During the 2019 football season, The Villager will run comments from a focus group on results of the previous Auburn University game and a prognostication for the upcoming game. We’ve collectively labeled the group, Panel of Wanna-Be Experts, or POWE! for short.
Here are the panel's comments for the Tigers' home matchup against Ole Miss on Saturday:
With an off week prior to playing Auburn, the big issue at Ole Miss last week was the petition to remove Tony the Landshark as its mascot, saying that it made a mockery of Ole Miss. Apparently, Tony appeared on the sidelines of the A&M game wearing an adult diaper, further offending Ole Miss fans who had never loved the Landshark anyway. I would venture to say that being 3-5 at this point in the season with losses to Memphis, California, Alabama, Missouri, and Texas A&M might be a bigger issue than the ridiculous looking Landshark. But I digress.
Ole Miss has not been an SEC contender in quite a while. In fact, it’s been 56 years since it won its last (of six) SEC title after being national champions in 1959,1960, and 1962. A dozen years ago, Ed Orgeron was 0-6 in SEC play in his final year as the Rebels’ head coach and their last two coaches, Nutt and Freeze, resigned due to NCAA infractions. (As we Auburn fans painfully watched last Saturday, Orgeron has dramatically changed his status from “The Biggest Loser” to one whose LSU Tigers have gotten the better of Auburn for three consecutive seasons.)
As October began, Auburn was riding high with a 5-0 start. However, by the end of the month, after three consecutive SEC road games, we enter the last third of the season at 6-2 following losses to No. 6 Florida and now No.1 LSU where the weaknesses in our passing game were painfully exposed.
With Ole Miss coming to Jordan-Hare for the first of four November home games, our No. 11-ranked Tigers have the opportunity to end the season strong, but it definitely won’t be easy.
Step one will be handing Ole Miss its 4th SEC loss and giving Bo Nix and his receivers more repetitions before Georgia and Bama come to town. We should be able to cover the 18-point spread and regain our poise. We can’t afford a slip up like Tennessee handed us at home last fall. We still have the opportunity to have a season of which our players, coaches and fans can be proud but we must take care of the Rebels (aka Landsharks) first.
Of the three remaining SEC games on our schedule, Ole Miss should the easiest. Against A&M, Ole Miss tried a two quarterback system, using both Corral and Plumlee, but it didn’t seem to be too effective. Plumlee is only 36 yards shy of an Ole Miss record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Were it not for our spectacular defense against the run, I would predict that he would reach that mark on Saturday.
Despite the fact that Auburn has two losses, we still have a lot to play for. This team seems to have the motivation and chemistry to continue to work together. Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown didn’t return for their senior season here with any intentions of folding up the tent before the end of season. I will be surprised if we don’t have a solid game against the Rebels, defeating them by a score of 45-17.
Betty Burgess, retired English teacher, Auburn grad and lifelong Auburn fan
Bo Nix has suffered some painful growing lessons at two rowdy SEC venues, but he has four home games, including two against Auburn’s most bitter rivals, to validate his 5-star rating out of high school. And he can also affirm Coach Gus Malzahn’s decision to name him the starter in August and stick with him through some rough patches.
Because of Auburn’s SEC-best defense (in my view), both of those remaining rivalry games are winnable (maybe one more so than the other). They will define Nix’s first season, and possibly Malzahn’s future on the Plains.
Like Florida, LSU was a low point in Nix’s season, but he will have many opportunities to redeem himself down the road.
The Tigers, after a month on the road, close the season with four home dates, starting Saturday night with Ole Miss.
The Rebels will bring a 3-5 (2-3) record to Jordan-Hare Stadium, but they could easily be 4-4 except for a botched call by PAC-12 refs at the end of the Cal game in Oxford (#BadOfficiating) not exclusive to the SEC).
Ole Miss has played two quarterbacks, both freshmen, with mixed results. Matt Corral, the passer, has gotten six starts, passing for 1,101 yards and four touchdowns. John Rhys Pumlee, the runner, is the second leading rusher on the team with 508 yards — just behind running back Scottie Phillips (538 yards).
