Auburn's rivalry with Ole Miss isn't as wrought with history as some of the other schools we're dealing with in this series; the schools have only played annually since 1990, and prior to 1972 had only met in six regular season games all-time. Of course, they also played one another in two bowl games, with Ole Miss winning the 1965 Liberty Bowl 13-7 and Auburn returning the favor with a 35-28 win in the Gator Bowl following the 1970 season. Auburn leads the series 28-10, but quite possibly the key component in this rivalry is one man: Thomas Hawley Tuberville, who was once carried from Oxford to Auburn in a pine box. That is how that happened, right?
Our guest today is Bob Lynch, managing editor at SB Nation's Red Cup Rebellion, and he's got definitely some things to say.
Jon: Before we get into the product on the field, this wouldn't be any fun if we didn't dig into off-field topics too. So let's start with this: Tell us about your absolute worst memory of an Auburn game, and your favorite moment against them.
Bob: My absolute worst memory after an Auburn game was in 2009 when a talented Ole Miss lost to a less-than-talented Auburn team by 13. It was a rainy day, which led to sloppy play and turnovers, and the team just generally disappointed by playing really uninspired football. That game was a noon kickoff on Halloween that year, which meant that the evening's festivities were more-or-less ruined by bad football.
My favorite moment against Auburn was actually in 2012, Hugh Freeze's first year. Ole Miss had lost something like 14 straight SEC games at that point, and that streak was snapped against Auburn in Oxford. It was a beautiful fall day - perfect for football - and the team rode a very strong second half to beat the Tigers by 21. After two years of bad football, we finally had a team that wasn't an embarrassment, and that feeling first game against Auburn.
Jon: We're always a bit curious about how we're viewed outside the Big 12. What are your impressions of K-State?
Bob: My impressions with Kansas State really begin and end with Bill Snyder. My impression of him isn't that he's some sort of innovator or top-flight recruiter - even though he knows X's and O's and is able to sign talented players - but rather that he's just really good at running a program. I also associate Kansas State with junior college recruiting, because the Wildcats (as the Rebels) seem to dig into the Juco ranks a good bit for talent. I admittedly haven't had many experiences with Kansas State fans, but I know a lot of Kansans and they're all swell. That's gotta count, right?
Jon: Luck plays a part in everything, obviously, and almost no team wins a championship without catching a break here and there. Do you feel Auburn's run to the BCS title game last year was more a function of fortune than talent, or did they really belong?
Bob: You don't win that many games without being a talented team, but how often is that tipped Hail Mary pass against Georgia going to work? How often are you going to return a placekick back for a touchdown? Those are just super low probability plays, and they somehow worked for Auburn back-to-back. So, yeah, luck definitely played a big role in their BCS Championship Game appearance.
But they played well enough against Florida State to show that they were a worthy enough opponent.
Jon: How about this year? What are your impressions of the team in general, and how serious a threat do you think they are to reach the playoff? Other than Nick Marshall, who should we be really concerned about?
Bob: Auburn's not beating LSU, Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M. They might not even win half of those games. I think they're a great team, but they're in a conference with plenty of other great teams. Nick Marshall is an incredibly dangerous offensive player, but his offense is definitely bolstered by halfback Cameron Artis-Payne and receiver D'haquille Williams. Both of those guys are absolute handfuls.
Jon: Granted you probably don't follow K-State as closely as you do Auburn (which is why we're doing this in the first place), but is there anything you've seen with Auburn that you think K-State is well-positioned to exploit?
Bob: Against Arkansas, I was less than impressed with Auburn's run defense (in the first half at least). They did hold San Jose State to less than two yards per carry, but I'm not sure what that signifies. They have had a few issues with ball security this season, fumbling the ball twice last weekend against a team they had no business turning the ball over to. Turnovers are football's great equalizer, so if Kansas State can force a few while not committing any themselves, they should be able to make a game of it.
Jon: They're coming to our place, and that means that at least some of their fans will be there too. Now, level with us: what's that going to be like if they've got any sizable presence?
Bob: My interactions with Auburn fans have been generally unremarkable. They're not generally amicable towards Ole Miss fans a la Georgia fans, nor are they particularly crass towards us a la LSU or Mississippi State fans. They're just sorta there, I guess.
Jon: Finally, it's that obligatory moment when I wring a prediction out of you. What's your call?
Bob: Auburn wins 42-27. Their offense is just really good, and I'm not sure Kansas State will be able to contain them.
Our thanks to Bob for contributing to this series. Be sure to pay RCR a visit. I have to admit, getting down to The Grove on gameday is a bucket list item. For me, anyway, if not for ESPN.
We also asked #OleMissTwitter for their thoughts, and actually got a few:
@jonfmorse all Auburn fans are afraid of the dark.— Justin Killough (@KilloughJustin) September 10, 2014
@jonfmorse Auburn fans refer to Rich & Rare as "the good whiskey."— Wesley Walls (@wesleywalls) September 10, 2014
@jonfmorse Tommy Tuberville can go to hell.— Chris Brown (@crbrown2) September 10, 2014