Ole Miss vs LSU Preview: Saturday’s clash is key SEC contest
With the season winding down, there’s so much at stake in this Saturday’s Southeastern Conference clash between No.22 Ole Miss and No.15 LSU (7-2, 4-2), two teams for whom there is still a lot to play. The Rebels, though they need a little help, still have a shot at an SEC West title and it all starts with the game against the Tigers.
Rebels’ head coach Hugh Freeze believes the bye week has been beneficial for Ole Miss, as the team looks to bounce back following an overtime loss to Arkansas two weeks ago. A win at home over LSU would give the Rebels (7-3, 4-2) confidence heading into the Egg Bowl on November 28.
Earlier in the week, Freeze reflected on the strength of the SEC Western Division:
I think I said that back on [SEC] Media Day; I think I said I thought all seven teams were good enough to beat each other. I think that’s semi-true for all of us. I think it is proven. Here we are with two weeks left, and if I understand this correctly, we are one of two teams that have a shot of making it (SEC Championship).
Freeze continued his comments on the strength of his team’s division: “Looking back, we had one not go our way against Arkansas. It sure would be nice to have that one back, but you can’t. There are some other teams whose depth chart is deeper than some of the others, and that does play a factor in the consistency over the course of the season, but on any given Saturday, anyone’s depth chart is this conference on this side (SEC West) for sure is good enough if you have the right game plan, get some momentum and get a break your way.”
Defensive consistency key for the Rebels against LSU
The Rebels need to find consistency on the defensive side of the ball, something that has been somewhat elusive this season.
This weekend, Freeze’s Ole Miss team will face another strong test, this time against LSU’s Leonard Fournette. The LSU running back looks to have a positive outing after being held to under 100 yards in the Tigers’ losses to Alabama and the Razorbacks. In the two games, Fournette combined for 122 rushing yards and two TD’s on 38 carries.
Yet, Fournette leads the SEC in rushing yards (1,474) and in last season’s matchup in Baton Rouge, Ole Miss held Fournette to 4.9 yards per carry.
“We did alright against him last year, but he is going to get his carries,” Freeze said. “If they decide on a game plan that is going to give him the ball, he is going to get his yards. You just hope that they aren’t as explosive to the point that is getting scoring opportunities based on one or two runs.
“He’s a super talented guy, he was that way when he go there. He’s only gotten better,” he added.
LSU’s passing game
Fournette might have gotten better since last season, but LSU’s passing game hasn’t improved enough to take some of the pressure off the running back. Tigers’ quarterback Brandon Harris has not come through for the Tigers in the past couple of weeks, passing for two touchdowns and two interceptions in losses to the Crimson Tide and Arkansas.
In both games, Harris threw for 399 yards on 27 of 54 pass attempts.
But LSU’s coach Les Miles feels Harris is good enough to keep the Tigers’ offense steady.
“I think our quarterback certainly can play better, but there were times where he was brilliant. He was 14 for 16 at one stretch. And then that’s the kind of quarterback that we need to have every day. We want to have balance and want them to defend the run and pass on every down and distance,” he added.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015
Time: 2:30 p.m. CT (CBS)
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
What to watch for:
- With a 4-2 league record, Ole Miss is in search of a winning SEC ledger for the second straight year.
- The Rebels are in a three-way tie for second place in the SEC West with Arkansas and LSU.
- Ole Miss is 36 points shy of breaking the single-season scoring record of 442 points set in 2003.
- Junior QB Chad Kelly is on pace to break nearly all of the single-season passing records in Ole Miss history
Saturday’s matchup will mark the 104th all-time meeting between the Ole Miss Rebels and LSU Tigers dating back to 1894. LSU is Ole Miss’ second-most played opponent behind Mississippi State. The Tigers hold a 59-40-4 advantage in the series, 9-7-1 in Oxford. Since the rivals started playing for the Magnolia Bowl trophy in 2008, LSU leads 4-3.
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.