By Greg Ostendorf
AUBURN, Ala. - The early kickoff did nothing to deter Auburn on Saturday. The Tigers scored touchdowns on each of their first five drives, jumping out to a 35-3 lead in the first half, and finished with a 44-23 win over Ole Miss.
"I'm extremely proud of our team," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "This was a game that a lot of teams could have come out and flopped around in the first half, especially with what happened last week with us and them. I'm really proud of our leadership that we answered the bell. We came out of the gate, playing extremely well on all three phases."
Kerryon Johnson picked up right where he left off the previous two weeks, rushing for a career-high 204 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. The junior running back has now rushed for 11 touchdowns over his last three games, and as of the conclusion of Saturday's game, he currently leads the nation with 12 rushing touchdowns on the season.
"It felt great," Johnson said. "I felt so close to normal, and I just couldn't hide it. In the open field, I was making people miss. I was able to get up to a faster speed than last week. And it just felt really good to be close to normal. I know I'm getting better. I just have to keep it going."
Led by Johnson, the Auburn offense piled up a total of 561 yards against Ole Miss. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham went 14 of 21 and threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
The longest play of the day came on Auburn's second drive when Stidham threw a short screen pass to Ryan Davis, who took it 75 yards to the house. Davis got key blocks from Austin Golson, Casey Dunn, Nate Craig-Myers, and Will Hastings, as he sprinted up the Auburn sideline before crossing the field and eventually crossing the goal line.
It was Auburn's longest offensive play of the season.
On defense, the Tigers slowed down a potent Ole Miss attack. Sophomore defensive tackle Derrick Brown led the way with six tackles, two tackles for loss, and he combined with teammate Jeff Holland on a sack.
It was also a memorable day for Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson, who went 3 of 3 on field goals (49, 25, 35) and was a perfect 5 of 5 on extra points. The senior's last field goal gave him 413 career points, making him the all-time leading scorer in SEC history.
"Daniel's one of our team leaders," Malzahn said. "He's earned that. He's got respect from both sides of the football, from the coaches. He's not looked at just as a kicker on our team.
"I can't say enough great things about Daniel Carlson as a person, but he is a super competitor. You could put him at wide receiver, and I truly believe he'd be a really good wide receiver, too. He's just got that mentality."
Auburn (5-1, 3-0) has now scored at least 40 points in three straight SEC games for the first time in school history and will travel to LSU next Saturday.
Greg Ostendorf is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @greg_ostendorf