PREVIEW: LSU vs. Ole Miss

Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty, when's Ole Miss gonna beat somebody?

To say the 2007 season has been a catastrophe for the Ole Miss Rebels would be an understatement, somewhere on the same level as saying "Notre Dame has room for improvement."

The Rebels have just three wins all year – against 5-5 Memphis (by two), 4-6 Louisiana Tech (by 24), and 3-7, I-AA Northwestern State (by seven).

Notice anything missing there? How about a conference win? Ole Miss is 0-6 in the SEC, the first time they have been winless this late in the season since 1982. That team, Steve Sloan's last as head coach, failed to win a single conference game, losing to Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Vanderbilt, LSU, Tennessee, and Mississippi State.

This year, things are just as bleak. And while current head coach Ed Orgeron isn't on the hot seat in Oxford, the temperature is beginning to rise. Vanderbilt beat them by 14, Florida by six, Georgia by 28, Alabama by three, Arkansas by 36, and Auburn by 14.

Their average margin of defeat in conference games is a shade under 17 points, and the fact that they have the SEC's least-potent offense at 20.3 points per game isn't helping them cut into opponents' leads. They also rank dead-last in the conference in pass efficiency defense, total defense, scoring defense, punt returns, and turnover margin. And they're either second-to-last or third-to-last in rushing offense, rushing defense, pass defense, and sacks allowed.

Who the hell are we? Indeed.

It's safe to say there will be no repeats of "Rebel Run: Ole Miss' Magical Season of 2003," the book written after the Rebels finished in a three-way tie for first in the SEC West in 2003 but watched divisional rival LSU go to the championship game, win the SEC, and then defeat Oklahoma for the national championship.

Then-head coach David Cutcliffe was fired a year later after a 4-7 season, and Orgeron was hired after spending five years as the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Southern California. Since then, Ole Miss has won 30 percent of its games, going 3-8 in 2005, 4-8 in 2006, and 3-7 so far in 2007 and was called "lower than dirt" by Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo after trying to poach Tulane players following Hurricane Katrina.

It should be noted that the SEC cleared Orgeron and the Rebels of any wrongdoing, despite Scelfo's additional claim that, "There's people in this business who do not belong in this business" – so at least something has gone right for them.

A quick look at Ole Miss' current roster reveals exactly three players who have been performing at an All-SEC level in 2007. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis isn't just the man with the clunkiest name in the conference; he's also the nation's 35th-ranked rusher at 96.90 yards per game. Defensive end Greg Harvey, SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after the Alabama loss, leads the conference in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (16) but has missed the last two games due to suspension. Rounding out the trio is junior offensive lineman Michael Oher, who was named to the Mid-Season All America first team by The Sporting News.

Green-Ellis is 33 yards shy of 1,000 in 2007, gaining 967 on 189 carries with five touchdowns. Bruce Hall, with 216 yards on 47 carries, is the only other Rebel with double-digit total yardage all year. Marshay Green is the team's third leading rusher with eight yards on four carries.

Mike Wallace is the leading receiver with 707 yards on 37 receptions for a 70.7 yards-per-game average while also leading the Rebels with six touchdowns. Shay Hodge, with 474 yards and four touchdowns, and Dexter McCluster, with 239 yards and two touchdowns, round out the receiving threat.

Seth Adams and Brent Schaeffer have both seen time under center, with Adams serving as the clear-cut starter while Schaeffer has been relegated to occasional cameo appearances. Adams has completed 159 of 286 pass attempts for 1,922 yards with 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, while Schaeffer has added 255 yards, three touchdowns, and one pick in four appearances.

On defense, as on offense, highlights are few and far between.

Defensive back Dustin Mouzon leads the Rebels in interceptions – with two.

Defensive lineman Peria Jerry leads the team in fumble recoveries – with one.

If anyone is wondering why Ole Miss is minus-6 in turnovers, there's your answer.

The Rebels do boast four of the SEC's top 11 tacklers, led by linebacker Ashlee Palmer in third place with 80, but that is a natural by-product of the amount of time opposing offenses spend on the field than any technical superiority.

Kicker Joshua Shene is the team's leading scorer with 49 points, converting 19 of 20 PAT attempts and 10 of 15 field goal tries. Shene has a good leg and is 2-of-4 from beyond 40 yards with a long of 51. Justin Sparks handles the punting duties and kicks for a 40.2 yard average with three touchbacks, 10 inside the 20, and a long of 55.

In short, there isn't anything Ole Miss does well – beyond producing well-dressed tailgaters. Outside of tackles for loss (T-31) and kickoff returns (40), their highest national ranking in any category is 68th in passing offense. They have the 35th-best runner in football in Green-Ellis yet are ranked 98th in rushing offense. As a team, they are ranked 83rd overall according to the latest Sagarin rankings, sandwiched between James Madison and Bowling Green and well behind in-state rival Mississippi State at 47.

Flim-flam, bim-bam, that's Ole Miss, by damn.


