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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Final: Auburn 51, Ole Miss 31

An easy looking win for Auburn tonight, which looked like it answered some of its critics. Here's how tomorrow's game story starts:
OXFORD, Miss. — The Bowl Championship Series' No. 1 team certainly looked the part Saturday night.

Auburn showed no letdown in a 51-31 win at Ole Miss, six days after rising to the top spot in the BCS rankings for the first time in school history.

The Tigers (9-0, 6-0 SEC) avoided the top-ranked curse, doing what Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma couldn't in the last three weeks — win a conference road game with a No. 1 ranking next to their school's name.

"We plugged our ears to the media when it came to every week the No. 1 team has fallen short of a victory," quarterback Cam Newton said.

On a day when Michigan State and Missouri fell from the ranks of the unbeatens, Auburn had no such trouble, building an insurmountable lead to silence the 61,474 in attendance at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the fifth largest crowd in Ole Miss history.

Newton showed off his passing chops (and his potential as a 6-foot-6 receiver), the Tigers scored on a number of explosive plays and the defense did a serviceable job of containing Rebels quarterback Jeremiah Masoli in a runaway win that should silence some of Auburn's critics.

"I don't know what they're going to see when they watch us," head coach Gene Chizik said. "But we've got a good football team."
Let's go through the rest bullet style, shall we?
  • Auburn finished with 572 yards of offense and 51 points, the most it has ever scored against Ole Miss. "For us, that's not much of a shock," Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. "It probably is for the outside world."
  • It didn't do it in typical fashion. Ole Miss sold out to stop Newton from running the ball. He threw it at will instead. The Heisman Trophy candidate threw for 188 of his 209 yards in the first half. Newton completed a season-high 18 of 24 passes, spreading the ball around. Often forgotten receivers Darvin Adams, Emory Blake and Terrell Zachery combined for 16 catches, 189 yards and two touchdowns. "I think it is good, because I hear a lot of people say that we're a one-dimensional team and all we can do is run the ball," Blake said. "But we're aware we have talent on the perimeter and we know what our ability is."
  • Newton played a new role, too: receiver. He had a nifty 20-yard touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone on a ball thrown by Kodi Burns. How good of a receiver could the 6-foot-6 Newton be if he was a full-time receiver. "Really good," Malzahn deadpanned. "No doubt. Coach Troop is always like, 'He can come in my room' Naw. Naw."
  • Blake had a good take on Newton's catch too: "He's 6-6. He better come down with the ball."
  • Once Auburn established the pass, it put the game away with the run. The Tigers got 203 of their 343 yards in the second half, topping the 300-yard mark for the fifth straight SEC game. "You rush for the yards that we rush for in this league, your offensive line has to be doing some great things," Malzahn said.
  • Freshman tailback Mike Dyer continued to establish himself as the Tigers' go-to back, rushing 21 times for a career-high 180 yards and a touchdown. "Mike seemed to be the catalyst tonight," Chizik said. Dyer has 723 rushing yards this year, the third most for a freshman in Auburn history. Bo Jackson had 829 in 1982 and Travis Tidwell had 772 in 1946.
  • A big night for Demond Washington. First he came up with a momentum-shifting interception on the Auburn 2-yard line after the Tigers handed the Rebels great field position with a fumble. It was 17-14 Auburn at the time and halted Ole Miss completely. "It was huge," Chizik said. "There was no question about it. We knew they were going to throw the ball up to some of their taller receivers. They tried to get Demond matched up on a 6-foot-4 guy, and they threw the ball up.
  • Washington added to his night with a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown with 2½ left before halftime to make it 31-17. He broke Tristan Davis' 2006 single-season school record for kickoff return yardage in the process.
  • The Tigers took a 34-17 lead into halftime getting a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Demond Washington and a 35-yard field goal from Wes Byrum in the final 2½ minutes. "I couldn’t keep my feet," said Washington, who slipped on two returns that looked like they could have gone for big yardage. "It was there all night, but I couldn’t keep my feet. I kept telling coach, ‘Go back to it, go back to it.’ He said keep your feet this time, and I said I will."
  • Defensively, the Tigers allowed 31 points — the sixth time they have allowed 24 or more in a game this year — but that number is slightly misleading. Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott scored on an 83-yard run on the game's second play. And the Rebels scored on a long touchdown drive late in the game against Auburn's second- and third-stringers.
  • In between, the Tigers played some pretty good defense. Although they didn't have a sack, they generally corralled Masoli, who threw for 189 yards and a touchdown but was limited to 29 rushing yards on 14 carries. Auburn stepped up big in the third quarter, holding Ole Miss to zero yards on six plays right after halftime. The Tigers scored 10 points on those two possessions to put the game out of reach at 44-17.
  • I'm not sure what the status of TE Philip Lutzenkirchen is. He was in street clothes by the end of the game. Not sure exactly when he left.
  • Safety Zac Etheridge and running back Rodney Scott had a chance to meet at the post-game prayer circle, a nice capper to their story. Etheridge's family was there as well. "It’s been a tough week for me to really prepare for this game,” Etheridge said. “You start reflecting on a lot of stuff. But I overcame it, we’re 9-0, so I’m happy.”
  • Your offensive leaders (not previously mentioned):
  • RB Onterio McCalebb: 9 carries, 99 yards (68-yard TD run)
  • Newton: 11 carries, 45 yards
  • Adams: 6 catches, 75 yards, TD
  • Blake: 5 catches, 50 yards
  • Zachery: 5 catches, 54 yards, TD
  • Burns: 2 catches, 20 yards, 1-1 passing, 20 yards, TD
  • Third-down conversions: 9-for-13
  • Your defensive leaders:
  • CB Neiko Thorpe: 7 tackles
  • Washington: 6 cakles, 1 interception, 1 pass breakup
  • S Mike McNeil: 6 tackles
  • LB Jonathan Evans: 5 tackles, .5 TFL
  • DT Nick Fairley: 4 tackles, 1 TFL
  • Ole Miss third-down conversions: 6 of 14
  • TOP: Auburn 33:14, Ole Miss 26:46
  • One last thought: the win puts Auburn a step closer to its goal of winning the SEC West and possibly more. The Tigers have at least one backer on the Ole Miss sideline. After the game, a Rebels assistant approached Newton with a simple request: "Go win it all."


Clint Richardson said...

Rod Bramblet said something about Lutz having a sholder injury.

Hey AB, as a non-biast writer, what are your emotions like during a game? And how were you when you say Zac's story on Gameday?

AUsome04 said...

Great job AB! Dyer may get to 1000 yards with 4 possibly 5 games left in the season. WAR EAGLE