Ole Miss looking to avoid shootout against Memphis
If you’re a fan of touchdowns, Saturday’s contest between No. 13 Ole Miss and Memphis is one to watch. The Rebels and Tigers both enter the weekend in the top 5 nationally in scoring offense.
Ole Miss is fifth nationally and first in the SEC, averaging 46.8 points per game. Memphis is fourth nationally and first in the American Athletic Conference, averaging 47.8 points per game.
Rebel coach Hugh Freeze would obviously like to avoid getting into a shootout, but he admitted on the SEC teleconference Wednesday the possibility has certainly crossed his mind.
“You hope on your end that you can score some points that other teams have done, and I’m sure they’re hoping the same thing,” Freeze said. “Sometimes, that’s not the case in the way some games go.”
Ole Miss came into the season thinking it could lean on the play of its defense. But the Rebels have had issues on that side of the ball. In their last two game against ranked opponents, the Rebels have given up 37 and 38 points, respectively.
Saturday, Ole Miss will meet the 22nd-ranked team in the coaches’ poll — a squad with a high-powered offense run by what Freeze called “one of the better quarterbacks in the nation” in Paxton Lynch.
Lynch is third nationally in quarterback rating (181.47), and the 6-foot-7 signal caller has thrown for 1,535 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. Lynch is also fifth in the country with a 70.5 percent completion percentage.
“He manages their offense and is poised all the time, takes care of the football, uses his legs well,” Freeze said, “I think he’s one of the better ones we’ve faced in my time here to be quite candid. I’ve been really impressed with him.”
This weekend also marks Ole Miss’ first trip to Memphis since 2009. The two schools renewed the series last season.
For the Rebels, Freeze sees both positives and negatives to extending the series in the future.
“You’re playing a quality nonconference opponent,” Freeze said. “You’re local, where we’re playing a game this week where we can be home by 6 o’clock and get our kids rest. You also give an opportunity for your parents of your kids. Most of ours come within a three to four hour radius of here, and they’ll be able to make that trip fairly easily. That’s an advantage.
“Do we have more to lose than to gain? Absolutely. So, that would be the negative.”