1. It's been a long time since Ole Miss came into this game as the higher ranked team. How have they handled being the favorites compared to that underdog role they've had in year's past?
The Rebels not only sport a 7-0 record, they are 7-0 against the spread, whether favored or underdogs. This team has shown a lot of good qualities to this point, but perhaps their greatest attribute has been their ability to approach each game the same, even-keeled way. That stems from having good leadership in the older players and abiding by Coach Hugh Freeze’s mantra of “win the day.” They never seem to get too high or too low, regardless of the circumstances and, thus far, that has served them well.
2. LSU has never really seen "Bad Bo" considering how well he's played against them the last two years. What's led to that success against the Tigers and can he do it again in Death Valley? How has he managed to be more consistent this season?
The “Good Bo-Bad Bo” narrative was created by the media and was entirely unfounded on results. When Wallace has been given time to operate, he has performed well. When he has not had time, he has not performed well – the same as any quarterback anywhere. He has been protected – for the most part – this season and the coaches have been more selective in when they have gone to the tempo offense. When they went tempo most all of the time his first two years, there were times he would make bad decisions. The third, and most important factor, is that this is the first year since he has been at Ole Miss that he has been healthy and full speed.
3. Ole Miss had lost three straight games before last year's victory against LSU. Since then, the Rebels are 11-2. How much of a turning point was that win for this program?
The 27-24 last-second win over LSU was huge for the Rebels last year and for the program moving forward. The Tigers were ranked 6th in the nation at the time – elite territory. To be able to knock off a Top 10 program gave a young team the knowledge that they could beat anyone if they put that type of effort into each day, each week and each game. It was a giant springboard in terms of confidence, not only for last year, but for moving forward.
4. LSU will do its best to move the ball on the ground, even though that'll mean going right at the strength of Ole Miss' defense. If it's even possible, how can the Tigers manage to establish their run game against the Rebels?
To this point, that has been the $64,000 question for the Rebs’ opposition. Nobody, not even Alabama, has been able to consistently run on this defense. The only team that has had much success, BYU, caught them the first game of the season, had a terrific back and set up the run with the pass, so maybe that is the formula.
5. Mississippi State and Auburn took advantage of LSU's biggest defensive weakness by exploiting them with the power run game up the middle. Though the Tigers have improved the last two weeks, neither Florida nor Kentucky were really equipped to test them there. Is the Ole Miss offense built to challenge LSU in that way, and how will they attack the Tigers offensively?
The Ole Miss coaches have been able to successfully devise a new plan each week that has worked. What they will try to do this week will not be unveiled until Saturday, but one thing is certain – they will try to maintain balance between the run and the pass. While their run game has been average, it has at least kept defenses honest and that is the goal, make the opposing defense respect the run, at the very least. They have refused, even when the run game was doing very little, to become one-dimensional. As long as they are within striking distance on the scoreboard, they will most likely continue with that mindset.
Know Your Foe: Ole Miss
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