The Magnolia Bowl, the annual matchup between Ole Miss and LSU, is always a great game. Usually, Ole Miss comes in as a big underdog, LSU as a ranked powerhouse, and people get a much closer game than they bargained for. The games typically come down to a final possession.
This year, I expect much of the same. While LSU has had quite a season behind senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger and sophomore running back Jeremy Hill, they still have quite a ways to go before things in the SEC West shake out. A looming matchup with Alabama will go a long way in determining how the National Championship picture forms at the end of the season. The Tigers’ thriller with Georgia was a game for the ages, and despite losing that contest, LSU has a lot of confidence that they could win the West.
Ole Miss is beaten, battered, and bruised. Their down-to-the-wire matchup with Texas A&M last week was an incredible game for both teams, but ultimately ended in heartbreak for the Rebs. You give Johhny Manziel the ball with three minutes left and only needing a field goal to win, and you might as well hand him a win on a silver platter. And that’s what Ole Miss did. They threw the game right to A&M and walked out of Vaught-Hemingway with a three game losing streak. What’s worse is that the Ole Miss defensive line is crumbling faster than you could imagine. C.J. Johnson is having season ending surgery, and Isaac Gross and Robert Nkemdiche are among a group of other linemen that are hurting and may or may not be able to go Saturday night.
Will the Rebel offense be able to put up some points against a mediocre (by LSU standards) Tiger defense? Bo Wallace looked a little bit better last week and Barry Brunetti had quite a few good series and a couple of TDs to show for it, but like the D-line, Brunetti is banged up as well.
Ultimately, I see this game being a typical LSU-Ole Miss matchup. Many people think that LSU will run away with it, but I think the Rebels know that they need this win in a bad, bad way. Win this, and they still could get to eight or nine wins. Lose and they might squeak out seven.
I think that Hill and the LSU run game will exploit and injured Rebel defensive line and run up and down the field, but call me crazy, I see the Ole Miss offense putting up enough points to pull out a shocker down in Oxford.