Saturday will be an emotional day for some of our favorite Rebels as they will come out in front of over 60,000 fans to be recognized as seniors. This will be their last Walk of Champions, their last time “Locking the Vaught” with Rebel Nation, and their last time playing on Jerry Hollingsworth Field.
This weekend, the Ole Miss Rebels, ranked 22nd in the CFP ranking, will face off against the 15th ranked LSU Tigers in a prime time game on CBS. Both of these teams are coming into this ball game following home losses to Arkansas. Ole Miss is scoring around 41 points per game and giving up 23 points per game. On the other side, LSU is scoring 34 points a game while giving up 24 points a game.
The quarterbacks’ plays will definitely be a factor in this game. Chad Kelly will have to be the competitive player we know he is. Against Arkansas, Kelly accounted for six total touchdowns and over 450 total yards of offense. Kelly has thrown for 3,224 yards which is 500 yards more than any other quarterback in the conference. Kelly has also tossed 23 touchdowns and ran for seven touchdowns, but he has thrown 12 interceptions. Kelly will be going up against this LSU defense for the first time in his career. He will need protection against the explosive play of Tigers’ defensive end, Lewis Neal. The Tigers’ defense has only allowed two quarterbacks this season to throw for over 300 yards while Kelly has thrown for over 300 yards in seven out of ten games.
The Ole Miss running game has been an up-and-down rollercoaster this season, having had highlight moments against Texas A&M and Auburn, but struggled against Memphis and Florida. If Rebels can run for over 150 yards as a team, then they have a pretty favorable chance of winning this game with Hugh Freeze earning a record of 26-3 when the Ole Miss offense runs for over 150 yards.
Laquon Treadwell will be unquestionably the best receiver on the field from both of these teams come Saturday. Treadwell has 68 receptions which is just under 40 more than LSU’s leading receiver Malachi Dupre. LSU has a good secondary, and if I had to guess who would be on Laquon Treadwell, I would say the junior Tre’Davious White. White stands at just 5’11 so that poses a matchup threat that goes in the Rebels’ favor.
The Ole Miss defense will be hit hard with a former Heisman front runner, Leonard Fournette. He is coming off of a couple of frustating performances against Alabama and Arkansas in which he didn’t go over 100 yards in either game. Ole Miss has already faced a Heisman front runner in Derrick Henry of Alabama. In that game, Henry ran for 127 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown, and the Rebels won by six. If they can hold Fournette to under 100 yards and force Brandon Harris to throw the ball, I believe that will increase the odds in winning a game where the FPI says Ole Miss has a 65 percent chance to win.
The key to a Rebel win is centered on the running aspect of the game. As I pointed out earlier, Hugh Freeze is winning 90 percent of his games when the offense runs for over 150 yards. Ole Miss needs to be able to open up some lanes to keep things going north and south for its running backs.
Rebels also have to stop the run, taking note that the LSU offense struggles when Fournette does not gain over 100 yards. In the only two games he hasn’t gone over 100 yards, LSU has recorded a loss.
My Pick: Ole Miss over LSU 31-23
Grant Daniels, a student at Oxford High School, is a sports correspondent for HottyToddy.com. Email him at email@example.com