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Game Preview and Open Thread - #11 Auburn vs Ole Miss

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THE SKY IS FALLING. TIME TO FIX IT.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - Purdue v Auburn

This past week has been a study in Auburn fandom in a microcosm. Depending on how you look at the Tigers’ current situation, you’ll feel one of two ways.

On one hand, Auburn lost to the now top-ranked team in the country, by three, on the road, in a place where they hadn’t won in two decades. They held the nation’s best offense to half of their seasonal average, hit the current Heisman front runner more than he’d been battered at all this season, and nearly recovered an onside kick at the end for a shot at the win. At 6-2, the Tigers have lost in two of the most hostile environments to two teams ranked in the top six. They’ve beaten the #7 team in the country as well. Now, there are no more road games and Auburn begins a stretch where there’s plenty of chance for redemption.

That’s only if you #BarnHard. There’s another way to look at this.

GUS MALZAHN NEEDS TO GO. WHY CAN’T HE WIN THE BIG GAME. WHY DOES OUR OFFENSE SUCK. ISN’T HE THE OFFENSIVE GENIUS GURU AND THE OFFENSE SUCKS. WHAT?? NOW JOEY GATEWOOD IS GONE? GREAT. MAYBE IF WE’D PLAYED HIM IN BATON ROUGE WE WIN THE GAME AND BO NIX DOESN’T MISS PASSES AND MAYBE WE’RE 7-1 OR 8-0 WHY DIDN’T WE DO BETTER.

That’s if you want to Bunker down and be a nega-Barner.

In reality, it’s probably a little of both. A nice healthy mix of positive and negative. Yeah, Auburn lost a game to a really good team. Yeah, the Tigers very well could be 8-0 if about 5-6 plays this year had gone differently. It didn’t happen. Instead, we’re 6-2, and we’ve got plenty of opportunity for more.

The road swing is done. We’re at home from here on out. There’s really no shot at a division title anymore. There’s really nothing to do except screw up the good times for our most hated teams. Georgia and Alabama are both still on the horizon, and you’d be crazy to think that this Auburn team doesn’t have some sort of a shot in both games.

However, there’s some improvement that needs to happen and it needs to start today. Ole Miss comes to town with a similar thought on their mind — they want to ruin things for Auburn, and take down a disappointed team coming off of a hard-fought game. It’s similar to last year’s loss to Tennessee. Auburn had gone to Starkville, got run through, and came home for an early game only to lose. Thankfully tonight’s game isn’t going to be a bleary-eyed affair in the morning, but the threat’s still there.

The Rebels honestly don’t provide much of a challenge on paper, and they’ve only really been more than a small road block for Auburn in 2014-15. Gus Malzahn has lost just once to Ole Miss, and that came with his worst team.

Again, today’s all about what Auburn does more than what Ole Miss does.

Can the Tigers find a way to run the ball? Is that going to come up the middle? Are they going to figure out how to incorporate perimeter running successfully?

Will we see Bo Nix settle down a little? His two worst games came in hostile environments. He’s been great at home. There’s no doubting that, but we need to see a rebound after last weekend.

Auburn’s running back rotation had a new leader emerge in Boobee Whitlow’s absence last week, and D.J. Williams won SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts at LSU. He’ll get the bulk of the carries tonight, and if he gets room to run then that’ll open things up for Bo and the rest of the passing game.

Defensively, just do what you’re doing. I love Kevin Steele. He installed a 3-1-7 defense to slow down LSU, and he did it in a week. I have a feeling he’s cooking up something special for Alabama and Georgia, but we’ll have to take care of Ole Miss first. The Rebels may find a little room early, but they won’t have much room to work once adjustments are made.

Look, the bottom line is that this team deserves your support, and whether you want to Barn or Bunk, you need to be there in loud adoration tonight. We have four home games left, and we’ll be in December before you know it. There are four chances to lose your voice and scream loud for Auburn football. Don’t miss an opportunity.

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