Folks in Memphis are pegging Saturday’s contest between No. 13 Ole Miss and the Tigers as the biggest in school history.
Memphis has won 12 straight games, dating back to Oct. 11 of last year, and the Tigers have a dynamic gamechanger at quarterback in Paxton Lynch leading one of the nation’s hottest offenses. Ole Miss, on the other hand, still has national championship aspirations, and a marquee game against Texas A&M next week could be on the horizon.
No matter which way you look at this game, it should be filled with drama.
Let’s take a look at the matchup:
No. 13 Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1 SEC) at Memphis (5-0, 2-0 AAC)
Kickoff time: Saturday, Noon ET (ABC/ESPN2)
Weather: 60 degrees, Sunny, 0 percent chance of rain, 11 MPH wind from the northeast
Line: Ole Miss -10.5 points.
Series record: Ole Miss leads 48-10-2
By The Numbers
- 47.27 – Ole Miss and Memphis have combined to average 47.27 points per game this season. The Tigers are fourth nationally, averaging 47.8 points per game, while the Rebels are fifth at 46.8 points per game.
- 1 – This is the first time in Memphis’ history the Tigers will play a ranked opponent as a ranked team. Memphis is No. 22 in the coaches’ poll.
Storylines To Watch
- Chad Kelly vs. Paxton Lynch: If you want to watch a battle between two ultra-talented quarterbacks, this is the game for you. Kelly is ranked 12th nationally, averaging 310.3 passing yards per game, and Lynch is 14th at 307 passing yards per game. Lynch is third nationally in quarterback rating (181.47), and Kelly 12th (166.81). For the season, Kelly has 18 total touchdowns and five interceptions, while Lynch has totaled 11 touchdowns and thrown no interceptions. The winner of this game could come down to which signal caller plays the best.
- Defensive Struggles: Memphis has been awful defensively this season, as the Tigers have given up 438.4 yards per game, including 306.8 yards through the air. That doesn’t bode well for a unit having to face Kelly. Ole Miss has given up 337.5 yards per game and ranks in the middle of the pack in the SEC in just about every statistical category. However, in their two games against ranked opponents this season, the Rebels have given up 43 and 38 points, respectively.
- Third Downs: Ole Miss’ biggest defensive issues have come because of its struggles defending third downs. The Rebels have allowed opponents to convert third downs 39.81 percent of the time. Coach Hugh Freeze made the call last week to move Mike Hilton from safety to the Rebels’ hybrid linebacker/safety position to replace Tony Conner, who is out with a meniscus tear. The move seemed to make a difference in the Rebels’ 52-3 win over New Mexico State. Obviously, the competition wasn’t great, and Ole Miss will really be tested Saturday. If they can get off the field consistently on third down, the Rebels should be in good shape to walk away with the win.
My prediction: No. 13 Ole Miss 45, Memphis 30