The LSU/Ole Miss game doesn’t mean quite as much as it used to when the two schools considered this a rivalry.
Hugh Freeze leads the Rebel resurgence
Still, whenever the Tiger and Rebels meet on the gridiron, it means a lot to both sides with all of the history involved in their previous 101 meetings.
Ole Miss enters the contest with a 5-5 record and is 2-4 in the conference under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze.
Year one under Freeze gives Rebel fans a reason for optimism after they saw Houston Nutt go 7-18 in his last two years in Oxford, which included only one SEC win in 16 games.
Granted Ole Miss’ three wins out of conference over Central Arkansas, UTEP and Tulane aren’t overly impressive. And the Rebels’ two SEC victories over Auburn and Arkansas do not carry the same weight that they would a year ago.
Add in the two straight losses, including a 27-26 setback at home to Vanderbilt on Saturday, and the Rebels will be big underdogs when they travel to Tiger Stadium for the 2:30 p.m. kick.
The Ole Miss offense comes in ranked seventh in the league in scoring offense (29.5 ppg). The Rebels are ranked one spot ahead of LSU in total offense at sixth (413.2 ypg), and are seventh in rushing (165.6 ypg) and fifth in passing (247.6 ypg).
Bo Wallace, who is a threat running and passing, has developed as the season has gone on and he is coming off a career-high 403 yards passing in the loss to Vandy.
On the year, the sophomore signal caller has completed 183-of-279 passes for 2,239 yards. What’s hurt Wallace and the Rebel offense is he’s thrown 10 interceptions against a dozen touchdowns.
Wallace’s top target is Donte Moncrief (47-614-5 TDs), and four other receivers have 20 or more catches on the season in Vince Sanders (29-337-2 TDs), Ja-Mes Morgan (32-392), Korvic Neat (23-244) and former Bastrop, La. product Randall Mackey (20-274).
The Rebel run game is led by Jeff Scott, who has missed a couple of games, but is a big-play threat with his speed and quickness.
Scott has rushed for 680 yards and six touchdowns, and is followed by Wallace, who has carried the ball just 39 fewer times and has 269 yards and six touchdowns when you factor in the 165 yards he has lost on sacks.
Ole Miss has had more than its share of struggles on the other side of the ball and it comes in ranked 10th in the SEC in scoring defense (27.7 ppg) and total defense (386 ypg). The Rebels are also ranked No. 9 and 11 in run defense (143.7 ypg) and pass defense (242.3 ypg), respectively.
Cody Prewitt and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche lead the Rebels in tackles with 67 and 66, respectively, and as a team Ole Miss has logged three more sacks on the year than LSU has with a 29-26 edge.
This game is big for both sides as LSU looks to improve its standing in the bowl pecking order, while Ole Miss needs a win in one of its final two games to become bowl eligible.