Auburn used a 23-point third quarter to pull out a 33-20 upset win over No. 24 Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Ben Tate led the Auburn offense with 144 yards rushing as Auburn became bowl eligible with its fifth come-from-behind victory this season.
"I can't give our football team enough credit, starting with our seniors and just the way they responded in a tough stretch," said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. "They willed that win. That was a very, very good football team that we beat tonight and our kids deserved it because they never quit fighting. It doesn't surprise anybody in our locker room that that's who they are." Tate's 144 yards also pushed him past the 1,000-yard plateau for the season, marking the first time in his career to amass 1,000 yards in a season. "Ben went for over 1,000 yards today and I think that is significant in what we are trying to establish here as far as building a foundation on what we want to do," said Chizik. "He had another big day of 100 plus yards and that one big run. Ben just continues to show up and I am really proud of the way his leadership has come to the forefront for our football team."
Ole Miss struck first in the game, putting together a 10-play, 94-yard drive in its first possession for a touchdown. Auburn answered with 8:06 left in the first quarter on a 36-yard Wes Byrum field goal. The Tigers took the lead for good at the 5:23 mark in the second quarter as Chris Todd connected with Darvin Adams for a 28-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown pass was the 13th of the season for Todd while the reception was a team-leading sixth for Adams.
Auburn held a three-point advantage, 10-7, at the half before erupting for 21 straight points in a six minute span, needing just six offensive plays and a defensive score to take control of the game. Kodi Burns' 14-yard pass to Tommy Trott capped a three-play, 61-yard drive while Tate's 53-yard touchdown run finished a three-play, 67-yard drive.
Sandwiched between the two offensive scores was a Walter McFadden 29-yard interception returned for a touchdown on Ole Miss' lone offensive play in the sequence as Auburn went up 31-7 with 7:42 left in the third quarter. Ole Miss answered Tate's scamper with an 82-yard kickoff return by Jesse Grandy to make it 31-14 and then after a defensive stand went 79 yards on a Dexter McCluster run down the sideline to make it 31-20. The snap on the extra point was fumbled and the kick was blocked allowing Auburn's Demond Washington to scoop it up and run it back in for a 33-20 Auburn lead. Washington's return marked the first defensive two-point conversion for the Tigers since 1998 when Brad Ware returned a blocked kick for two points. Auburn's 23-point third quarter alone was more points than Ole Miss had allowed in an entire game this season.
Tate finished the game with 144 yards rushing, his sixth 100-yard rushing game this season and the 11th of his career. He now has 3,026 career yards rushing, which is fifth all-time in Auburn history. Todd finished the game 12-for-22 for 212 yards while Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead was 16-for-35 for 175 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, both by McFadden.
The two interceptions by McFadden mark the first time for a Tiger to tally multiple interceptions since Jonathan Wilhite against New Mexico State in 2007. Following Tate in rushing was Mario Fanin with 35 yards and Travante Stallworth with 22. Adams Terrell Zachery led the Auburn receiving corps with 83 yards on two receptions, followed by Adams with 68 yards on four catches. Fanin also picked up 35 yards on three receptions to finish the day with 70 all-purpose yards.
Defensively for the Tigers, Eltoro Freeman and Daren Bates tallied nine tackles each with Bates also picking up a fumble recovery. Craig Stevens had eight tackles, followed by Josh Bynes with six. McFadden had five tackles along with his two interceptions while senior Antonio Coleman finished the day with five tackles, four going for a loss, two quarterback sacks, a forced fumble and four quarterback hurries.