AUBURN | No. 12 Auburn is coming off back-to-back blowout wins to open conference play. Ole Miss took a 66-3 beating from No. 1 Alabama last Saturday.
The Tigers are a resounding three touchdown favorite over the Rebels so there’s a lot of good reasons to predict a big AU win in Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday.
But could Auburn be headed for a letdown game? Gus Malzahn is taking steps to try and prevent just that.
“Each week is unique in its own right, especially in our league. You can't take anything for granted, and we talked about that with our players,” Malzahn said. “Our leaders understand that. You can turn on the film and you can see they're a talented team. They're very scary on offense with the receivers and their quarterback throwing the ball down the field. Defensively, they run to the football.
“We've addressed it. And like we talked about, the teams that are there at the end, they find a way to get up each week. You can't buy into what last week was, not in this league. We're expecting their best and that's our approach.”
Just three years ago, a third-ranked Auburn team was about a three touchdown favorite over visiting Texas A&M, but lost 41-38, ending any hopes of being part of the first College Football Playoff.
That game was an afternoon kickoff. Today's is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT, which could dampen the enthusiasm of the home crowd.
The message has certainly reached Auburn’s players this week. They are expecting a tough game out of the Rebels. Last season, Auburn scored 12 unanswered points in the fourth quarter in a 40-29 come from behind win at Ole Miss.
“I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, when people play Auburn, it’s like, ‘Ahh, let’s go get this W, no matter how we played last week.’ So that’s how we go into every game,” running back Kerryon Johnson said. “We realize Ole Miss has got some of the best skill players and a very good quarterback in this league, so if we come in half-stepping, they’ll put up 50 points. And it’s hard to keep up with 50 points.
“Obviously our defense isn’t going to let that happen, obviously our coaching staff isn’t going to let that happen, but we have to make sure we come every week with, ‘Hey, this is a big game.’”
Ole Miss sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson leads the SEC averaging 361.5 passing yards per game. He’s completed 100-of-151 passes for 1,446 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Malzahn said Patterson has a little Johnny Manziel in him in reference to the former Texas A&M quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy in 2012.
"I think their quarterback is a guy that can really make things happen when things break down,” Malzahn said. “I think it'll be a good test for us. I know they had a tough game last week. We are expecting their best. Our guys understand that they are talented and we've got to be ready to play.”
The game will be carried on SEC Network.