While already over in the minds of an overwhelming majority of Ole Miss fans, the Rebel football season underwhelmingly trudges along led by (once again, the mind of Ole Miss fans) a lame duck football administration into one of the more interesting out of conference matchups Ole Miss has played in recent years. For the first time in program history, the Ole Miss Rebels will travel to the Pacific time zone to go toe-to-toe with a Californian foe. Here's what one should expect.
When the Rebels are on offense: Expect a lot of runs out of Jeff Scott, Enrique Davis, and Brandon Bolden in order to set up a lot of play action. Fresno State's rush defense is a good one, but they struggled against Cal and Nebraska, the other two BCS level teams they've faced this year (which also happen to be their two losses). Their defensive line is also significantly undersized but, when considering this OL's performance against the also undersized Vanderbilt and Southern Illinois, it's apparent that such a situation means nothing. The common thread defensively is Fresno's pass defense which, while not atrocious, is giving up over 200 yards a game in the air. Considering that half of their games have come against the likes of Idaho and North Dakota, it becomes clear that Fresno is a team that the Rebel receivers should have some capability against. Whether Stoudt or Mackey will be fully competent at quarterback against the Bulldogs remains yet to be seen, obviously.
When the Rebels are on defense: Derek Carr is a pretty damn good quarterback. Surely you've heard of his older brother, David, one of recent memory's more notable busts as a #1 overall NFL draft selection. He and his coaches will look to take serious advantage of Ole Miss weaker pass rush and get the ball to their offensive playmakers, notably Jalen Saunders and Robbie Rouse, in open spaces. The Rebel secondary will have to play very heads up ball and beat their opponents athletically. If Charles Sawyer or Marcus Temple can come up with a few defensive turnovers, then we should do an alright job of keeping the Bulldogs out of the endzone.
In general: How much energy and intensity will we see out of this team? The Rebs are travelling across a couple of time zones to play at a location as far west as this program has ever played. Furthermore, there are grumblings amongst the program that the team has all but given up on the coaching staff at this point. I can't say that I believe that, nor could I say that such would be all that astonishing. Put these factors up against Fresno State's amplified level of play they seem to reserve for BCS opponents (Bulldog head coach Pat Hill is 6-2 against BCS level teams in Fresno since 1997), and you could be looking at a prepared, excited team getting ready to embarrass a listless visiting squad.
Prediction: Do I have to? I can't force myself to care a lot about this game, no matter how hard I try. Even a win against Fresno wouldn't do much to lift our collective Rebel spirit meaning that such an outcome is more likely than we might imagine. Ole Miss 31, Fresno State 27
So, on to the open thread.
October 1, 2011
8:15 PM Central
Television: ESPN 2
Radio: Listed Affiliates
....ummm, nothing. Yeah, we haven't so much covered this game this week. Controversy and stuff, y'all!
Trivia: Fresno State's two losses this season have come to BCS schools. Their two wins have come against non-BCS Idaho and FCS North Dakota... Pat Hill has been the head coach at Fresno State since 1997 and has only seen two losing seasons... This is the furthest west Ole Miss has ever played and the latest Ole MIss has ever played, with the kickoff coming after 8PM Central... Fresno State's stadium is named "Bulldog Stadium" which is wildly clever.