Ole Miss returns to the field on Saturday for its most compelling game of the season to date: a road tilt against the University of California, currently sitting at 2-0.
Led by quarterback Shea Patterson, the Rebels have gotten off to a nice start in 2017 with a pair of wins against South Alabama and UT-Martin. While those obviously aren’t headliner opponents, Ole Miss has done a nice job of putting those teams away fairly easily.
Cal, meanwhile, opened its season with a surprising victory at North Carolina. They followed that up by beating Weber State.
Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup between the Rebels and Bears.
Ole Miss football vs California football live updates, score
Which TV channel is Ole Miss football vs. California football on?
The Ole Miss football game against California football will air on ESPN.
How can I watch Ole Miss football vs. California football online?
You can watch Ole Miss football vs. California football on WatchESPN.
How can I listen to Ole Miss football vs. California football on the radio?
Ole Miss football vs. California football preview, keys to the game
1. Can Shea Patterson keep up the pace?
The Rebels’ gunslinger has gotten off to a hot start, averaging a nation-leading 459 passing yards per game. His 489 yards against Tennessee-Martin last Saturday set a single-game school record, breaking Chad Kelly’s mark of 465. Meanwhile, Patterson’s 9 TDs through the air is tied with UCLA’s Josh Rosen for the FBS lead. However, the sophomore quarterback has racked up those numbers against a school from the Sun Belt (South Alabama) and a team from the FCS’s Ohio Valley Conference (Tennessee-Martin). The Golden Bears are certainly a step up in competition. Still, Patterson has plenty of weapons, namely sophomore WR A.J. Brown, that have to be defended.
2. Can Ole Miss protect the ball?
California forced three turnovers in each of its first two games. The Golden Bears’ three takeaways against the Tar Heels were critical in pulling out a huge 35-30 victory on the road. Ole Miss hasn’t had any major concerns giving it away, with only a fumble and an interception lost through the first two contests. Still, giving the Bears a short field in their own backyard in this sort of game could mean the difference between a win and a loss, and no other Power 5 school has produced more turnovers than Cal so far during this young season.
3. How do the Rebels fare out West?
Not only does this game send Ole Miss to the opposite side of the country, it pits the school against an unfamiliar conference. In fact, this will be the first time that the Rebels even face a current member of the Pac-12. Taking on a talented team so far from home won’t be easy, and California will be making itself feel very comfortable in Memorial Stadium as this will be the first of three straight home games for the Bears. On the other hand, while Ole Miss will be in unfamiliar territory, Cal hasn’t gotten a taste of SEC football very much since the turn of the century. Cal’s only matchups against the SEC came against Tennessee in back-to-back seasons in 2006-07, splitting those two games.