No. 18 Auburn just beat No. 10 Ole Miss for the sixth-straight year. Here are three takeaways from the 31–20 win.
#1: The return of the run
The first half on Saturday saw the Tigers rush for 117 yards, the bulk of those coming from sophomore running back Tank Bigsby. The LaGrange, Georgia native had 94 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and one reception for six yards through the first two quarters, finishing the game with a total of 140 yards on the ground. Quarterback Bo Nix had six carries for 15 yards and two scores in the first half as well, adding on an additional 15 yards in the second half.
The 211 yards on the ground were a significant improvement from the previous two weeks. Against Georgia and Arkansas, the Tigers ran the ball a combined 64 times for 181 yards, averaging 2.8 yards per carry in those games. Sometimes playing against a bad defense helps get your mojo back, as Auburn averaged 4.5 yards per carry tonight.
#2: Receivers impress once again
For now the second week in a row the Auburn receivers had a good showing, with the only drops on the night being from running backs coming out of the backfield. Kobe Hudson did have a fumble in the fourth quarter, but played well otherwise, leading the team in receptions and yards. The receivers, who struggled heavily to start the year, had success in getting separation and catching contested catches. Thanks to this, Nix had an easier time trusting his receivers to make plays on catch-and-runs.
As the Tigers continue down the stretch, receivers will have to keep up this type of play if Auburn hopes to win out. If they begin to revert back to their old form, the Tigers can kiss their SEC Championship dreams goodbye.
#3: Linebackers play lights-out
Man oh man, was it good to see linebacker Owen Pappoe back out there. Players and fans alike rallied around the junior team captain in his return, elevating the play of the Auburn linebackers and being greeted by a tremendous roar of cheers during the pregame lineup announcement.
The defense held a high-powered Ole Miss offense to only three points in the second half, and made three fourth-down stops.
Pappoe finished with five tackles, Zakoby McClain had 14 tackles – including 10 solo – and two sacks and Chandler Wooten had five in the win. With Pappoe’s return, the Tigers once again have one of the best linebacker corps in the country.