AUBURN TIGERS VS. SOUTHERN MISS GOLDEN EAGLES
Time: 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Commentators: Dave Neal, D.J. Shockley, Dawn Davenport
Watch Online: Streaming on WatchESPN.
On the heels of their not-so-beautiful victory last week, the Auburn Tigers will be back in action on Saturday. The Tigers, who sit at 3-1 on the year, will face off with the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
After hitting the quarter pole, Auburn stands as one of the better teams in college football. Their defense, certainly, has stood out through the first four weeks. They currently rank 3rd in the country in PPG allowed, having permitted an average of 12.5 points through their first four games. The only teams who rank higher are the Utah Utes and West Virginia Mountaineers. Pretty solid company. Their yards/play of 4.6 has them within the Top 25, as well.
In terms of other rankings, while they rank 10th in the polls, S&P+ has them 13th in the nation. Their SRS is 25th, and you get the sense that it might have a decent amount to do with the play of their offense. Jarrett Stidham has been just okay so far. His completion percentage is pretty gaudy at 64.9 percent. But, he only has 718 yards and his Y/A of 7.4 is actually higher than his AY/A, which is at 7.1.
He has just three touchdowns in four games. The Auburn offense certainly runs through the, well, running game. But you’d still like to see some more growth from him. Especially when you think about how most consider Stidham to be a lofty pro prospect.
It might not help that they’re facing a Southern Miss team that actually has a pretty solid pass defense. They’ve only given up an average of 139.3 yards per game through the air and a completion percentage of 51.6. Granted, the teams they’ve played are Jackson State, UL-Monroe and Rice. But it’s still impressive. Their team has totaled six passes defended so far (all by six different players) and have tallied four interceptions. Ky’El Hemby has the most with two, while Rachuan Mitchell and Ty Williams each have one of their own. So there are some playmakers on this defense.
Now, once again, it should be noted that Southern Miss hasn’t faced any juggernauts this season. Certainly nobody SEC-caliber, so they will face their toughest test yet. This will be something to keep an eye on in this game, no doubt.
Southern Miss hasn’t given up too much on the ground either. On average, they’ve let up 132.3 yards per game. That seats them 46th in the nation. But it might be worth mentioning that their YPC allowed is far worse. So far, that mark is at 4.9 on 27 carries per game or so. That has them tied with the FIU Panthers, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 102nd or so. Not great company.
You get the sense that JaTarvious Whitlow could really get it going. Whitlow is the team’s leading rusher so far and also has a team-high four rushing TDs. He and Shaun Shivers have been cutting teams up. Whitlow is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and Shivers has a beastly 6.5. You almost forget sometimes that the team has Kam Martin, an accomplished, experienced runner himself with how Whitlow and Shivers have played.
Auburn is a 27-point favorite against Southern Miss on Saturday. So, you kinda know where they stand here, Vegas-wise. They’re 1-2 against the spread in their last three games, all of which have been at home at Jordan-Hare. Maybe proceed with caution there, but... hard to really imagine the Tigers dropping this game.
Prediction: Auburn 35 Southern Miss 7