Ole Miss and No. 9 Texas A&M square off Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
In a game that will feature two explosive offenses, albeit one that has struggled as of late (Ole Miss), there are several interesting statistics to make note of ahead of the SEC West battle.
You’ve read the complete game preview, now it’s time to review some important stats and figures.
RB Jeff Scott Making Most of Each Rush
While Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott has played well this season, averaging 84.8 YPG on the ground, the 8.7 yards he’s picking up on each carry is most impressive.
When he’s gotten a lot of touches out of the backfield, the Rebels have fared well.
In Ole Miss’ three wins, the senior speedster has averaged 11.7 carries and 110 yards rushing.
However, in losses to Auburn and Alabama, Scott only averaged 7 carries and 47 yards rushing in each contest. While a major reason for fewer carries was inefficient O-Line play, the fact is that the Rebels rely strongly on Scott to help provide a balanced offensive attack.
On Saturday, No. 3 will face a Texas A&M run defense yielding 214.8 YPG and 6.1 YPC to opponents.
If Scott can get 12-plus carries against the Aggies, which he should, he could put up some big numbers.
Texas A&M, WR Mike Evans & Money Plays
StatCrew, a software program used by FBS programs, identifies a “money play” as a play which results in a touchdown or first down.
That being said, the Texas A&M offense has been pretty wealthy on third downs in 2013.
Of 19 third-down receptions the Aggies have pulled in this season, 17 of them have been money plays. Further, 7 of those 17 third-down, money-play catches have been touchdowns.
As for wide receiver-phenom Mike Evans, 24 of his 28 total catches this year have been money plays.
Again, meaning that 85.7-percent of the time he’s made a catch (regardless of the down), he’s picked up a first down or touchdown. That’s a pretty lethal statistic.
Not only will an Ole Miss defense allowing opposing offenses to convert on third-down 41-percent of the time be tested against A&M, but it’ll also have to know where Evans is at all times. If not, he’s capable of making the Rebels pay dearly throughout the night.
Aggies Offense Efficient , Especially Early
Under Kevin Sumlin, the Aggies have scored first in 17 of 18 games.
Further, on opening offensive series, Texas A&M has scored 15 of 18 times under Sumlin. Of the 15 opening drive scores, Johnny Football has helped lead the Aggies to touchdowns 14 times.
Against a team that’s put up 40-plus points against every opponent in 2013, including the Crimson Tide, the Rebels simply can’t afford to work from behind throughout the night. Particularly knowing how poorly the Rebels have fared over second quarters this season, having been outscored by a combined 50-20.
When the Rebels haven’t scored first this year, they’re 0-2.
However, they’re 3-0 when putting points on the board before opponents.
In a game which will feature two offensive-minded clubs, the team winning the coin toss is likely to receive the ball first. It’ll be vital to Ole Miss’ chance at the upset to strike first.
Rebels Forcing Fumbles, Picking off Passes
As sluggish as the Ole Miss offense has been recently, the defense has played well.
While the defensive unit will without question face its toughest challenge all season against quarterback Johnny Manziel and the A&M offense, it enters the game allowing a respectable 361.4 YPG.
Five games into the year, the Texas A&M offense has fumbled the ball six times and thrown four picks.
Conversely, the Ole Miss D has forced 10 fumbles and hauled in 4 interceptions of its own.
DE Channing Ward and FS Cody Prewitt are tied for first in the SEC in forced fumbles per game (0.4). Further, Prewitt is tied in the conference in passes defended per outing (1.6) and tied for second in interceptions per contest (0.6). Both are playing quality football entering this weekend.
As fast and efficient an offensive as Sumlin runs, there are going to be a few mistakes here and there.
Against Alabama, the Tide put the ball on the grass three times. However, the Rebels failed to successfully recover a single one of them. That can’t happen against the Aggies.
If the Ole Miss defense sees opportunities on Saturday night, it must seize every one of them.