Head to Head:

Ole Miss QB vs. LSU DT

Seth Adams vs. Glenn Dorsey

They are calling Glenn Dorsey the best non-skill position player in the country.'s Mel Kiper says, "Disruptive force along the interior. If there is one non-skill position player fans should watch, Dorsey is the one because, despite constant double-teams, he is always making plays or opening up space for his teammates." Kiper ranks Dorsey on his list of top NFL prospects in college football. Dorsey is third on the team with 53 tackles and leads the Tigers with 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Ole Miss quarterback Seth Adams is likely in for a long day.

Ole Miss WR vs. LSU SS

Mike Wallace vs. Craig Steltz

Craig Steltz is widely regarded as one of college football's hardest hitting safeties, and he has proven this time and again. However, Steltz has given up some passing yards to LSU's last few opponents and will be going up against a talented wide receiver in Ole Miss' Mike Wallace. Wallace has 37 catches for 707 yards and six touchdowns this season. Watch to see if Steltz can create any early collisions to make Wallace think twice about testing the middle of the field.


Player to Watch:

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

RB, Senior

5-11, 225

New Orleans, La.

St. Augustine HS

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is by far the best player on this Ole Miss team. A seasoned, veteran back, Green-Ellis is a big back that combines size (5-11, 225) with impressive speed. A New Orleans native, Green-Ellis rushed for 1,000 yards a year ago and should eclipse the 1,000-yard mark again this season. Green-Ellis needs only 33 yards to reach 1,000. He currently has run for 967 yards on 159 carries and has scored five touchdowns. Green-Ellis currently ranks fourth in the Southeastern Conference and 35th in the nation in rushing yards per game, averaging 96.7 yards per game.


LSU rushing offense vs. Ole Miss rushing defense

The LSU Tigers continue to pile up the rushing numbers. Against Louisiana Tech, the Tigers rolled up 321 rushing yards led by Jacob Hester's 115 yards on 11 carries. On the season, the Tigers rank 13th in Division I-A with 220 rushing yards per game. This is not a good thing for Ole Miss. Repeat: not good for the Rebels. Ole Miss is allowing an SEC-worst 208 rushing yards per game – that's 104th nationally. Look for the Tigers to gouge the heart of the Rebel defense for huge gains all day long.

Advantage: LSU

LSU passing offense vs. Ole Miss passing defense

Several weeks ago, some national analysts were calling Matt Flynn an average quarterback. Then Flynn produces back-to-back career-high performances with two straight 300-yard outings against Auburn and Alabama. He has thrown plenty of interceptions – 10 to be exact – but his receivers are holding onto the ball a lot more often and the LSU passing attack is looking much improved. LSU is 53rd in the nation in passing offense, averaging 235 yards per game; but compared to Ole Miss' defense, which gives up 233 each game (71st), the Tigers should throw it whenever they'd like.

Advantage: LSU

Ole Miss rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense

The nation's leading rusher was held to a mere 70 yards against the LSU defense. That would be Tulane's Matt Forte in a 34-9 loss to the Tigers six weeks ago. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is one of the SEC's best running backs (fourth overall) and ranks 35th in the nation, averaging over 95 yards per game. But the New Orleans-St. Augustine product hasn't faced a defense of LSU's caliber, which is surrendering just 66 yards per game. The Rebels run for 218 yards per game, but they won't this week.

Advantage: LSU

Ole Miss passing offense vs. LSU passing defense

The Rebel passing attack is the most favorable area of this Ole Miss team – statistically, that is. The Rebels rank 68th in the nation, averaging 218 yards per game. Quarterback Seth Adams has completed 159 of 286 passes for 1,922 yards, 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Adams has several quality receivers to throw to, including Mike Wallace (37 catches, 707 yards, 6 TDs) and Shay Hodge (37, 474, 4). However, the Tiger defense is holding opponents to 170 yards per game – that's sixth nationally – and is No. 1 overall in pass efficiency defense.

Advantage: LSU

LSU special teams vs. Ole Miss special teams

Colt David is a superstar. The LSU kicker is well on his way to shattering all of LSU's single-season scoring records. David's 16 points against La. Tech gives the junior kicker 111 points this season, moving him into second place on LSU's single-season points list. Alabama running back Shaun Alexander holds the SEC record for points in a season with 144. David needs 33 more points to tie Alexander, which equates to an average of 8.25 points per game over the Tigers' next four games.

Advantage: LSU


This is totally in Ole Miss' favor. The Rebels season is practically over. Ole Miss is the only SEC team with a losing record, has no chance of a bowl game, and is likely going to lose its annual rivalry game with Miss. State as well. All the Rebels can do now is try and make positive things happen and help affect recruiting. However, Coach Ed Orgeron and his team can take solace in the fact that they could spoil LSU's national championship hopes with an upset. Plus, toss in the fact that the Rebels play the Tigers close almost every season, and Ole Miss is in the perfect spoiler role on Saturday.

Advantage: Ole Miss

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