On Saturday when Ole Miss hosts Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, Rebel fans will finally see their team play again in the friendly confines of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Rebels (3-2, 1-2 SEC) have had a tough early schedule, playing four of the first five games on the road. However, they can now look forward to six straight games in Oxford. The home stand comes just in the nick of time, as the Rebels dropped their last two games—to Alabama and Auburn.
Though the ninth ranked Aggies (4-1, 1-1 SEC) are a 6-point favorite, they should have their hands full with the Rebel offense. Wide receivers Donte Moncrief and Laquon Treadwell are big, strong and explosive. They’ll be going up against an Aggie secondary that gave up 282 yards and three touchdowns to Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen two weeks ago.
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace is a dual threat and has a better arm than Allen. He also has a stable of talented receivers to whom he will try and get the ball. Ja-Mes Logan, Vince Sanders, and Evan Engram are all capable of making big plays for the Rebels.
What can fans expect to see from the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel? Likely more of what everyone has seen thus far. It is a given he will score early and often. Against Alabama, he threw for 464 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for another 98 yards. It is doubtful Ole Miss, or any team, will stop him.
While no one argues how explosive the Manziel-led Aggie offense is, everyone questions the Aggie defense, and with good reason. Currently, A&M is ranked dead last in the SEC in rushing defense, giving up an average of 214.8 yards per game. And with A&M defensive tackle Kirby Ennis, a mainstay in the middle, out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Rebels’ chances of running the ball have improved even more.
After the last two games, some may have written off the Rebels. I am not one of them.
They lost to the number one team in the nation at Tuscaloosa and lost to a vastly improved Auburn team that played LSU down to the wire. If the Rebels are able to improve their red-zone efficiency, make some plays on special teams (they are first in the conference with an average of 19.6 yards per punt return), and capitalize on a turnover or two, they have a legitimate shot at pulling off the upset.
My prediction: Ole Miss 47 – A&M 44
There truly is no place like home. Hotty Toddy!