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Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State: Picking who has the advantage at every position matchup

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Football is a collection of individual battles combined into one group effort. Let's take a look at who has the advantage in each those individual battles.

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks

Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph finished second in the Big-12 in total passing yards with 3,591 while completing 62.6 percent of his passes. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Rudolph is still battling back from injury and might not be 100 percent come Friday. If he can't play a complete game, expect to see senior backup J.W. Walsh. Walsh isn't exactly a polished passer but he is a running threat who will present a different challenge for the Ole Miss defense.

Chad Kelly has had a special season at Ole Miss. The uber-talented junior threw for 3,740 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 65.2 percent of his passes. What separates Kelly is his ability to run the football in Ole Miss' zone-read offensive scheme (557 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in 2015) as well as his knack for evading pressure in the pocket.

If Rudolph is completely healthy the Sugar Bowl will be a quarterback clinic. If he isn't and Walsh has to take a significant amount of snaps, Ole Miss will have an obvious edge.

Advantage: Ole Miss

OSU running backs vs. Ole Miss linebackers

The Cowboys don't exactly run the football well. As a team, they average just over three yards per carry against Power 5 opponents and their leading rusher, Chris Carson, only has 504 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the season.

Linebacker was a position of weakness for Ole Miss for most of the season, but DeMarquis Gates has emerged as a more-than-capable SEC linebacker late in the year and now leads the team in tackles. The Rebels are thin at the position, but Oklahoma State's inability to run the football consistently (they rank 114th in rushing S&P+) should comfort Ole Miss fans.

Advantage: Push

OSU offensive line vs. Ole Miss defensive line

Despite the absence of Robert Nkemdiche and Fadol Brown, Ole Miss has one of the most talented defensive lines the Cowboys have faced this season, especially against the run, where the Rebels rank in the top 20.

Oklahoma State statistically protects quarterback Mason Rudolph well on passing downs, despite opposing defenses sacking him 27 times this season. Depth is a bit of a concern for Ole Miss coming into this game, but as a whole they SHOULD be the more talented unit and the Cowboys present no threat in the ground game.

Advantage: Ole Miss

OSU wide receivers vs. Ole Miss secondary

This is the match-up that should scare Ole Miss fans the most. The Cowboy receiving corps brings three receivers that have over 40 receptions and 695 receiving yards on the season. The talented group is lead by sophomore James Washington, who has 1,077 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 20.7(!) yards per catch.

The secondary has been a puzzling weakness for Ole Miss, particularly getting off the field on third down. Seniors Trae Elston and Mike Hilton have been very good, but the rest of the unit has left much to be desired this season.

Advantage: OSU

Ole Miss running backs vs. OSU linebackers

Since the return of star left tackle Laremy Tunsil (or Jeremy Tissil if you're Houston Nutt) from suspension, the Ole Miss ground game has vastly improved. The three-headed-monster of Jaylen Walton, Akeem Judd, and Jordan Wilkins combined for 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry this season.

Three of Oklahoma State's top-five leading tacklers play the linebacker position and all have more than 7.5 tackles for loss this season.

Ole Miss does have an edge in rushing S&P+, but as a whole both units are relatively average statistically.

Advantage: Push

Ole Miss offensive line vs. OSU defensive line

A lot of NFL scouts' eyes will be fixated on the match-up between Laremy Tunsil and Emmanuel Ogbah on Friday night, and for good reason: both are expected to be early first-round picks in the 2016 draft.

Outside of Ogbah, though, the Cowboys don't present a ton of major challenges with their defensive line, especially since second-team All-Big 12 defensive end Jimmy Bean wend down with a torn ACL. Ole Miss hasn't exactly been world beaters upfront themselves, but it is a unit with a ton of experience who improved mightily down the stretch.

Advantage: Ole Miss

Ole Miss wide receivers vs. OSU secondary

The Rebels, led by star receiver Laquon Treadwell, possess one of the most efficient and prolific passing offenses in the country. They have six receivers with at least 29 receptions and eight receivers with at least one touchdown pass.

Oklahoma State's first-team All-Big 12 cornerback Kevin Peterson will present a lot of trouble to whomever he is covering, but Ole Miss is simply too talented across the board for a team that is statistically average-at-best in pass defense.

Advantage: Ole Miss

Special teams

Statistically, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State are about as even as you can get across the board when it comes to the special teams units.

There is a statistical outlier for each team, though, and Oklahoma State's comes by way of the punting game: freshman Zach Sinor lands a punt inside the 20-yard line or forces a fair catch 82 percent of the time. Ole Miss' advantage comes from kick-offs, where the Cowboy's junior kicker Ben Grogan forces a touchback in only 25 percent of his kicks.

Advantage: Push

If you're keeping score at home, I gave Ole Miss the edge in four of these matchups, with Oklahoma State only receiving one. Despite including three "pushes" because I'm a wuss, I do think Ole Miss is clearly the more talented football team in this game. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are guaranteed a win (see Memphis 2015), but if the Rebels come in motivated and execute, they should be too much for the Cowboys to overcome.