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ABOUT LAST NIGHT: #18 Auburn 31, #10 Ole Miss 20

Big win, huge crowd, tons of fun.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, or were watching the Braves or something, Auburn controlled the game against top ten Ole Miss with their Heisman favorite quarterback and had a heck of a fun night at Jordan-Hare Stadium in a 31-20 victory last night.

Auburn was favored against the Rebels by a few points, assumably because of the nighttime home field atmosphere, but the disrespect still flowed in from the early morning pundits. Some folks didn’t take to it well, and they were the kind of folks that you just don’t ever want to make upset.

You’re going to try and tempt Zakoby McClain into playing well, I guess that’s the way. The linebacker finished with 14 tackles last night, including two sacks of Matt Corral. He led the way in a linebacker unit that finished with 24 tackles and 4 TFLs on the evening overall.

The rest of the defense played super opportunistic, stopping Ole Miss on three fourth downs inside the red zone in the second half, and erasing another drive with and end zone interception. More on them in a moment, but we’ve got to keep talking about the fact that Bo Nix has been one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC since the Georgia State game.

In that time, Auburn is 3-1, with the lone loss to the #1 team in the country — and it certainly wasn’t Bo’s fault we lost that game — but he’s been outstanding. Carrying the team at LSU, hitting the deep shots against Arkansas, and playing mistake-free football last night against Ole Miss and outdueling Heisman contender Matt Corral.

He’s somehow found that rhythm with his receivers, knows that he’s just as dangerous a runner as Tank Bigsby at times, and just seems to be, dare I say, having fun?

It really did start with that 4th down scramble against LSU, so we thank Ed Orgeron for that.

As for last night overall, one thing that really stood out was the atmosphere and the crowd. Personally, I watched on TV, and the crowd noise wasn’t just loud but noticeably loud throughout the game.

The orange facemasks looked great, and the whole stadium was popping loud throughout, which obviously helped out on those late defensive stands.

Many people thought that Bryan Harsin’s non-answer on the vaccine question would cause some sort of distraction during the week and into the game, but Auburn seemed like they couldn’t have cared less about anything but beating Ole Miss last night.

Again, nobody’s in this tunnel saying “Hey, whoa, aren’t we worried about our coach??”

They went out and played to a standard of Auburn football that’s been missing for a while. Gus Malzahn was successful, but this team is improving every week and figuring out where they’re best. That’s a huge testament to Harsin and the staff’s preparation.

Now for more on the defense. Early on you could see the bend but don’t break approach taking shape, and Ole Miss certainly moved right down the field on multiple occasions, but the below numbers bear out the final score and why it happened.

Ole Miss went for it on fourth down four times, going 1-4 on those chances.

Of those three failures, all came inside the Auburn red zone, ending at the Tiger 20, 13, and 18 respectively. If Lane Kiffin just kicks field goals there (Caden Costa was 2-2 with a 49-yarder), then it’s 9 additional points on the board in an 11-point loss. It changes the entire complexion of the game, but we knew that he’d do that going in. In the College and Mag Slack channel we all expected to see something similar to South Carolina in 2014, when Steve Spurrier refused to punt, and we weren’t wrong.

When it came down to needing to prevent points, though, stopping Ole Miss wasn’t just something that began last night. Let’s look back at the last three victories, where Auburn has held LSU, Arkansas, and Ole Miss to a goose egg in the final quarter.

And when you’re able to do that against a guy like Matt Corral, it’s special.

On the offensive side, Bo Nix had a ton of help from his backfield mate in Tank Bigsby, who broke out with his best game of the season. 140 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown, and he showed off why he’s such a dangerous part of the offense. Now that the defenses have to focus a bit on Bo, he’s not quite so bottled up.

And when we go back to the crowd and atmosphere, it’s always fantastic to see Auburn teams supporting other Auburn teams.

And again, if there’s any sort of discord between Bryan Harsin and the Auburn team or fans, I have really failed to see it. Most of what’s making people mad is between him and writers who don’t like not getting all of the facts, or who just want to stir things up.

And this was just too good not to share as well.

After the win, Auburn rose from #18 in the rankings to #12, one spot ahead of Texas A&M. The Tigers and Aggies will play this coming Saturday in College Station (where Auburn has never lost) at 2:30 pm CST on CBS. If Auburn gets through this game, there are going to be a bunch of people penciling in College Gameday for the Iron Bowl in a battle for the SEC West. War Eagle!