At least in their starting lineup, the Rebels go for a speed-over-size approach. And that's worked out so far, with the Rebels limiting opposing ball carriers to 2.1 yards per carry. But Ole Miss also hasn't faced a physical running attack like the one Texas will bring. The Longhorns outweigh the Rebel defensive line starters by an average of almost 50 pounds per man. The Rebel backups are bigger, but don't bring the speed component. This is a matchup that, on paper, Texas would want to exploit.
The Rebels can be had with the pass, giving up 260 yards per game. And the Longhorns should be able to dink and dunk here and there. But if the Longhorns want to put the Rebels on their backs, Texas will have to finally hit on a deep shot. And while Marquise Goodwin is certainly an option, Davis is still the primary guy that the Longhorns look to hit deep. It's on Davis to get open, but …
David Ash, Texas quarterback, versus the Ole Miss secondary
… It's up to Ash to hit it. The Longhorn quarterback has done an outstanding job of managing the game and showing accuracy in the short-to-mid-range game. Now he needs to take the next step. When Ole Miss screams up to stop the run, the Longhorns will have to hit on something to take that pressure off. And while flinging it side-to-side going to relieve some of that, it would greatly help if Ash can hit on a deep ball or two. If he doesn't, this game could be closer than expected. If he does, Texas could roll. At this point, that's a big if.
Texas has already faced some pretty nice receivers this fall, but none with the playmaking ability of Moncrief, who could be a 1,000-yard kind of guy this season. Moncrief has a 50-plus-yard catch in each of the Rebels' two games this season. At 6-3 216, he has great size. And with the way he runs vertically, he can really cause issues for a defense. Call this the first true showdown for Byndom, arguably the top cover cornerback in the Big 12. Byndom was beaten downfield by Herron for a big play against Wyoming. Can Moncrief do the same?
Texas linebackers versus Bo Wallace, Ole Miss quarterback
Wallace, and the offense that he runs, presents a challenge for the Longhorn middle three. Come up to stop the run on a zone read, and Wallace throws it over your head. Sit back, and Wallace, or running backs Randall Mackey and Jeff Scott, can hurt you. The linebackers graded out well for their work against the option in Week Two, and Wyoming star quarterback Brett Smith never really got off the ground as a runner in Week One. So for the Longhorn 'backers thus far this year, it's so far, so good.
X-Factor: The Texas defensive line
The Longhorns do have a major advantage in facing an attack like Ole Miss: the Texas defensive line, which has been dominant so far, especially with the recent play of Desmond Jackson and Jackson Jeffcoat. When your line is on, it can erase all sorts of problems. And if the Texas defensive line can continue its run of dominant play, the Longhorns will prove difficult for Ole Miss to put up points on.
Ole Miss is an intriguing team in the future because Hugh Freeze can flat-out get after it on the recruiting trail, and because they're a young team with plenty of room to grow. But they're still probably two years away from really jumping out as an excellent team. Right now, they have enough pieces to be dangerous, but Texas is further along in its rebuilding cycle, and at this point appears to be a legitimate top-10-type team. That could change, but for now, Texas has the bulls to pull this one out, probably by a few scores.
TEXAS — 31
Ole Miss — 14