Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: LSU heads to Oxford to take on the #12 ranked Ole Miss Rebels (5-1, 2-1 SEC) in the yearly Magnolia Bowl. Expect the crowd to be a bit more hostile on Saturday afternoon, not only because of the historical rivalry between the two schools, but also Coach O's history with the Rebels.
Rumor has it that Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin is very interested in the LSU opening and that he may try to impress by putting on a 'job interview' display for Scott Woodward on Saturday.
The Tigers have some momentum coming into the contest after last week's big 49-42 win over Florida at home. Many feel like this LSU squad will continue to play hard and with more intensity due to the announcement that their coach won't be returning next season. Sitting at 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the SEC, there's still plenty to play for.
Going into this ball game there's cause for concern for the LSU defense who didn't exactly slow down the Gators offense last week surrendering 488 total yards and 42 points, and now will face one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. The Rebels average 553 total yards and 43.67 points per game.
It's reported that Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral may not play Saturday after taking a beating last week against Tennessee while passing for 231 yards and rushing for a season high 195, but Orgeron isn't buying it. "We practiced for Matt the whole week." said Orgeron. "I know the competitor that he is. He's going to play. That's my gut feeling." Corral has completed 66.30% of his passes for 1728 yards with 14 touchdown passes with only 1 interception so far, while adding 544 yards on the ground with 8 rushing touchdowns.
If Corral ends up not playing, either freshman Luke Altmyer or John Rhys Plumlee will get the start. Both are similar style quarterbacks who are very capable of leading the offensive attack.
The Rebels average 262 yards rushing per game, with Corral as the team's leading rusher. But Ole Miss also has a dangerous three headed monster at the running back position with Henry Parrish Jr., Snoop Conner, and Jerrion Ealy. The Tigers will need to find a way to slow down the Rebels running game if they have any chance to pull out a victory.
If the Tigers can continue to run the football they way they have over the last two weeks, the chances are high that we may be looking at another fun SEC shootout. The Ole Miss defense has struggled against the run all season long and the Tigers will need to move the ball on the ground to eat up clock and keep the explosive Ole Miss offense off the field. Look for Jake Peetz to call a great balanced offensive attack again this week against the Rebels.
If Matt Corral is healthy and plays, I think this one could get ugly for the Tigers. However, if he doesn't play or tries to go not 100%, I look for this game to be a close one. I have to give the nod to the Rebels due to their speed, athleticism, Lane Kiffin's play calling, and the home field advantage....
PREDICTION: Ole Miss 49, LSU 45