University of Missouri

Auburn defense presents Missouri’s toughest challenge yet

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn talks with his players during last week’s game against Mercer.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn talks with his players during last week’s game against Mercer. AP

As if Missouri hasn’t struggled enough to score points the past two weeks, it will face its toughest challenge yet when the Auburn Tigers visit Columbia for a 6:30 kickoff Saturday night.

MU put up a combined 16 points in losses to South Carolina and Purdue after a 72-43 Week 1 victory against FCS Missouri State.

The offense has struggled to stay on the field, holding the ball for an average of just 20 minutes per game, placing Mizzou last in FBS.

Meanwhile, the Auburn defense has been lights-out, allowing only 201.7 yards per game, second-best in the country.

“They’ve been tremendous through three games,” MU coach Barry Odom said during the weekly SEC teleconference Wednesday. “They play well together, they are coached very well and have tremendous athletes.”

The Auburn defense has allowed an NCAA-best 3.18 yards per play.

“They’re so solid up front. They are very aggressive,” Odom said. “They’re as good as there is in college football.”

Auburn’s 10 sacks lead the Southeastern Conference, along with Vanderbilt, and its pass rush will challenge a Mizzou offensive line that has only given up two sacks this season.

After back-to-back home losses, Missouri players met Monday and addressed what some of them perceived as not competing hard enough.

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