Inside Mizzou Breakdown: Mizzou-Ole Miss

When Missouri and Ole Miss meet tomorrow in Oxford, Mississippi, many think that this Big 12/SEC clash should have an ending similar to last year's affair, which ended in a 34-7 win for the Tigers at Faurot Field. This year's matchup could have a similar result.

After all, MU was picked to win the Big 12 North while Ole Miss was considered by many who cover the SEC on a regular basis a middle-rung team in the always-tough Western Division that includes Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas and LSU among others.

Sure, Mizzou comes off a 40-34 win over Illinois last weekend in St. Louis to open the season, but that win didn't become academic until Pig Brown intercepted an Illini pass at the goal line with less than a minute remaining.

And then there's the fact that at one point last Saturday, the Tigers had a 24-point lead only to see Illinois chip away at that lead throughout the second half. It's only one game but MU's inability to put away the Illini was distressing to say the least.

Ole Miss is also 1-0 thanks to an exciting 23-21 win over Memphis last Saturday at the Liberty Bowl. The Rebels built a 23-0 lead by halftime before the Tigers mounted a furious rally that ended when David Mouzon, who had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown last Saturday, intercepted a two-point conversion attempt late in the game that would have tied the score and likely sent it into overtime.

Both teams also had other similarities in their openers. Neither team did a very good job of running the ball last week as Missouri had just 70 yards rushing and Ole Miss registered just 74. Also, MU threw for 359 yards while allowing 316 passing yards. Ole Miss threw for 201 and allowed 343. Both teams had one touchdown apiece from their defense and special teams.

One area where MU did better than Ole Miss last week was in offensive efficiency. Chase Daniel threw for 357 yards and three scores and the Tigers added a fourth touchdown on the ground. The Rebels got just one touchdown from their offense and it came through the air.

So, if the performance of each team's defense a week ago is any indication, this one could be a shootout and since each team relies heavily on an air-based attack, the winner of Saturday's game could come down to which quarterback has a better game.

At least coming in, that edge would have to go to Daniel, who had a solid day against the Illini. He threw for three scores with no interceptions and could post similar numbers this week. Daniel's three favorite targets last week were Martin Rucker (10-86), Danario Alexander (9-82) and Chase Coffman (7-42, 1 TD).

The Rebels counter with Seth Adams at quarterback. He also had a solid week last week, throwing for 201 yards and a touchdown but for the most part, the Ole Miss offense wasn't a big factor in that win as they had just 275 total yards. Ole Miss' receiving corps includes sophomores Marshawn Green and Sam Hodge plus junior Mike Wallace.

Saturday's game should have lots of passing and given the state of each team's defense, both MU and Ole Miss will be able to move the ball through the air. But the x-factor in this game could come on the ground, where a pair of 1,000-yard rushers will square off.

Missouri's Tony Temple, the top returning rusher in the Big 12, comes off a week where he had just 33 yards rushing against Illinois. He could be ripe for a breakout performance against an Ole Miss defense that last week allowed 124 rushing yards against Memphis.

But the MU defense could also have their hands full as the Ole Miss backfield is anchored by BJ Green Ellis, who last year, rushed for an even 1,000 yards and earned first-team All-SEC honors. Green Ellis had 79 yards rushing on 23 carries a week ago and should be a factor on Saturday.

There you have it, a quick look at tomorrow's Missouri/Ole Miss game. The offenses are sure to be front-and-center for this one as both teams should rack up more than their share of passing yards.

But almost lost in the shuffle is that a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Missouri's Tony Temple and Ole Miss' BJ Green Ellis, could also be big factors. While both the Tigers and Rebels are mainly passing teams, this one could be decided on the ground.

It's hard to think that Ole Miss can get a defensive and special teams touchdown for the second straight week but the same can be said about Mizzou for that matter. Either way, the Tiger offense has a much better steward in Chase Daniel and should prevail on that fact alone. But this one won't be as easy as many think it should be. Missouri 35 Ole Miss 24.

Black & Gold Illustrated Top Stories