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Nix, defensive power No.18 Auburn after Miss Ole No.10, 31-20

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Nix, defensive power No.18 Auburn after Miss Ole No.10, 31-20

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Bo Nix had 276 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores and Auburn’s No.18 defense made a number of big saves in a 31-20 win over 10th-ranked Mississippi on Saturday night.

The Tigers (6-2, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) remained Alabama’s No. 3’s top challenger in the West Division, with Nix winning a quarterback duel with Heisman candidate Matt Corral.

The Rebels (6-2, 3-2) ended their three-game winning streak after wasting four second-half scoring chances, three with fourth misses inside the 20. Additionally, Jaylin Simpson intercepted a pass in the end zone – only Corral is second this season – halfway through the fourth.

“These are points. They’re not going to take any points on special teams,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “They’re going to go and we get the ball back. You kind of think of that as a turnover.

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“These are critical moments in the game that we were able to win.”

Nix completed 22 of 30 passes and ran 30 yards. Tank Bigsby ran 140 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers.

“Bo made a lot of plays for them, especially early on,” Ole coach Miss Lane Kiffin said. “I think our defense, having struggled at the start, played particularly well, gave us a lot of chances to win offensively.

“It’s four times in the red zone without any points. It will be difficult to win.”

Corral enjoyed his 19-game streak with a touchdown pass with a performance of 21 of 37, 289 yards. He ran for a score, returning after being hauled to the locker room with a left ankle injury, previously injured against Tennessee.

“It’s the same thing that happened in the Tennessee game,” said Corral. “I couldn’t feel my ankle. I heard a pop, but honestly I don’t know what it was. I couldn’t feel it for five minutes.”

But, he added: “No excuse not to execute.”

Jahcour Pearson caught seven passes for 135 yards for the Rebels, who were shorthanded as wide receiver. The western Kentucky transfer came in with 30 yards this season. Top wide receiver Dontario Drummond suffered an undisclosed injury in the game and Jonathan Mingo was left out while Braylon Sanders was limited.

Ole Miss was left alive late with an Auburn fumble in midfield. But the comeback offer ended in a failure of 4 and 3 of 18 when the Rebels were also flagged for two penalties.

Take it away

Mississippi: A team that had attempted and converted more fourth downplayers than anyone else in FBS lost their mojo in key situations. In their two losses, including against Alabama, the Rebels are 3 of 9.

Auburn: Beaten back-to-back SEC West to keep control of his own destiny in the division. Nix was superb against Arkansas and Ole Miss after being knocked out against Georgia State.

THE BIG GAME OF ZAKOBY

Auburn linebacker Zakoby McClain had 14 tackles, 10 solo and two sacks. The Tigers also got defensemen Owen Pappoe and TD Moultry back after missing several games.

“Owen, he’s a captain and he just brings the energy,” Simpson said. “He’s the heart of the defense and I’m happy to have him there.”

SURVEY IMPLICATIONS

The Tigers should jump a few places in the standings. The Rebels’ first visit to the Top 10 since the last poll in 2015 was short-lived.

FOLLOWING

Mississippi welcomes Liberty and former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze on November 6.

Auburn visits No.14 Texas A&M on November 6.

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