The Rebs completed a perfect 5-0 week after an improbable comeback in the Sunday finale against Auburn. Now, Ole Miss (31-10, 10-8) turns its attention to Tuesday's "non-conference" matchup against Mississippi State (27-13-1, 10-8) in Pearl, Miss. at Trustmark Park. The series, formally known as the Governor's Cup, is tied 18-18 after Ole Miss reclaimed the hardware with an 11-1 throttling last year, the most lopsided victory in the 26-year history of the series.
The advantage has been with the Bulldogs this season, though. The Rebs dropped two of three in the actual conference series in Starkville, getting shut down by State's elite starting pitching on Friday and Saturday before the bats finally broke out in Game 3.
But that's the one weak spot for the No. 4 Dawgs: lack of pitching depth in both the rotation and bullpen. Dakota Hudson and Austin Sexton are one of the country's best 1-2 duos, but it's been a mixed bag after that. They had to use nine pitchers last week to win a 14-inning affair against ULM and eight pitchers earlier in the season in a 3-1 loss to Oral Roberts. Against Ole Miss, they'll start Ryan Cyr who has a 0.00 ERA, but has only logged 12 innings on the bump this season.
Ole Miss will be going with a new midweek starter. James McArthur, who's been lights out in that role recently, has played his way into the Sunday starting gig (Mike Bianco confirmed that he will start Game 3 against LSU this weekend), so the Rebs will turn to Chad Smith on Tuesday against State. Smith started the season as the Saturday starter but was pulled from the weekend rotation after faltering early in conference play. Chad has been putting on quite the Jekyll and Hyde routine all season showing flashes of brilliance with his lively fastball and off speed depth, but then struggling with command and longevity.
The Dawgs hit it well and are coming off their first series win over LSU since 2006. Freshman sensation Jake Mangum leads the way with a .422 average with Jacob Robson (.372), Brent Rooker (.333), Jack Kruger (.333) and Reid Humphreys (.328) not far behind. They're hitting .308 as a team and have a healthy mix of average and power.
The Rebs could really throw a wrench in State's plan by scoring early, which they've done often this season. Ole Miss has outscored the opposition 39-15 in the opening frame this season. With five every day starters hitting over .300 now and Colby Bortles (.280) about to knock on the door, the Rebs could be heating up at the right moment.
Most NCAA Tournament projections have Ole Miss listed as a two-seed in regional play, but the door is technically still open for a late run at a hosting spot. The Rebs rank No. 5 in Warren Nolan's RPI rankings with weekend series against LSU (14th), Georgia (28th), Kentucky (39th) and Texas A&M (4th) still on the schedule. Tuesday's bout with State could help as well.
How to watch
You'll actually get to watch a road midweek game on TV! SEC Network will broadcast and stream live.
First pitch: 6:30 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Radio streaming: TuneIn Radio - Ole Miss IMG Sports Network
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Ole Miss: RHP Chad Smith (3-3, 4.99 ERA, 39.2 IP, 41K, 25 BB)
State: RHP Ryan Cyr (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 12.0 IP, 10K, 3 BB)