The Tigers went into Oxford, MS tonight on a roll and hoping to keep that momentum going into the home stretch. For most of the night, that looked like it would be in question as Chad Kelly and the Ole Miss passing attack carved up the Tigers' defense for one of the worst passing defense performances the Tigers have ever had.
Here's the thing, though. With all of that, the Tigers defense held when it needed to, and it kept Ole Miss under their average for points per game and did enough for the Tigers to leave Oxford with the big SEC West win and heading into next week's Vanderbilt game with tons of momentum.
Going in, we knew Auburn was facing one of the best passing offenses in the country. Ole Miss was going to be able to move the ball well if they could get quick passes in to negate Auburn's pass rush, and they did just that. The Tigers only tallied 2 sacks against Kelly all night; one by Carl Lawson and one shared by Jeff Holland and Marlon Davidson.
Of course, the other story going into this game was Ole Miss' rush defense. They've been blistered by good rushing offenses over the last few weeks, and that did not change, tonight. Kamryn Pettway put up 236 yards on 30 carries all by himself as a part of the Tigers' 307 yards total. That puts Pettway at 933 yards for the season, and he didn't even record a carry in two of the Tigers' games.
As for the game, itself. It was a back-and-forth affair until the 4th quarter. Ole Miss struck first, but Montravius Adams blocked his second kick of the season when he got his hands on the extra point. Auburn drove down the field and pounded the ball into the end zone with a 41 yard Pettway touchdown.
The two teams traded field goals for much of the 2nd quarter, and the game went into the half with Ole Miss leading 22-20.
Both teams have struggled with the 3rd quarter lately, and this game was no exception. They did both add passing touchdowns, though. Auburn's was a very emotional one for many, as tight end Jalen Harris - a protege of former Tiger Philip Lutzenkirchen - caught the first touchdown pass by an Auburn tight end since CJ Uzomah in the 2014/15 Outback Bowl.
Ole Miss recaptured the lead just before the end of the 3rd quarter, but the Tigers' defense would stand strong in the 4th. They held Ole Miss from scoring while adding two field goals of their own before the play of the game happened with Josh Holsey intercepting Chad Kelly and returning it 47 yards. Kerryon Johnson would put the game away with a touchdown a few plays later.
It was a heart-pounding game for the Tigers in just their second road game of the year. Sean White quietly had another great game throwing 15/22 for 247 yards. He almost had Kyle Davis for a bomb of a touchdown, but threw just a half step ahead of the freshman wide receiver.
Auburn is now 6-2 heading into the Vanderbilt game next weekend. The Tigers should be favored - and should win - every game from here to the Iron Bowl, which sets things up for a crazy game in Tuscaloosa.
War Eagle, everyone!