Who would have ever predicted that the Ole Miss Rebels (4-4) would, on paper, be sitting in a better spot than LSU (4-5). After being gifted a win in the Swamp due to a cleat being hurled through the air, the Tigers are trying to end the 2020 season .500 as they welcome in Lane Kiffin and the nation’s most prolific offense.
The Rebels lead the country in yards per game (563) and is the 15th-rated offense per Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings. Ed Orgeron’s defense is ranked 78th (yes, you read that right) and could be without their entire starting secondary, including Freshman All-American Derrick Stingley, Jr. This potentially bodes well for Matt Corral and the rest of the Rebel offense as they have feasted on everyone not named Arkansas this year.
Defensively for the Rebs, their 98th-ranked defense was dead last earlier this year and has made significant strides in the second half of the season. The biggest difference for DJ Durkin and Chris Partridge’s defense is getting Georgia transfer Otis Reese on the field. He made a night-and-day difference in the Egg Bowl and I anticipate him roaming the second and third levels on Saturday in (the fake) Death Valley.
The most unsung of all unsung heroes this year for Ole Miss has been Snoop Conner, Jerrion Ealy, and the offensive line. The big uglies, led by Rimington Award nominee Ben Brown, have continued to gel and pave the way for the conference’s leading rushing attack. The Rebels are averaging 206.5 yards per game on the ground and have been able to do it either way in games this season.
On the other side, Bo Pelini and LSU are going to have their hands full. The only two defenses worse than theirs are Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. They have the worst pass defense in the SEC and, as mentioned above, are thin in the secondary.
Offensively, the quarterback position has been a revolving door for LSU after Myles Brennan went down with a season-ending injury. TJ Finley and Max Johnson have traded snaps under center and have had mixed results. Finley has had some moments against Arkansas and South Carolina, but it appears Johnson will be getting the starting nod on Saturday after his play against Florida last week.
Lastly, with Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah opting out to prepare for the NFL Combine, the Ole Miss offense will look drastically different. What will Kiffin and Lebby cook up for the Tigers? Will John Rhys Plumlee be involved? Will we see more Henry Parrish? Can’t wait to find out!
This one should be fun. It’s a freebie for everyone being in a COVID-affected season, but the Rebels have a ton of momentum, a record-setting offense, and the better quarterback situation. If you were to tell me the Rebels jumped out to an early lead and LSU quit, I wouldn’t be shocked. But, after last week’s emotional win in Gainesville, do the Tigers have renewed interest?
Line: Ole Miss +1.5
How to watch
Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
When: 2:30pm CDT
TV: SEC Network, DTV:611
Online streaming: WatchESPN