Auburn lost again today, and while it was the same outcome, it was a different journey to get there.
The Tigers fell to Ole Miss 48-34 to drop to 3-4 overall, and 1-3 in SEC play. The Rebels stayed perfect on the year after a day where they rushed for 448 yards and had three different players hit the 100-yard mark. Auburn got a huge rushing day from Tank Bigsby, but an awful first quarter left too big of a hole for the Tigers to claw back from.
Things started slowly for both sides, as the Tiger defense forced a stop on a fourth down on Ole Miss’ opening drive. The Rebels drove 46 yards on 9 plays but failed on a short fourth down to give the Tigers the ball back. However, the first quarter was one of the worst of the season for Auburn, and their four drives resulted in two punts, a fumble, and an interception.
After a punt on the Rebels’ second drive, they went to work following an interception of Robby Ashford. Dayton Wade caught a wide open 35-yard touchdown pass from Jaxson Dart to open the scoring before Dart hit Zach Evans on a 23-yard swing pass to push the lead to 14-0. At the end of the period, Ole Miss had driven inside the Tiger 5-yard line and began the second quarter with Evans’ 3-yard rushing touchdown to make it 21-0.
On Auburn’s first drive of the second quarter, the rushing attack came alive. Auburn drove 75 yards in 9 plays to get on the board with a short touchdown from Ashford, then followed it up with a 76-yard drive resulting in a Tank Bigsby 2-yard touchdown. Ole Miss would answer that with 3 minutes left in the half as Dart found Quinshon Judkins for a short touchdown on another swing pass, giving the Rebels a 28-14 lead. The Tigers tacked on a 42-yard Anders Carlson field goal as the half expired to go into the locker room down 28-17.
Out of the intermission, Auburn again found room on the ground. On the third play of the drive, Tank Bigbsy exploded up the middle, dodging defenders and breaking tackles for a 50-yard touchdown run to pull the Tigers within a 28-24 deficit.
The scoring kept coming for both sides after that touchdown from Tank, as Ole Miss drove for a short field goal after reaching a goal-to-go situation, putting the Rebels back up by a touchdown at 31-24. Lane Kiffin reached into his bag and executed a perfect onside kick to steal a possession, and the Rebels took advantage. Dart hit a big run up the middle, and Quinshon Judkins finished the drive with a 5-yard rushing touchdown. 38-24 Ole Miss midway through the third quarter.
Auburn didn’t blink, though, and Robby Ashford showed his composure with a 34-yard completion to Luke Deal on a third down on the next drive. Then, Ashford scampered down the sideline, just stepping out inside the 10-yard line, and he rushed up the middle for a touchdown two plays later. Auburn had pulled within a 38-31 deficit in the late stages of the third quarter.
Ole Miss once again drove into Auburn territory, and faced a fourth down with 12:30 to play at the Tiger 23-yard line. Lane Kiffin elected to go for it, but Auburn called a timeout and cooler heads prevailed on the Ole Miss sideline. The Rebels kicked a 39-yard field goal to extend the lead to 41-31.
Auburn wasn’t finished, and Tank Bigsby began the ensuing drive with a 50-yard run to put Auburn right back into scoring position. Needing two scores to tie or take the lead, Jarquez Hunter followed Tank’s run with a 20-yard burst to set up first and goal. Robby Ashford took a loss on second down, and a false start pushed the Tigers back and they had to settle for a field goal try. Anders Carlson nailed a short kick, and Auburn pulled within a 41-34 deficit with 9:05 left to play.
Ole Miss began to drive, leaning more on the run, and on a 3rd-and-1, Judkins exploded up the middle for a 41-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 48-34 with 6:26 left in the game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tank Bigsby showed that he was the best back in the SEC, with his best career total for a single game. Maybe we figured out how best to block for him and something clicked with the run game, because we’ll need this output the rest of the season.
PLAY OF THE GAME
It’s the Tank touchdown run early in the second half. It might end up being his best run of his career, and yet another example of how much he enjoys playing against Ole Miss.
Auburn will take its first break of the season with the open week after seven consecutive games. The Tigers will return home Halloween weekend to host Arkansas, with kickoff time yet to be announced for the October 29th game.