GAMEDAY PREVIEW: Ole Miss At Auburn

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Jeff Scott
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Jeff Scott
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Oct. 5, 2013

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Monday Blog:Connections Abound In Ole Miss-Auburn Matchup

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AUBURN, Ala. -- No. 24 Ole Miss travels to the Plains for its third straight road game, as the Rebels square off with the Auburn Tigers. Kickoff from Jordan-Hare Stadium is set for 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.

"We're excited to get back on the field after last week's loss," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "We're 5-1 in the last six games that we've played, which we think has provided a very good foundation in where we are headed with the program. Sitting at 3-1 with the schedule we've had, is something that's a good start to year two of our building here. We're excited to get back out."

With road wins over Vanderbilt and Texas, Ole Miss is 3-1 for the second straight year and looks to start 4-1 for the first time since 2002. The Rebels remain nationally ranked for the fourth straight week, their longest stint since 2009.

Inheriting a team that went 3-9 last season and winless in the SEC, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has the Tigers off to a 3-1 start, with home wins over Washington State, Arkansas State and Mississippi State. The Tigers' only loss was in their last game at then-No. 6 LSU, as they enter this week coming off a bye.

"They remind me a lot of us last year," Freeze said. "They are a very hungry team that plays with great emotion, energy and passion. That doesn't surprise me at all with Gus' leadership. They're off to a great start and have been very good at home.  We have to go there for another road trip in a hostile environment on a Saturday night. It's a big game for both schools sitting at 3-1. He will have them ready.

"He's got them playing extremely hard, and you face an offense that is very balanced in rushing and passing. They give you a lot of looks, motions and smoke and mirrors, and they are very efficient at what they do. Defensively, Ellis (Johnson) is one of the best in the business and is very, very multiple. You have to prepare for most anything."

Freeze and Malzahn served as Arkansas State head coach in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and both teams run similar up-tempo offenses.

The two met when they were both high school coaches and traveled in the same circles of clinics and speeches. They were also both assistants in the SEC in 2006. At the time, Freeze was a recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at Ole Miss, and Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas.

"We certainly can look just alike offensively, if we wanted to," Freeze said of the two offenses. "We'll be able to simulate their looks very efficiently for our defense. But having said that, both of us can change a lot during the course of a week, and he has had two weeks to do whatever he is going to do. He will dress things up and add some wrinkles that we haven't seen.

"We are very similar in the things we do offensively, so it can help prepare us. You never know exactly what to prepare for. We'll show them what our defense wants to see, but there will be something that we don't cover that we will see Saturday night."

This marks the 38th meeting between Ole Miss and Auburn dating back to 1928. The Tigers lead the all-time series 27-10 overall and 13-2 in Auburn, while the Rebels won last year's meeting 41-20 in Oxford.

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