Ole Miss vs. Auburn Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds
Spread: Auburn -1
Game time: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Where to Watch: ESPN
Ole Miss vs. Auburn Prediction
The exact odds will vary depending on your bookmaker, but most oddsmakers have pegged Saturday’s Ole Miss-Auburn shootout at Jordan-Hare Stadium as something close to a dead pick’em. It’s a fun matchup between always-weird programs. Ole Miss, a perennial chaos team, visits the house of the most devoted chaos team in college football. Something will be proverbially lit on fire in this game, and these teams enjoy those environments.
The selling point for Ole Miss, of course, is that Lane Kiffin has built one of the best offenses in the sport. Quarterback Matt Corral is a Heisman contender, running back Jerrion Ealy is a nightmare to tackle, and Corral’s various receivers have proven themselves good targets. Well and good as that all is, the offense has been more good than awesome in conference play, and the defense has languished alongside Arkansas’ and Vanderbilt’ for the title of “worst in the SEC other than Missouri.” Ole Miss has gotten some of the best special-teams play in the conference, which might come into play in a relative toss-up game.
Auburn’s strengths and weaknesses are a little less distinct. First-year coach Bryan Harsin has them playing solidly but not spectacularly on both offense and defense. Junior quarterback Bo Nix is eternally a roller coaster, and his overall results have trended toward “fine.” He was OK in a tough road loss at Penn State, pretty great in a win at LSU, reduced to a pile of ash against Georgia’s world-beat defense, and then great in an uncharacteristically boring Auburn win over Arkansas. The defense found itself carved up against Georgia and Penn State and has otherwise been pretty good, including against a not-bad Arkansas offense.
I worry a good bit for Auburn’s defense. The Tigers’ pass defense has had high peaks and low valleys this year, but it’s impossible not to notice that their best efforts against opposing QBs have come against pass-challenged teams like Arkansas, LSU, and the Group of 5 and FCS teams on their schedule. They gave up 9.2 yards per throw to Penn State’s Sean Clifford, who may or may not be great (it’s hard to tell now that he’s hurt and struggling, but he struggled for most of his career until 2021) and 11 to Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, who barely had to throw because his defense and run game supported him so well. Corral is a different kind of dude than any QB Auburn has played before, and has mostly been a statistical marvel.
Auburn stops the run well, and Ole Miss is a much less pass-heavy team than you might think. (In SEC play, they’ve run 55 percent of the time, third-most in the league.) But Kiffin adapts his approach considerably by the opponent, and rushed well under half the time while moving the ball well through the air against the likes of Louisville in Week 1 and Tennessee in Week 7. I don’t think Kiffin will want to test the Auburn front all that often, and instead he’ll let Corral try to win him the game. There aren’t many better QBs to have in a coach’s corner in such a situation.
Ole Miss’ defense is bad enough that it could, of course, let Auburn go ahead and win anyway. (The Rebels’ coordinator on that side of the ball is DJ Durkin, a man who absolutely should not have a job that gives him influence over college students’ well-being.) But the Ole Miss defense played its best game since Week 1 last weekend against LSU, and I’m willing to believe Nix will not have one of the great games of his career against this unit. I find it likelier that Corral will give Auburn’s defense a rough ride, and so I like Ole Miss to win on the road. Note that these teams are so weird that betting on either is not for the faint of heart.