After a cruising victory over the New Mexico State Aggies 52-3, the Rebels will head about an hour north where they will face the well-rested Memphis Tigers coming off of a bye week. This could turn into a shootout on ABC as the Rebels are averaging 46.8 points per game while the Memphis Tigers average a point more at 47.8. The difference between these two teams has to be the defense as Ole Miss is giving up an average of 19.7 points per game which is about a touchdown less than Memphis is allowing.
Chad Kelly leads the SEC in many different categories including passing yards, touchdowns and yards per completion. Kelly is gaining an average of about 15 yards per play while the Memphis defense is giving up an average of 13 yards per completion. That is not a positive statistic to look at if you are a Memphis fan. The Tigers defense is also giving up around 305 yards a game to quarterbacks, and the quarterbacks they faced have been statistically average with the exception of Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson who is second in passing yards this season. This week they will be hit with probably the best quarterback in the SEC. A quarterback of Kelly’s caliber should have a big day with his receivers.
The leading rusher on this Ole Miss offense is Jaylen Walton with 292 yards on the season through just five games since he missed last week against New Mexico State. Gaining a slim 58.4 yards per game, Walton hasn’t made Coach Freeze step away from running the football. To add to that, Memphis is giving up just 131.6 yards on the ground which will make it even tougher to run the football.
If Chad Kelly has a big day this Saturday, the result will be huge performances from at least one but most likely several of the receivers. Laquon Treadwell looks like he is back to normal. He assured us fans of that in his last week’s performance with eight receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown.
While Treadwell had the big game last weekend, Cody Core and Quincy Adeboyejo were noticeably quiet. These two along with Treadwell are poised for a big game against a defense that had to replace eight starters: three at linebacker, three at defensive back and two linemen.
We could see substantial gains in receiving yards against this Tigers defense. If Evan Engram is available, he could be a big target in Kelly’s eyes hitting him on the post route in the middle of the field for chunks of positive yards.
The Rebels’ defense will face an electric Memphis offense with a great quarterback in Paxton Lynch who stands at 6’7″. This Memphis offense is averaging 335 yards through the air and has scored 12 touchdowns from the passing game. With those remarkable stats, the most impressive stat is that with all these passing numbers Paxton Lynch has yet to throw an interception.
Whether this is a shootout or not, the key to the Rebels winning this ball game is getting pressure on Paxton Lynch. Rebels cannot give him the time he needs to find the open receiver. If they can get Lynch to force some throws, their defensive backs will be ready to hand him his first interception on the season.
My Pick: Ole Miss over Memphis 44-31
Grant Daniels, a student at Oxford High School, is a sports correspondent for HottyToddy.com. Email him at email@example.com