Auburn (3-4, 1-3 SEC) had no answers for the No. 9 Ole Miss (7-0, 3-0 SEC) rushing attack during Saturday's 48-34 loss to the Rebels. This is only Auburn’s fourth loss ever at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and its second loss to the Rebels since 2009. 

Auburn’s defense, which was supposed to be the strength of the team this season, was gashed repeatedly by a committee of Ole Miss runners, including three over 100 yards. 

Ole Miss runningback Quinshon Judkins finished the game with 139 yards on 25 carries, including the dagger, a 41-yard touchdown just before the lightning delay. 

Rebels runningback Zach Evans, the TCU transfer, also eclipsed 100 yards, gaining 136 on 21 carries, and quarterback Jaxson Dart capped off the group with 115 yards on 14 carries. Dayton Wade, a wide receiver, got in on the action with 4 jet sweeps totaling 63 yards. 

“They had a few formation adjustments that were good. I think there was some scheme in there, some different looks that they gave us,” said Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin. “They ran hard. The backs ran hard. The QB being a threat helped their inside zone.”

The Rebels tallied a total of 448 yards on the ground, the second-most against a Power-Five opponent in program history.

The start to the game could not have been scripted any worse for Auburn. The defense came to play on the first two possessions, but Auburn turned the ball over again with a Robby Ashford interception on an overthrown screen pass. 

With the ball at the Auburn 46, Ole Miss and Jaxson Dart made short work of the Auburn defense, scoring in two plays with a 35-yard toss to Wade and taking a 7-0 lead.

Two more bad offensive drives by Auburn, including one killed by Robby Ashford mishandling the snap, followed by T.J. Finley's fumble in his only action of the game led to a 21-0 lead for the Rebels at the start of the second quarter.

Auburn looked dead in the water and were outgained 225-23 in the first quarter, but the Tigers fought to stay in the game and turned the tide in the second quarter. 

“Down 21, you gotta just fight. We ain’t playing a video game. That’s when people would pass the sticks. We’re not gonna do that,” said linebacker and captain Owen Pappoe. Pappoe led the team in tackles once again with 16. 

Auburn outgained Ole Miss in the second quarter 177-48 behind two methodical drives, each capped off by two-yard rushing touchdowns from Ashford and Tank Bigsby, and closed the deficit to seven. 

Bigsby had his best game of the year on Saturday, tallying 179 yards on 20 carries along with two touchdowns. This was his second 100-yard performance of the season and 11th of his career. He is currently No. 12 all-time in career rushing yards at Auburn.

Jarquez Hunter added 80 yards on 10 carries as well. 

“We didn't have many negative plays. We had some big, explosive runs today, and that was huge,” Harsin said. “We didn't give up a ton of penetration. The backs got going. They ran hard.”

Auburn forced its first interception of the year by a defensive back late in the second quarter on a Keionte Scott tip-drill, setting the team up for an Anders Carlson field goal and trailing 28-17.

Auburn got the ball to start the second half and the Tigers scored their second second-half touchdown since the San Jose State game on a 50-yard touchdown run by Bigsby, his second of the game and suddenly Auburn was trailing just 28-24. 

Ole Miss was able to respond with a long drive, but the defense held strong and forced a rare Ole Miss field goal. What came next would define the game and ultimately decide it. 

The ever-aggressive Lane Kiffin called for an onside kick that Auburn did not see coming, and Ole Miss took possession and all of the momentum on the way to another touchdown, making it 38-24 in favor of Ole Miss. 

"Flat-out, they got us on that. That was a good call by them,” Harsin said on the onside kick from Ole Miss. “We'll go back and have a reason why it didn't go our way.”

The Auburn offense responded again, but the defense had no answers for Kiffin’s offensive game plan as the 14-point difference would hold through the rest of the game.

The three turnovers, including another Robby Ashford interception in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, proved to be too much for Auburn to overcome down the stretch. 

The offense came alive on the ground with 301 yards and 6.3 yards per carry, by far its best performance of the offensive line and led by the duo of Bigsby and Hunter. 

“We ran the ball better today, which is what we wanted to do,” Harsin said. “I thought our running game was much better. That kept us in the game. Turnovers are still a factor."

The performance was overshadowed by another abysmal performance in the passing game for Auburn and a historically bad defensive game at the line of scrimmage. 

Leaning on the running game, Robby Ashford did not get a lot of opportunities in the passing game, and he finished the game with just eight completions on 17 attempts for 140 yards and two interceptions. He also added two rushing touchdowns on the ground. 

On the defensive side, the 448 yards given up on the ground is the worst in at least 22 years for the Tigers. With this loss, the Tigers are now 3-9 in their last 12 games, the worst stretch for the program since the 2012 season. They started the Bryan Harsin era going 6-2 in his first eight games, including the signature win against Ole Miss last season.

“These guys, they're fighting. They're trying to find ways to win,” Harsin said after the game. “It's hard to do that every single week. No matter who you're playing, it's hard to win. I think there are some positive things we've done the last couple of weeks, but we're not there.”

Auburn now heads into the bye week ahead of their Halloween weekend matchup with Arkansas (3-3, 1-3 SEC) on Saturday, October 29. The game will be inside Jordan-Hare Stadium as the program honors the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Amazin’s team.

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