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No. 11 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Penn State: Scouting reports, QB battle, predictions, and more

Can Jaxson Dart lead Ole Miss to its first NY6 win since 2016?

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Mississippi State Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 Peach Bowl between Ole Miss and Penn State should be a quarterback focused offensive fireworks show.

But it won’t be, because the Nittany Lion defense will mirror a couple SEC defenses, stifling Jaxson Dart, and Drew Allar just hasn’t lived up to his hype in big games.

Dart is one of the top five quarterbacks to ever play at Ole Miss from a stats and wins standpoint, and he is set up to potentially be in the top two or three if he stays for a senior season. However, in games against really talented defenses this season, the offense has not played well in general and Dart has been more risk averse rather than trying to take over the game.

Against Alabama (No. 17 total defense) and Georgia (No. 9 total defense), the Ole Miss offense were only able to manage 27 total points. There was a 38-35 win against Texas A&M (No. 20 total defense) in Oxford where Dart passed for nearly 400 yards, but also a 17-7 win in Starkville over Mississippi St. (No. 37 total defense).

Allar, meanwhile, looked terrible against Ohio St. and Michigan both top 10 defenses in their own right. The playcalling focused on dinking and dunking trying to string together some kind of drive to score, and the Buckeyes and Wolverines controlled both games.

So how will things play out on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET in the Mercedez Benz Stadium in Atlanta? While the Nittany Lions had a huge opt out in Chop Robinson on its defensive line, the Rebel offensive line will have its hands full with the Penn State defense most likely. Dart will have to get rid of the ball quickly, and All-SEC running back Quinshon Judkins will need to set the tone in the run game to open things up.

On defense, Ole Miss loses Cedric Johnson to an opt out, but otherwise, it looks like everyone is available. The Rebels have good athletes defensively, and the defense in general has not allowed nearly as many explosive plays. This is how I think PSU will attack Ole Miss is through the short passing game to suck in the secondary and then take some shots at times to put points on the board.

I can’t imagine this game getting into the 30’s, and with a 48.5 O/U and a -3.5 spread for PSU, it seems oddsmakers agree this will be a low scoring and tight game. Based on the predictions from all the good bloggeurs at the Cup, fans should expect a slower paced game with several field goals tossed into the mix.

Staff predictions

  • Juco All American - 32-24 Penn State
  • JLew23 - 24-17 Ole Miss
  • One Man to Beat - 19-17 Penn State
  • Gray Hardison - 26-23 Ole Miss
  • Whiskey Wednesday - 27-23 Ole Miss