Preview: Ole Miss vs. No. 24 LSU
It’s that time of year, Rebel fans. The purple-and-gold clad Tigers will be coming to The Grove this Saturday–and they’ll do so with a newfound sense of confidence.
With both Ole Miss and LSU coming off huge, much-needed wins last week at home, the table is set for a great showdown in Oxford Saturday night. The Rebels pounded Vanderbilt last week in a 57-35 win, while LSU knocked off No. 12 Auburn, 27-23, in Death Valley.
The victories were crucial for both teams. Ole Miss was coming off three tough road losses in a row, while LSU head coach Ed Orgeron seemed as if he might be on his last leg after being trounced at home by Mississippi State in week three–followed by a shocking homecoming loss to Troy in week five.
This week, the Tigers jumped into the rankings at No. 24 with a 5-2 (2-1 SEC) record. The Rebels are 3-3 (1-2 SEC).
What to Know
Who: No. 24 LSU vs Ole Miss
What: Tigers (5-2, 2-1 SEC) Rebels (3-3, 1-2 SEC)
When: October 21 – 6:15 p.m. (CT)
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium – Oxford
Favorite: LSU -7.5
The difference for the Rebels
NWO. Nasty Wide Outs. Enough said.
Shea Patterson and the Ole Miss offense can be deadly with the ability to strike quickly and frequently. The ground game that had struggled a bit going in to the Vanderbilt game produced 252 yards on 41 carries, for a 6.1 yard per carry average, against the Commodores. Jordan Wilkins carried a career-high 18 times and gained 113 yards (6.3 per carry average) against Vandy.
This greater offensive balance allows Shea Patterson and his collection of star wide receivers to do what they do best–gain crazy amounts of yardage through the air.
Patterson enters the game against LSU averaging 357 passing yards per game–number one in the SEC and 7th best in the nation. He also leads the league in both pass completion percentage (65.8%) and touchdowns (17) and boasts a 160.4 QBR.
A.J. Brown, Patterson’s top target, is also atop the league in many key receiving categories. He is No. 1 in the conference in total receiving yards (678), which ranks him fifth-best in the nation.
Brown leads the SEC in average yards receiving per game (113 yards), far ahead of second place, which happens to belong to LSU’s D.J. Chark (76.4 yards per game). Brown shares first place in the league for receiving touchdowns with teammate DaMarkus Lodge (6 touchdowns), and is in first place in the conference in total receptions (35).
The combination of A.J. Brown, DaMarkus Lodge, D.K. Metcalf, and Van Jefferson has proven, time and time again, to be a nightmare for defenses. If you put your top CB on Brown, you then leave Metcalf and company open. If you cover Metcalf, you are then forced to deal with a wide-open A.J. Brown–with Lodge and Jefferson by his side.
The Rebels passing game is hard to beat when Shea and his WR’s are on.
Ole Miss defense
The Ole Miss defense will need to continue its recent improvement when it faces LSU and its stable of talented running backs.
Currently, the Rebels are giving up an average of 37 points per game and 238 yards per game on the ground. The Tigers, who have always been known for their downhill, between-the-tackles run game, bring running backs Darrius Guice and Darrel Williams to the contest against the Rebels. They are a deadly one-two, backfield punch when healthy. Guice has a total of 102 attempts for 435 yards this season, a 4.3 yard per carry average.
For Ole Miss to win this Saturday, the Rebels need to limit Guice and Williams as much as humanly possible. If defensive end Marquis Haynes and company can force LSU to put the game in LSU QB Danny Etling’s hands, the Rebels have a good shot at winning the game.
Speaking of Marquis Haynes, the senior from Jacksonville, Fla. had a phenomenal game against the Commodores last Saturday, notching 8 total tackles (5 solo) and recording 3 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, and forcing two fumbles.
Simply put, Vandy had no answer for Marquis as he disrupted their offense from start to finish. The three sacks moved Haynes into first place on the school’s all-time sack list with a total of 27 (surpassing Greg Hardy’s previous mark of 26).
What to expect
If Shea Patterson and his NWO’s continue to dominate; if the newly-energized Rebels’ running game is serviceable; and if the defense gets a few stops and maybe even forces a turnover, Ole Miss fans are going to like Saturday night.
Both teams are confident right now, coming off big wins. LSU is still fighting for an SEC West title that is technically within reach. Though Ole Miss is not eligible to play in a bowl game this season, make no mistake: these Rebels are playing for pride and they’re playing to win. They haven’t given up–and neither should Ole Miss fans.
Saturday night is the night for the Rebels to lay it all on the line.
LSU hates Ole Miss. Ole Miss hates LSU. Perfect.
Rivalries are always fun to watch, especially in the SEC. Add the lights, the confidence, and the bitter disdain between the two schools, teams, and fan bases, and you’ve got yourself a classic game in the making!
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)