Saturday, October 19, 2013
Five things: LSU-Ole Miss
By Greg Ostendorf
LSU and Ole Miss are headed in opposite directions. The Tigers have won two straight games since a crushing defeat to Georgia, whereas the Rebels have lost three in a row since starting the season 3-0. Les Miles and company would like to continue the current trend Saturday when LSU visits Ole Miss.
Upset alert: Ole Miss came within a hair of pulling the upset over No. 9 Texas A&M last weekend, but reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel proved to be too much. The Rebels will get another shot this Saturday when No. 6 LSU comes to town. Regardless of rankings, the Rebels tend to play well against the Tigers. Seven of the last 11 meetings between the two have been decided by a touchdown or less, including last year’s contest that saw LSU squeak by with a touchdown in the final seconds. Ole Miss gets LSU at home this time around, and the Rebels are hungry for an upset.
Rebels QB Bo Wallace torched LSU last season, accounting for 364 total yards and four touchdowns.
Slowing down Bo: The reason Ole Miss was able to hang with LSU last year had a lot to do with quarterback Bo Wallace. Despite three interceptions, Wallace threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 54 yards and two scores. Outside of the turnovers, LSU had no answer for the junior college transfer. This season, Wallace started off hot but struggled on the road at Alabama and Auburn. He returned to form last week with 301 yards passing and three touchdowns against Texas A&M. Ole Miss will need another big-time performance from him if it wants to spring an upset.
Mettenberger drought: It has been nearly five quarters since Zach Mettenberger last threw a touchdown pass. Okay, that's not much of a drought, but for a guy who has been the most-improved signal caller in the SEC this season, it's something. It wasn't that Mettenberger struggled last week against Florida, it was more that the Tigers wanted to impose their will on the ground. The LSU quarterback is still fifth in the FBS in opponent-adjusted QBR this season (90.8), a tenth of a point behind Florida State's Jameis Winston. But the game plan likely will change this week, and Mettenberger should have plenty of opportunities to end the drought.
Home-run threat: Maybe it's because of Mettenberger's improved play. Maybe it's because of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, the top wide receiver tandem in the SEC. But whatever it is, LSU has thrived on the big play this season. The Tigers have 50 plays of 20 yards or more, second most in the FBS behind Oregon (56). They had 59 such plays all of last season. That big-play ability could continue this weekend against an Ole Miss defense that gave up 587 yards to Texas A&M last week.
Injured Rebels: Ole Miss already is facing an uphill battle Saturday against LSU, but to make matters worse, they Rebels are going into it shorthanded. They lost four starters on defense in the Texas A&M game, including freshman sensation Robert Nkemdiche and linebacker Serderius Bryant, the team's leader in tackles. None of the four are expected to play this weekend. Ole Miss also will be without starting running back Jeff Scott, who suffered a thigh bruise against the Aggies. Scott leads the team with 434 yards rushing. He is averaging 8.8 yards per carry.