The Colonel Reb/ Black Bear/Land Shark) defense, which returned eight starters, is giving up an average of 26 points and 409 yards per game. It is more vulnerable through the air than on the ground.
Statistics aside, this will be a night game at Jordan-Hare with the crowd anxious to see the Tigers after a month’s absence.
If Boobee Whitlow returns full strength along with exciting true freshman D.J. Williams, Auburn should shred Ole Miss’ rush defense average of 124 yards.
And expect Nix to get back on track, passing and running before the friendly crowd.
There won’t be an LSU hangover, and it all adds up to a big win for Auburn as the Tigers move to 7-2 (4-2).
Make it: Auburn 41, Ole Miss 13.
Bob Lowry, retired political reporter for United Press International, and three daily newspapers
As we left Tiger Stadium Saturday evening, I wondered if I would live long enough to see our Tigers win in Death Valley. LSU fans were a lot nicer than they used to be. I guess because they knew they were going to win. They want to beat Bama as bad as we do. I don’t think LSU will beat Bama even with Jones as QB, especially at Tuscaloosa.
This was another game we let get away. Our defense played an outstanding game. We held the No. 2 team in the nation to less than half the points they normally score.
We could not put any offense together. We couldn’t run the ball consistently or pass consistently. I think the play calling was OK, just could not execute. Some inexperienced QBs just cannot handle the pressure in a hostile environment, others can.
I thought we might see Gatewood in second half, but we didn’t. Our coaches see these QBs at practice and they know who are capable of managing the game or leading the team. Even as the bad as we played on offense we could have won the game. Our defense kept us in game.
There were two critical situations in the game where if we do the right thing we win. One was before the end of first half, after our return. If Nix doesn’t throw an interception, we get a field goal and go in at halftime with three point lead. The second critical time in second half was when Williams runs the ball to 9 yard line and sets up 1st and goal. We needed a TD instead of settling for a field goal.
We have a great defense and a great defensive coordinator. Before Kevin Steele, LSU would have scored 50 points on us Saturday. I feel sorry for our defense. They will be forgotten in the future because of our record. With a good QB, we could have been undefeated at this point. Most of our preseason goals have been shot, but we can still play spoiler against UGA and Bama, and go to a New Year’s day Bowl.
On to our next four games at home, starting with Ole Miss. We can’t overlook the Rebels. They are coming off an open date and will be arriving at Auburn in hopes of an upset. Ole Miss has a record of 3-5 and has a goal of making it to a bowl. Coach Matt Luke has a lot of pressure on him to win. He went out during the offseason and hired two former head coaches as coordinators. They will score points even against our great defense. We will need to be concerned about our offense. We have to score.
It will be good for us to get back home for the rest of the season. This was a brutal October with all the away games. I think our offense will play much better at home. In a blow out: Auburn 55, Ole Miss 21.
Wendell McLain, Auburn retired brigadier general, Alabama National Guard
I predicted a major upset for the LSU game , with AU winning 28 to 24. If AU could have scored again in the 4th quarter, we would have won 28-23. Only problem was our offense wasn’t running on all cylinders. The defense played well enough for us to win the game.
Which brings me to this week’s game. Ole Miss is not a powerhouse. But the can beat us if we don’t improve. They lost to Bama but scored 31 points on Bama’s defense. They lost to Missouri 38-27 and Texas A&M 24-17. But they are scoring points. I believe they will score 21 or fewer points on us.
The big question is which one of our offenses will show up, the one that beat Oregon, Texas A&M and Arkansas.
Our defense is getting better and better each week. We probably have more defensive All-Americans and SEC picks than any other defense in the SEC.
But our offense has to improve each week. I’ve written several weeks about us having our fastest people on the field at the same time. They finally have started doing that more and it has made a noticeable impact. And I don’t think Ole Miss will have nearly the depth that LSU had. We should put our fastest men out on the field and run a rapid, hurry up offense. If we do , we beat Ole Miss 31 to 17.
James Sprayberry, local attorney and longtime Auburn season ticket holder
It has been a month since the Auburn Tigers have played a game in the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium. They have had to be road-warriors the entire month of October, but that ends this week as they welcome in the Ole Miss Rebels.
