The Auburn Tigers (2-2) are officially in a bad place after their 30-22 defeat at the hands of South Carolina last weekend. This was their first loss to the Gamecocks since 1933. This Saturday they face another team that was upset last time out, the Ole Miss Rebels (1-3). Here are the three keys to an Auburn win.
By Steve Wright
Win the turnover battle
Let’s start with the obvious. Auburn has to protect the ball better. Bo Nix threw three picks in the road loss – as favorites – to South Carolina. It actually covered a fairly productive day for Nix as he passed for 272 yards and rushed for 69 more. The picks, however, led to 21 points and that’s just a hard number to come back from.
On the plus side, Auburn is facing a QB coming off of an even more wretched game. Matt Corral of Ole Miss threw for 200 yards, two touchdowns, and a ridiculous six interceptions in the 33-21 loss to Arkansas. He also coughed up a fumble that was recovered by the Razorbacks. Whoever looks after the ball better wins this one.
Run the ball
With Nix struggling at times, Auburn needs to lean on the run even more than they have so far this season. The ground came went for 209 yards and a score against the Gamecocks and true freshman Tank Bigsby again made a strong case for being more involved in the attack. Bigsby had 16 carries for 111 yards and a score, rumbling for 6.9 yards per carry. He leads the FBS with 9.5 missed tackles per 25 carries and if he doesn’t get at least 20 touches on Saturday then questions need to be asked of the game plan.
Stop with the penalties
It is hard to win games when you beat yourselves. Auburn is 13th out of the 14 SEC teams in penalty yardage per game. The only team worse at giving up free yardage is Georgia and they have – generally – more top end talent to get away with it. South Carolina converted seven third-down conversions on Saturday. Three of those were on pass interference penalties. It just can’t happen at this level and the Auburn players have to show better discipline on the field.
Saturday‘s South Carolina-LSU game kicks off at 6:00 PM CT (7:00 PM ET). You can watch on the ESPN Network.