After losing 27-26 to the Vanderbilt Commodores last week in the final minutes of the game the Ole Miss Rebels will have to recover to play the LSU Tigers. The Tigers have won the last two games in the series. The last time the Rebels were in Baton Rouge in 2010 they only lost by 10 points 46-36. The Rebels 5-5 are one game away from becoming bowl eligible. No one is giving the Rebels a chance of upsetting the Tigers in Death Valley, but stranger things have occurs this season. The Tigers are led by their defense and they may have finally found a quarterback that can give the Tigers a throwing threat in Zach Mettenberger. The Tigers defeated Mississippi State 37-17 last week. The Tigers still have a small chance of playing in the SEC championship game or a BCS game if they win out and if they can get some help from other teams. In order for Ole Miss to win against LSU they have to play a perfect game.
Keys to the game:
Be more diversified offensively. Bo Wallace threw for 403 yards last week against Vandy, but the team was not able to run the football. The balance attack that had been the strength for the Rebels has been taken away by the opponents. Jeff Scott has not rushed for over 100 yards in last few games and he needs to return to his early season form in order for the Rebels to be successful. Scott has 680 rushing yards this season.
Stop giving up big plays. The Rebels defense has not been able to get off the field in key situations. Linebacker Denzel Nkemidiche is tops in the SEC among freshmen and ranks second in the nation with 1.15 tackles for loss per game for freshmen. The Rebels defense can‘t allow the Tigers to get any confidence and have to prevent the big play game killer and keep the crowd in their seats.
Tempo tempo tempo. The Rebels thrive when the game is play at their pace. Ball possession is a major key. Keeping the ball away from the Tigers will assure the Rebels of having a fighting chance to win the game. The Rebels love to keep opponents defense on their heels with their no huddle offense.
Defensive pressure. Mettenberger threw for 272 yards in the Mississippi State win and has been gaining confidence week by week. The small but quick Rebels’ defense must put constant pressure on Mettenberger and force him into making bad decisions. The Tigers have had three consecutive games without an offensive turnover. Freshman Jeremy Hill leads the Tigers in rushing with 477 yards.
Overcoming adversity. The Rebels will be playing in front of 92,000 rabid fans and will have to jump out to a quick start as they have all season. However the Rebels have not been able to close out game, because they have not found ways to be consistent for the entire game. The Rebels need to have a sense of urgency for 4 quarters.
Terry Davis covers the Ole Miss Rebels for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515.