Thursday, June 24, 2021

Ole Miss Will Open New Year in the Outback Bowl

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

The Ole Miss Rebels will travel to Florida to take on the No. 7 Indiana Hoosiers in the Outback Bowl on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. CST at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and can be seen on ABC.

The Outback Bowl will be the first bowl appearance for Ole Miss (4-5) under head coach Lane Kiffin, and the team’s first bowl game since the 2016 Sugar Bowl.

This season, Ole Miss broke the SEC record for total offense in conference games (562.4 ypg), besting LSU’s mark of 550.0 yards per game set last season during the Tigers’ run to a national title. The Rebels rank in the top 20 in the FBS in 10 separate categories: total offense (562.4), scoring offense (40.7), rushing offense (217.7), passing offense (344.8), passing yards per completion (14.99), team passing efficiency (183.5), completion percentage (.714), first downs offense (249), third down conversions (.504) and kick return defense (17.1).

Redshirt sophomore Matt Corral ranks No. 1 in FBS in total offense per game (384.9), No. 5 in passing yards per game (332.8), No. 6 in passing TDs (27), No. 8 in passing yards per completion (14.9) and No. 8 in passing efficiency (182.2). He needs five more yards to become just the fifth Rebel ever to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a season.

The offense has lost a couple of key players due to opt-outs prior to the LSU game as Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah have turned their focus to the NFL Draft.

Indiana (6-1) comes in with its best start since the 1993 season. The Hoosiers are averaging 358.1 yards of total offense per game, with 258 through the air and 100 yards coming on the ground. Indiana lost its starting quarterback, Michael Penix Jr., to an ACL injury in its sixth game of the year.

Defensively, the Hoosiers rank No. 1 in the FBS in both interceptions and red zone defense. Indiana also leads the country in turnovers forced per game (2.9 per game). The Hoosiers have allowed 11 or fewer points in three of its last four contests. Jamar Johnson and Jaylin Williams are both tied for fifth in the country with four interceptions on the season. Junior linebacker Micah McFadden leads the team in tackles (52), tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (5.0).  

Saturday’s game will be the first meeting between Ole Miss and Indiana on the gridiron. 

The coaches at Indiana know a lot about the Ole Miss program.

The Hoosiers’ head coach Tom Allen served as linebackers and special teams coach at Ole Miss from 2012-14. His offensive coordinator Grant Heard was a four-year letter winner for the Rebels and had two separate stints on the coaching staff. He served as an offensive graduate assistant during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, and then he coached wide receivers at Ole Miss from 2012-16. Kane Wommack, Indiana’s defensive coordinator, worked for his father and former Rebel defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, as an Ole Miss graduate assistant from 2012-2013.  Indiana’s assistant coach Jason Jones spent time on the Ole Miss staff for five seasons (2013-18) working with defensive backs and safeties. Jones also spent the 2019 season on Kiffin’s staff at FAU.

Follow @HottyToddySprts on Twitter for important updates on the Outback Bowl.