This weekend’s Southeastern Conference week eight matchup is between two 2-4 teams heading in two totally different directions. Ole Miss is in year one of the Lane Kiffin Era, rebuilding a program that has not enjoyed any national relevancy (outside of some dicey situations with the NCAA) since 2016. And South Carolina is potentially facing a very tough decision with Will Muschamp in year five, struggling to compete week in and week out.
Will Muschamp has re-opened the quarterback competition in Columbia after Collin Hill played arguably his worst game of the season last week against Texas A&M. Now, sophomore Ryan Hilinski and true freshman Luke Doty are pushing Hill for reps with the first-team offense.
The good news is when they arrive in Oxford, a rather mild defense awaits. The bad news, the Gamecock offense barely managed three points last week against the Aggies, and the week before, they got in a shootout with LSU and came up very short. Kiffin’s offense, led by redshirt sophomore Matt Corral, is a very impressive 28th in the country, per Bill C’s SP+ numbers. Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah form one of the most dynamic duos through the air while Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy are their own version of Thunder & Lightning on the ground.
The question is: can the Gamecocks do enough to not only slow down Jeff Lebby’s high-powered offense but can they also score enough themselves?
Who will play quarterback? Can anyone not named Shi Smith step up for them to make some plays on third down? Does Muschamp’s 51st-ranked defense have enough motivation in the tank?
I expect Mike Bobo to lean on Kevin Harris and the run game to help whoever is under center get settled. The Hinesville, Ga. native is third in the SEC in rushing and is also a threat out of the backfield. On the other side of the ball, Ole Miss better know where Kingsley Enagbare and Ernest Jones are at all times, both are third and fourth in the conference in sacks and tackles respectively.
This one could potentially be decided within the first quarter or so. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rebels jump out to an early lead that the Cocks might quit. But, that’s why they play the game, right?
Line: Ole Miss -11
How to watch
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss.
When: 6:30pm CDT
TV: SEC Network, DTV:611
Online streaming: WatchESPN