OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss finally did what no other Southeastern Conference team had done, all but stopping quarterback Cam Newton from running with the ball Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Cam Newton turns receiver, catches TD pass/Todd Van Emst photo
Instead, Newton and Auburn’s offense gladly took what was available, and the Tigers marched on in their season of glory with a 51-31 pummeling of Ole Miss that wasn’t really even that close.
Newton completed 18-of-24 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. And then he made a leaping catch of a Kodi Burns pass for a different kind of touchdown. He even made a touchdown-saving tackle after he and Onterio McCalebb failed to get together on a handoff. But he had lots of help.
One-man team? What one-man team?
Freshman Mike Dyer rushed 21 times for 180 yards and scored a touchdown.
McCalebb rushed nine times for 99 yards and scored on a 68-yard run.
Cornerback Demond Washington made a momentum-turning interception at the 2-yard line and a game-turning 95-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.
The offensive line cleared the way for 343 rushing yards. The Tigers broke the 300-yard barrier for the fifth consecutive time against Southeastern Conference opponents.
Darvin Adams caught six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown and Emory Blake five for 60 yards.
Wes Byrum kicked three field goals as Auburn scored on 10 of 12 possessions.
The defense rallied after taking some hard shots in the first quarter and kept the Ole Miss offense and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli at bay until the game was in hand. The Rebels got a late consolation touchdown against reserves, mostly true freshmen.
And Auburn moved to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss, fighting valiantly to save a lost season, fell to 3-5 and 1-4.
Second-year Auburn coach Gene Chizik marveled at it all.
“We don’t play perfect all the time,” Chizik said. “Sometimes it’s not as pretty as we would like it to be. But the results are the same this week as they have been for the past eight weeks.”
The Tigers, who play Chattanooga for homecoming next Saturday, guaranteed they will have an opportunity to win the West when they play at Alabama on Nov. 26, regardless of what happens in two weeks against Georgia. Should Alabama stumble, they could win it by beating Georgia.
And they figure to remain No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series standing Sunday.
It didn’t look much like an Auburn blowout early. Ole Miss freshman Jeff Scott took a handoff on the jet sweep and ran 83 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the game.
Auburn answered with a 71-yard touchdown drive that ended with Newton’s leaping catch. McCalebb ran 68 yards for a touchdown, but Masoli hit Markeith Summers with a 29-yard touchdown pass and it was 14-14.
Auburn took the lead on Wes Byrum’s 25-yard field goal with 14:07 remaining in the second quarter and never relinquished it.
After McCalebb’s fumble and Washington’s interception, the Tigers drove 98 yards in 12 plays. Newton threw to Adams to finish it off. Ole Miss answered with Bryson Rose’s 32-yard field goal and Washington promptly returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards.
Ole Miss made a puzzling decision to go on fourth-and-1 at his own 41 with 1:17 left in the second half. Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes stuffed Masoli. Byrum kicked a 35-yard field goal to make it 34-17 at halftime.
By the time the fourth quarter came, Auburn led 44-17 and was more interested in running the clock than piling up more yards. After Newton’s threw a 10-yard pass to Terrell Zachery to make it 51-24 with 4:36 left, the celebration began.
The Tigers piled up 572 yards offense, 29 first downs and were 9-of-13 on third down. They scored on 10 of 12 possessions. Ole Miss had 407 yards