saw against LSU. Additionally, Houston Nutt will throw something at them they haven't seen all season. It'll be a matter of making in game adjustments, not letting Masoli go nuts with his legs, and making Ole Miss sustain drives.
The emotions will be high on the Ole Miss sideline early on. If Auburn gets off to a fast start, this one's over by the 3rd. If Auburn allows Ole Miss to believe and gives them reason to continue the fight...it'll be another slugfest. My hope is Auburn relishes their role as the BCS #1 team and goes out to prove a point.