I want to talk about Auburn’s defense first because they deserve top billing. To no one’s surprise, they showed up and showed out yet again down in Baton Rouge. However, also again, the offense could not take advantage of their outstanding performance. Like the Tigers’ first eight opponents, Ole Miss will find yards and points tough to come by Saturday. Statistically, they are better at moving the ball than Auburn, but they struggle to turn yards into points.
Malzahn-led Auburn offenses have a history of struggling against teams with winning records and a tendency to explode against lesser teams. In 2019 alone, Auburn is averaging only 22.4 points per game against teams with winning records while averaging 46.5 against teams below .500. Johnny Reb comes into the game with three wins against five losses, which means, of course, that the offense should look pretty good and put up some points.
The Ole Miss defense gives up a lot of yards through the air and surrenders 27 points per contest (that’s really bad). This should be a game to get Bo Nix some confidence heading into a bye week and preparing for Amen Corner. Ole Miss is a running team and stopping the run is what Auburn does best. All of that adds up to a big win.
Fun fact: A win Saturday makes Auburn 8-2 versus the boys from Oxford this decade. Auburn is also 8-2 versus the Rebels in each of the two preceding decades. Auburn is never threatened as they cruise to a 38-16 victory.
Brandon Hughes, Lee County
This past weekend down amongst the bayou dwellers went almost exactly as predicted.
I heard the Cajun tailgate dishes were outstanding and plentiful accompanied by copious quantities of beverages in a sea of rabid gold-and-purple clad tiger faithful with a good number of folks sporting orange and blue.
As we witnessed, it was a close game. The only part that didn’t go according to prediction was the point totals. Our guys gave them all they wanted and the ‘Shu folks sure looked worried throughout the entire game.
Well, this week will be different as far as who gets a “W” and who gets an “L.” The Ole Miss rebel, black bear, Admiral Ackbar, Land Shark folks are coming to town for a visit on Donahue Drive. I imagine our DDC team will be glad to be back home to host the visitors from Lafayette County.
Coach Luke has his guys running more than throwing, which should be right up AU’s alley, what with our defense continuing to shut down opponent’s run games as good or better than anybody out there.
Ole Miss allows almost 300 yards a game passing, which could favor in helping our young QB get back on track. It sure would be great to see multiple receivers (read Hastings, Stove, Schwartz, Williams, et al.) getting catches and yards.
Another promising sight for the good guys was the performance by RB D.J. Williams. Keep watching this guy, he’s gonna be getting lots of chances to tote in the future and is a nice complement to RB J. Whitlow in the AU backfield.
We can expect a good effort on the visitor’s part initially since they’ve had a week off to prepare for us but as evidenced by an 18-point favor to the Tigers, I expect our guys to give us separation in the second half.
I don’t think you’ll hear “Hotty Toddy” with a great deal of enthusiasm come late Saturday night.
AU 38, Ole Miss 13.
Jay Jones, Lee County sheriff
A hapless Arkansas team was just what the doctor ordered for the Tigers after the Florida debacle. And so we have a hapless Ole Miss team coming into Jordan-Hare after the LSU game. This is a 6 p.m. kickoff, which is a lot better than the dreaded 11 a.m. kickoff or the 8 p.m. kickoff. Hard to imagine we haven’t had a home game in a month. Next year ESPN will have two additional times slots — a 9 a.m. kickoff sponsored by Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage and an 11 p.m. kickoff sponsored by No-Doz sleep aid.
Auburn’s defense continues to play lights out! Our offensive woes continue and hopefully the prescription is getting back into Jordan-Hare Stadium. Ole Miss will play hard and we will have to be on our toes, and I think being back home will keep the Tigers fired up. Hopefully, some new offensive playmakers will emerge and our tried and true playmakers might get the ball once or twice if they’re lucky.
I see Auburn handling this one easily before we get another much-needed off week to get ready for Georgia.
Auburn 39, Ole Miss 12.
Barry Mask, Auburn's first "Friend of Aubie," director of marketing for River Bank & Trust
Check back next week to see the panel's review of the Tigers performance against Ole Miss as Auburn heads into a bye week before facing rival Georgia at home.