By Parrish Alford | NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – There were college football observers who considered Auburn’s visit to No. 1-ranked LSU a “trap game.”
If so, it was Auburn for whom the trap snapped shut.
As Ole Miss gets back on the road after consecutive home games, Rebels coach Houston Nutt isn’t so sure that Auburn’s 45-10 loss at LSU makes it any more vulnerable this weekend.
Ole Miss (2-5, 0-4 SEC) will try to snap a 10-game SEC losing streak Saturday night at Auburn (5-3, 3-2).
From a 7-3 game near the end of the first quarter, LSU scored the next 38 points, 21 of those coming in the third quarter. Auburn crossed the goalline on a 2-yard run by Onterrio McCalebb with 2 minutes, 22 seconds to play.
“I have no idea about Auburn. I am more concerned about our guys playing at a high level for 60 minutes, not just 30 or 40, but every single play and series,” Nutt said.
The inability to play the third and fourth quarters as it has the first and second has proved costly for Ole Miss in a 52-7 loss to No. 2 Alabama and a 29-24 loss to then-No. 10 Arkansas. While the Alabama game got out of hand quickly after halftime, the Rebels held a 17-0 lead against the Razorbacks but were outscored 19-0 in the third quarter.
Ole Miss had 250 yards at halftime last week, just 120 in the second. Arkansas, meanwhile, had just 128 yards in the first half, 310 in the second half.
The theme for the week is “finish.”
“We just have to learn to finish. That’s our biggest thing. We have to learn to take the proper angles and believe in each other, believe that the next guy is going to make the ball cut back to you. We have to all do our jobs and flow to the ball,” middle linebacker Mike Marry said.
After a 4-1 start Auburn has lost two of its last three, a win against struggling Florida sandwiched between and 38-14 loss at Arkansas and the LSU game.
Auburn has had a mid-year quarterback change. The Tigers rank just No. 101 in the NCAA in passing offense but are fourth in the SEC in rushing at 183.25 yards a game. That could be problematic for an Ole Miss defense that has given up more than 200 yards rushing five times.
“They are defending national champions, and that is what has carried them in the close games,” Nutt said. “They were behind Utah State and won the game at the end. They have had close games and they finish them.
“I am not worried about their mindset, I am worried about our guys.”