Texas A&M (5-1) vs. Ole Miss (5-2) 7:00 pm
Notes: Ole Miss is 1-2 since 2012 against Texas A&M and won last season 35-20 in College Station. In 2012 and 2013 Texas A&M won two games by three points each game (30-27 in 2012 and 41-38 in 2013). Ole Miss is 2-1 (wins over Alabama and Vanderbilt) in SEC play this season and Texas A&M is 2-1 (wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State).
The Aggies are coming a disappointing home loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide 41-23 in College Station. Texas A&M’s offense threw 3 interceptions that were returned for touchdowns en route to the loss and must rebound this week in a very tough road environment in Oxford, Mississippi. The Aggies are averaging 36.5 points per game and have a wide open spread attack that puts alot of pressure on opposing defenses. Texas A&M is averaging 162 yards on the ground and has thrown for 292 yards per game through the air this season. Quarterback Kyle Allen must bounce back from a sub-par performance last week and must be able to show poise against a very physical defensive front seven of the Ole Miss Rebels. Last week, Allen was under pressure all afternoon and seemed to rush throws into double coverage allowing the Alabama secondary to be opportunistic. Allen has completed 60.9% of his passes for 1,537 yards with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. In order to take the pressure off of the offensive line (19 sacks allowed through 6 games), the Aggies must be able to establish the running game with Tra Carson. Carson leads the team with 476 yards averaging 4.4 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns on the ground. If the Aggies are able to run the football successfully, head coach Kevin Sumlin can open up the passing came and stretch the Rebels defense vertically. In last week’s loss, the team fell behind early 14-0 and became one dimensional into playing from behind. Texas A&M will want to get wide receivers Christian Kirk, Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones involved early on as this group is as explosive as any trio in college football. On the year, all three players have combined for 81 receptions for 1,283 yards with 9 touchdowns. Texas A&M can create mismatch issues for Ole Miss if the offense can get into a rhythm early on. In last seasons loss, the Rebels were very physical and jumped out to a 21-0 lead early on which forced the Aggies into passing to come from behind. The Ole Miss defensive front was the difference as it wore down an undersized Aggies’ offensive line.
Defensively, the Aggies are allowing 24.3 points per game and must be get better in stopping the run. On the year, the team is giving up 195 rushing yards per game and is yielding 183 passing yards per game. Led by defensive end, Myles Garrett (team leading 8.5 sacks), Texas A&M is able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and put stress on opposing offensive lines with their great speed. The team has recorded 20 sacks through the first six games and must be able to crush the pocket of Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly on Saturday night. Defensive back Armani Watts leads the team with 49 total tackles and Aggies must be able to force turnovers on the road. So far this season, Texas A&M is -1 in turnover margin and must utilize the speed off of the edge with Garrett to create tackles for loss. Garrett will be matched one on one with Ole Miss tackle, Laremy Tunsil (suspension) , who is expected to be available and play in this game.
Neither team will carry momentum into this game as the Rebels are coming off a 37-24 road loss to undefeated Memphis. After jumping out 14-0, the Rebels offense could not move the football and the team committed costly turnovers to give the Tigers the home win. Ole Miss is averaging 43.6 points per game and is rushing for 167 yards per game on the ground this year. At home, the team is averaging 75 yards more, rushing for 242 yards per game. Quarterback Chad Kelly will need to show maturity this week in his ability to bounce back from a tough loss. On the year, Kelly has completed 65.5 % of his passes for 2,234 yards with 16 touchdowns along with 7 interceptions. Running back Jaylen Walton, who leads the team with 331 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns, is questionable for this game. However, with the expected return of offensive tackle Tunsil, the Rebels will look to run the football against a suspect A&M front seven. Arkansas and Alabama showed the weakness of the A&M defense by running the football off tackle and through the middle of the defense. Ole Miss should challenge the Aggies early on to see if Texas A&M is physically worn down from the Alabama game. If so, this can open up the play action attack and allow big play wide receivers Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core to get deep on the Aggies secondary. Treadwell leads the team with 49 receptions for 654 yards with 4 touchdowns while Core is second on the team with 23 receptions for 426 yards with 3 touchdowns.
Ole Miss could be without starting defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who was injured in the loss to Memphis last week with a concussion. If Nkemdiche cannot play, Ole Miss will need to find ways to get pressure on Kyle Allen and they must utilize blitzes to create pressure. If Allen has time to locate his receivers, it can be a long night for the Rebels. On the year, the Rebels are allowing 22.1 points per game and are very solid in run support giving up 130 yards per game to their opponents. This is not the same dominant defense it was a year ago, as the group has failed to consistently generate sacks (11 through 7 games) and win the turnover battle every week (-2 in turnover margin). In order to get the victory on Saturday night, the Rebels must be aggressive at the point of attack and not allow yards after the catch. Defensive lineman Marquis Haynes leads the team with 3.5 sacks, however, without the presence of Nkemdiche forcing double teams, Haynes could be neutralize on Saturday night. Linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche (Robert’s brother) is the emotional leader of the unit and leads the team with 41 total tackles. He is a player that can run sideline to sideline and can utilized in blitz packages to create double teams. He will need a big night if the Rebels are to get the home victory and Ole Miss must be able to feed off of the home crowd in Oxford.
Listen to Joe’s show on Yahoo Sports Radio every Saturday morning from 10-11am EST at www.streamysr.com.
Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America),Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor at www.2FiveSports.com.He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson(www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
Joe has a weekly radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com with former Georgia Bulldogs WR Corey Allen called: