No. 25 Ole Miss at Texas
Saturday, 8 PM, Longhorn Network
Line: Texas -3.5
A bit of allure and luster from this matchup has been lost, but there is still a lot of intrigue heading into Saturday’s matchup between Texas and Ole Miss. In this case, the intrigue centers on the Longhorns defense and if they can stop a team that runs the read option. Texas surrendered 550 yards rushing to BYU last week in a loss that cost Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz his job. Diaz was replaced by Greg Robinson, who has coached the defense at Texas before.
Ole Miss comes into the game with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, as they are seeking to avenge a loss last season in Oxford. Ole Miss is playing pretty well on both sides of the ball and finds themselves ranked in the Top 25.
Also, with the word that David Ash may not be available after leaving the BYU game with head and shoulder injuries. Ash will be a game time decision, giving Ole Miss some more difficulties with game prep this week.
For Texas to win: Control the running game. This applies to both sides of the ball. It’s not just about being able to stop the run, but it is also about being able to run the ball. Ash is Texas’s leading rusher with 125 yards this season, and the team has rushed for nearly 500 yards this year. The Longhorns best defense might be to run the ball, keep the chains moving, and shorten the clock. Essentially, play keep away.
For Ole Miss to win: Tempo, tempo, tempo. Part of what had to have worn the Longhorns down last week was the fact that BYU ran the ball 72 (!) times and ran 99 plays overall. The volume of plays that the defense was on the field for in absolutely staggering, even in this era of high speed attacks. Ole Miss might want to push the tempo again and lean heavily on the run until Texas’s defense can prove that it can get stops.
Key Players, Texas: The defensive line. It all starts up front. Texas has to get a push up front on the defensive side of the ball. The front four will be the difference makers in this game on Saturday night. Getting pressure on quarterback Bo Wallace and blowing up the running game at the mesh point with the running backs is going to be what everyone is looking at when watching this game.
Key Players, Ole Miss: Jeff Scott and Barry Brunetti, running backs. It’s not quite a thunder and lightning backfield but the size of Brunetti and the quicksilver nature of Scott offers the Rebels a chance to run the ball. Ole Miss has actually been relatively balanced through their two games this season as far as run versus pass, but expect a lot of running at first on Saturday night.
Key Stat: 2009. That was the last time that Ole Miss found themselves ranked in the top 25 before this week.