Welcome to November.
Not today, of course. Today is the day kids way too old for trick or treating and way past the age of looking cute brave the elements and make you come to the door to give them free candy.
Get off my lawn.
Well, I’m actually not the neighborhood curmudgeon. We give away the good stuff at my house, not the orange and black candy.
November will be in full swing Saturday when the Rebels visit No. 11 Auburn.
It’s my opinion that bowl drama was removed for this team when they lost a winnable game 24-17 against Texas A&M. Had they won there the Rebels would have had a real shot for six wins.
I don’t view Auburn and LSU, two of the Rebels’ final four games, as winnable, and the Rebels need three wins in four games to reach six and bowl-eligibility.
There may remain a bowl-game chance depending on how many slots can’t be filled if the Rebels’ APR scores rank them high enough among 5-7 teams.
In other circumstances you might scoff at accepting a bowl under those terms, but I wouldn’t scoff at that for the current Ole Miss team … which still needs two wins to get to five.
Could the Rebels surprise with a win this weekend?
I don’t think so, but I don’t put this game in the Alabama category in which I felt like the best thing the Rebels could hope for in Tuscaloosa was to compete harder, compete better than they have against Alabama in recent seasons.
Auburn is strong defensively, particularly up front with a junior-senior defensive line that has multiple playmakers.
The biggest maker of plays is end Marlon Davidson who has nine tackles for loss, 5 ½ sacks and three pressures. He left last week’s LSU game with a back injury but is expected to be ready for the Rebels.
Auburn is No. 3 in the league in rushing defense. Ole Miss has run the ball on some solid defenses. It will take all the Rebels have to get that done this week.
I asked Rich Rodriguez if, given the physicality and stellar play of the Auburn defense, it might not be good to show them some different looks, things they’d not seen on video. There’s been two weeks to get this done.
His answer was interesting. Of course, coaches get jittery when any question probes too close to the game plan. He responded by talking about why that might not be a good thing because of the Rebels’ inexperience and not wanting to “confuse” his players or put them in a spot where they might make mistakes.
“That’s a thought you could have (with different looks) but then you’re worried about our own youth and confusing us. The last thing you want to do for our guys is have some indecision or some confusion up front and all of a sudden now we can’t execute. If you poorly execute against a team as good as them then it’s really going to be bad, so I think we’ll try to do what we can do well,” Rodriguez said.
We’re eight games into this thing now, and those freshmen and inexperienced linemen have a lot more snaps under their belts than they did at Memphis.
The interesting part came later in the presser when Rodriguez was asked about different looks that the Auburn defense presented to the LSU offense, specifically a three-man front.
“They’ve got experienced guys that know what they’re doing and are playing very physical. Our guys, it always starts with us first. We’ve got to be able to do what we can do, but at the same time you better have a thing or two in plan to try to have some success against them. If you run right at them or just do what you’ve been doing, they’ll have a plan for that,” Rodriguez said.
So, will Rodriguez have new wrinkles for Auburn?
Will it matter? It will have to if the Rebels are going to have a chance to spring an upset in what would be the signature win of the Matt Luke Era.
For Ole Miss to have a chance it will start with defense. The Rebels will have to first match Auburn almost defensive stop for defensive stop to help keep their offense in the game.
The Auburn offense has been less than dynamic in upper-tier SEC games against Florida and LSU. They’ve been a lot better in middling- and lower-SEC games against Texas A&M, Arkansas and Mississippi State.
If the Ole Miss defense plays above its heads Rodriguez and the offense will have to take advantage of field position and scoring opportunities when they present themselves because they won’t present themselves often.
Those new wrinkles will have to result in big plays.
There’s a lot that has to happen in that scenario for the Rebels to pull out a win, and too many times the last three seasons it’s been more trick than treat for Ole Miss.
Prediction: Auburn 31, Ole Miss 17