Ed Orgeron was already a despised man in Oxford. Then he let slip a line that the Rebels will try to hold over his head on Saturday night.
“The truth is, the whole time I was there [Ole Miss], I was wishing I were here [LSU],” Orgeron told ESPN.com’s Chris Low last weekend. Coach O spent three mostly miserable seasons as Mississippi’s coach from 2005-07. This weekend, he makes his return to Oxford as coach of the team he apparently wanted to leave for a decade ago.
Along with Hans Heiserer, I broke down LSU-Ole Miss and the Week 8 schedule on Bud Light’s Predictions Among Friends, which you can view here. This post is an in-depth look at this coming weekend.
No. 24 LSU at Ole Miss
Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Who’s ready for a letdown??? That’d be Louisiana State, which just earned two consecutive emotional victories and gave Ole Miss some bulletin-board material to boot. Even if Ed Orgeron had not made his weird comment, the Tigers would be in a precarious position this weekend. There’s really nothing to love about LSU at the moment; the offense was bailed out by special teams against Auburn, while the defense benefited from some boneheaded scheming by the opposition.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss’ passing offense kicked into full gear against Vanderbilt. Sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson is on pace for more than 4,000 yards this season, while star wideout A.J. Brown is among the nation’s leaders in receiving yards. There’s nothing consistent about the Rebels, but an upset of LSU doesn’t require an amazing game. The Tigers are out of gas. The pick: Ole Miss.
No. 21 Auburn at Arkansas
Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
At the moment, Arkansas doesn’t seem capable of lifting a finger against opposing offenses, so expect the Auburn “O” to get back on track in Fayetteville. All the Tigers need to do is follow the formula that led to their first five wins: suffocate the opposition with strong defense, and pound the rock with Kerryon Johnson.
Neither of those things should be particularly challenging on Saturday. Bret Bielema’s offense is in rough shape, and the Razorbacks have allowed at least 131 rushing yards in their last eight games vs. Power 5 opponents. The pick: Auburn.
Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama
Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Much has been made of the 35-point spread in this game, but it feels like that number should be higher. Remember last season, when Tennessee actually had a formidable football team? Alabama went into Knoxville and won by 39. The Tide has defeated the Vols by 14 points or more eight times since the beginning of the Nick Saban era in 2007.
And no, Saban is not thinking about how another blowout win for Alabama might affect Butch Jones’ job status. He’s too busy convincing himself and his team that UT is an actual, real-life threat. It’s going to get really, really ugly on Saturday. The pick: Alabama.
Kentucky at Mississippi State
Saturday at 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Both these teams want to establish the run, and whichever one can build an early lead will have a big edge. Mississippi State is especially adept at playing downhill; the Bulldogs have a killer instinct when they can stay within their game plan and let Nick Fitzgerald run wild.
Kentucky, which still somehow controls its championship destiny, is a solid team with a good defense. But I don’t think the Wildcats will have the firepower to match scores with a streaky Bulldogs offense. Home-field advantage will make the difference in Starkvegas. The pick: Mississippi State.
Idaho at Missouri
Saturday at Noon ET (SEC Network)
Two important things to consider: Idaho is better than you think it is, and Missouri is worse than you think it is. That combination should result in some stress for the homecoming crowd Saturday, but the rejuvenated Tigers offense will make enough big plays to pull away in the second half. The pick: Missouri.
How do you see the games playing out this weekend? Let us know in the comments section below.