Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
It makes my skin crawl just thinking about writing this.
Mississippi has been significantly better than pretty much everyone thought. When the over/under win totals came out, it seemed like easy money to pick the Rebs to go under 5. But here they are, at 5 wins, and they very well could have more.
To start the year off, they beat Central Arkansas and UTEP. For the party of the century, however, Texas won 66-31. But they rebounded with a 39-0 win over Tulane and played Alabama tough, losing 33-14.
There are a couple games that got away in Oxford. Texas A&M turned the ball over 6 times and that allowed Ole Miss to have a 10 point lead late in the 4th. A questionable 4th down call by Freeze led to Manziel getting the ball with great field position and the rest took care of itself. Vanderbilt also escaped a 23-6 deficit to win in the closing minute.
The Bears played Georgia tough for a half, and then LSU for the entire game..but they ended up with a L on both occasions.
Hugh Freeze has done a great job with this team. While they still lack the depth of many SEC teams, their mindset and fight is a complete 180 from this time last year. With the unexpected decline of Auburn and Arkansas, Ole Miss has been able to get a couple of wins most folks didn't see in the summer. But as I mentioned in the summer, after a full season Ole Miss could be in a position to give State all they can handle...and sure enough that is what we've got.
You've seen Ole Miss play all year, so I won't attempt a scouting report, I'll just give y'all the stats...
|243.8 (54th)||Pass Off.||253.8 (49th)|
|150.7 (70th)||Rush Off.||163.9 (58th)|
|217.5 (41st)||Pass Def.||247.0 (75th)|
|159.9 (60th)||Rush Def.||142.7 (40th)|
The Ole Miss defense is 2nd in the SEC in sacks (31). The MSU offense is 2nd in sacks allowed (13). MSU is last in the SEC for opponent's 4th down conversions, Hugh Freeze has taken some chances this year on 4th down.
This is a huge game...for both teams. There is so much on the line. State has been talking trash for the last few years, and now it's time to defend the title, this time in their stadium...and they're hungry. The Bulldogs have had some trouble getting amped up and maintaining that emotional level - they'll need to find a formula that works for this game.