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Game Preview: LSU vs. Ole Miss

Tiger Blitz previews LSU's SEC matchup against rival Ole Miss on Saturday night in Death Valley with predictions, matchups to watch, game notes, and more!

WHEN: Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 8:15 pm CT 
WHERE: Tiger Stadium – Baton Rouge, LA 
TV: ESPN 
SERIES: LSU leads 59-41-4
LAST MEETING: LSU lost 38-17 in Oxford
WEATHER: High of 77, Low of 48, 0% chance of rain.
LINE: LSU -5.5
OVER/UNDER: 60.5

Tiger Trends

LSU has had two record setting days on offense under Ed Orgeron as the interim head coach and now gets its stud running back Leonard Fournette back healthy. Wow. That's scary for a lot of teams to think about, but following a second half explosion against Southern Miss, LSU comes into this one 2-0 under Orgeron. The Tigers shot themselves in the foot too many times against the Golden Eagles on offense in the first half, but corrected the mental errors to roll to average over 10 yards per play on offense and roll to a 45-10 win.

The LSU defense comes in allowing the least touchdowns in the country (six) and outside of an early score by Southern Miss, dominated the Golden Eagles for most of the game, shutting them out in the second half. LSU's defensive line has been down right scary this season and with Ed Alexander coming on behind Greg Gilmore in the middle, will give the Rebels fits.

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Scouting Ole Miss

The Rebels come into Tiger Stadium for a game that before the season, would have likely been billed as potentially two undefeated programs coming to battle, but that's not the case. The Rebels arguably have seen the worse of the two sides. Ole Miss dropped its last matchup to Arkansas 34-30 and now are way behind in the race for the SEC West at 3-3 overall and 1-2 in SEC play. The Rebels have been up and down this season and due to penalties, poor defense and turnovers, are in the position they're in. 

Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, but has been turnover prone at times while having to shoulder more of the load for his team this season. He'll look to get the ball to his top targets like Evan Engram, who is a hybrid tight end/wide receiver that Ole Miss moves all over the formations, as well as wide receiver Demore’ea Stringfellow to name his favorite target.

Defensively, the linebacking corps is extremely young and Ole Miss is one of the worst teams in the country at stopping the run because of it. Defensive end Marquis Haynes and defensive tackle D.J. Jones are the two playmakers along the Landshark defensive line as they're called. The pair just hasn't gotten the support behind them to stop the run. Look for LSU to exploit that and capitalize.

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Matchup to Watch

Evan Engram vs. LSU Secondary: Engram is one of the most versatile, weapons in the country and the Rebels get him the ball in multiple ways. LSU has to control Engram's release at the line of scrimmage and to do so, safety Jamal Adams will be the best matchup there. One source told Tiger Blitz to expect multiple players to match up against Engram as you can't let teams gameplan and make adjustments against one defender. Change it up, but Engram's ability to break the big play will need to be controlled by LSU. The Tigers need to force Kelly off his reads towards Engram and look elsewhere. If Kelly can force other playmakers to step up, it might mean Kelly has to take more risks. 

Murf Baldwin

Keys to the Game

Control the clock. Keeping the ball out of the hands of this explosive offense will be key for the Tigers to wear down this Ole Miss defense. Steve Ensminger and the staff want LSU to be explosive while still running the football extremely well, but time of possession is even more important this week to keep LSU's defense fresh. The Tigers like to come out throwing now to set up the run, but LSU might not even have to. Ole Miss' run defense is that bad. Pound the rock, keep it away from Kelly.

Contain Chad Kelly. Kelly is going to get his stats in this game a little bit, but by containing him in the pocket, LSU will force him to really go through his reads. From there, LSU's defensive line can collapse the pocket. This is where LSU defensive coordinator has the chance to live up to his billing as a scientist. Expect a lot of different pressures for this one. You know Aranda was game planning for Kelly over the open date left by the postponed Florida game. 

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What to Watch For

When LSU is on Offense: How does LSU get Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice on the field at the same time? Ed Orgeron alluded to this plan at his press conference and it appears the Tigers are set to implement it. That's just another example of the creativity Tiger fans will see under Orgeron and Ensminger.

When LSU is on Defense: LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda got an extra weekend to look ahead at this game and I'd imagine has something coming for this Ole Miss offense. Aranda is known for his disguises and getting the defense to confuse opposing quarterbacks and offensive line.

When Ole Miss is on Offense: Tempo, tempo, tempo. While LSU defensive lineman Greg Gilmore called Missouri the fastest team the Tigers have faced since he's been in Baton Rouge, Ole Miss will challenge to be faster. Dan Werner and Freeze like to keep their foot on the gas. Ole Miss doesn't have a great rushing attack, but it's one of the most creative offenses in the country. It'll be fun to watch at least.

When Ole Miss is on Defense: The linebackers are very young for Ole Miss and LSU has the best backfield in college football right now. The young backers are going to have to step up in a big way for the defense that ranks second to last in the SEC in rush defense (last before Alabama ran all over the Vols). If those linebackers can fill holes and make tackles, LSU might struggle to run the ball with the same success its seen the past two games. That's a tall order though. 

Tiger Blitz Predictions

Billy: The Tigers need this game as a statement game to the rest of the SEC that Ed Orgeron and staff isn't here to mess around. What? Two back-to-back record-setting offensive performances didn't do that? That was Missouri and Southern Miss. This is Ole Miss. It just means more (get it?) I think LSU will have a few things coming the Rebels' way that will be too much to handle. Namely, Fournette, Guice and Key. The pair of backs combine for a ton of yardage and LSU's defense contains the up-and-down Rebels ... LSU 31, Ole Miss 14

Randy: So many memories and themes when LSU and Ole Miss meet, but of late, the main story line has been how well talented Rebels’ teams have fared against the Tigers. That talent is still there for both teams, but this edition of the series tilts towards LSU because 1) The game is at Tiger Stadium; and 2) the matchups lean LSU’s way more than the last few years. Most notably, the Tigers’ defense is built to contain the Rebels and Chad Kelly, while Ole Miss’ porous defense will struggle to do much against the new-look LSU offense. … LSU 38, Ole Miss 24

Murf: Ole Miss' fast -- yet undersized -- front will be susceptible to LSU's counter and zone rushing attack, while its suspect pass-protection fails to allow Kelly enough time to distribute to his NFL-caliber receiving corps. Tigers take this one by pulling away in the 4th... LSU 31, Ole Miss 21

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