Auburn at Ole Miss

TWO OF THE TOP FOUR IN “PLAYOFF” RANKINGS SQUARE OFF SATURDAY NIGHT IN THE SEC

If you assume it’s very unlikely that a team with two losses is going to play for the National Championship, then Saturday Night’s Auburn/Ole Miss showdown will be an elimination game for the loser.

#3 Auburn is 6-1 (with #6 Alabama and #11 Georgia still head)
#4 Ole Miss is 7-1 (with #1 Mississippi State still ahead)

It’s far from guaranteed that the WINNER will reach the Final Four given the challenges still ahead. Remember that the ultimate winner of the SEC West will still have to face Georgia in the SEC championship game...meaning Auburn may have to beat Georgia twice and Alabama and Ole Miss if they want a return trip to the big game.

The Rebels have an easier pathway thanks to a win in hand over Alabama already. That would loom large in a tie-breaker at the top of the SEC West if ‘Bama keeps winning...and would surely earn Ole Miss the upper hand in the eyes of the selection committee if both teams win out.

Sure, the rest of the country is mad that the SEC is getting all the attention. This is where the best football is played! Eight straight national champions would like to discuss it with you if you have any qualms. For now, this week’s showcase showdown is an elimination knee-knocker that may or may not ultimately launch the survivor into football’s Big Dance.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S indicator stats have to say about this knockout round...

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Auburn: 6-1 (#2 schedule in USA Today)
Ole Miss: 7-1 (#7 schedule in USA Today)

Both teams have played brutal schedules. When the season is in the books, Auburn may have played one of the most brutal slates ever! Don’t forget that a road game at Kansas State was on the ledger. The Wildcats may win the Big 12. Not much to separate the teams so far. We have two legitimate powers.

Yards-Per-Play
Auburn: 6.9 on offense, 5.1 on defense
Ole Miss: 5.9 on offense, 4.4 on defense

Auburn is the more explosive team, which earns them the better YPP differential against a slightly tougher schedule. But, Ole Miss has the better defense...which you saw for yourself when they humbled an Alabama team that has put up a lot of big numbers in other places. Here are NETWORK we respect defense...so we’re going to call this a virtual wash even though Auburn’s +1.8 is better than Mississippi’s +1.5. History has made it clear that the better defense deserves more handicapping respect.

Turnover Differential
Auburn: +6
Ole Miss: +13

Ole Miss is actually tied for #1 in the country in raw turnover differential. If you use a per-game measure, they drop to #3 because they’ve played eight games and other turnover success stories Georgia and TCU have only played seven. As we’ve said in recent weeks, you should think of this Ole Miss team as you do recent Alabama teams in terms of high impact defense. The Rebels hurt people and take the ball away.

Market Performance
Auburn: 3-4
Ole Miss: 6-1-1

Ole Miss wasn’t getting enough respect to start the season, which is why they’ve been so great against market expectations. The only non-cover was last week against LSU. And, they might have covered that one if quarterback Bo Wallace hadn’t lost his composure so badly midway through the game. Auburn was the national runner-up last year, which makes it harder to cover spreads because the public wants to bet the powerhouses.

Current Line: Ole Miss by 2, total of 51

This one opened at Ole Miss -3, and has been bet down. That’s worth paying attention to because sharps took the game off the key number of three with their betting action. Clearly, the Wise Guys think Auburn is the better team...particularly with the uncertainty that Ole Miss quarterback Wallace can handle big game pressure. He passed a test vs. Alabama, but then flunked badly late vs. LSU. Auburn’s quarterback finds a way to reach the end zone! Though, Auburn money did stop coming in at the two. The total has risen from an opener of 48.5 up to 51.

JIM HURLEY may or may not be releasing this game on his formal Saturday ticket. There are plenty of possibilities as we go to press. NETWORK clients only get BEST BETS! You can purchase the final word Saturday morning in the hours leading up to first kickoff right here at the website with your credit card. You know he’s been on a role...and we’re about to start a NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER! If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about combination packages that include football and the just-started NBA season.

Just one college football preview in the NOTEBOOK this weekend because there aren’t any other Saturday blockbusters. We’ll return Sunday to preview Baltimore/Pittsburgh in the NFL on NBC. Monday Night’s game this week is Indianapolis at the NY Giants on ESPN. We’ll preview that one for you on game day.

The college football tournament is already beginning given the importance of knockout matchups like this. When championships are on the line, you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

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