COMING THIS WEEK
After serving a postseason ban the last two years, Mississippi is halfway home to bowl eligibility. Coach Matt Luke’s Rebels (3-3, 2-1 SEC) came out flat in a 15-10 loss to Memphis and suffered consecutive losses to Cal (28-20) and Alabama (59-31) but have capitalized on early games against two of the SEC’s worst teams, beating Arkansas and Vanderbilt by a combined 62-23.
Ole Miss has relied on freshmen as much as any team in the country, especially on offense. They have accounted for 2,189 of the Rebels’ 2,628 yards, 83.3 percent, the highest rate in the country. Mississippi has the SEC’s most prolific rushing attack in conference games, averaging 309.7 yards on the ground in three SEC contests. The Rebels’ 692 rushing yards over the last two games — against Vanderbilt and No. 1 Alabama — are the team’s most over a two-game span since 1998.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Ole Miss began the year with redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Corral. But he’s been sidelined by bruised ribs the last two games, opening the door for another freshman QB, John Rhys Plumlee. The rookie from Hattiesburg, Miss., powered the Rebels’ running game against Vandy, rushing for 165 yards in his second career start. The four-star recruit, who doubles as a member of Ole Miss’ baseball team, made his first career start against Alabama two weeks ago and accounted for three touchdowns and 250 yards of offense.
HE SAID IT
“Shoot, they rushed for over 400 yards Saturday night. That’s hard to do. That’s really, really hard to do. Now you’re looking at averaging over 300 yards in conference games. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that number. We have to be really, really good against the run, but you also see what they’re doing throwing the ball down the field. It’s going to take a tremendous effort to slow them down.”
— Missouri coach Barry Odom on Mississippi’s offense
Missouri linebacker Cale Garrett is likely out for the season after undergoing surgery for a torn pectoral tendon. Punt returner and cornerback Richaud Floyd is considered day to day with a hamstring injury. Offensive guard Case Cook missed part of Tuesday’s practice with a tight back but is expected back for Saturday’s game. Defensive end Tre Williams is nursing a sprained ankle.
The Tigers have dominated a series that’s been decided by double-digit margins in all seven meetings. Mizzou is 6-1 all-time against Ole Miss, including a 3-0 record in Columbia. The only matchup in conference play came in 2013, a 24-10 Mizzou victory in Oxford, Miss. The Tigers won the first meeting 17-0 in 1973, fell to the Rebels 10-0 the next year in Jackson, Miss., and have since won five straight in 1978 (45-14), 1979 (33-7), 2006 (34-7), 2007 (38-25) and the 2013 game.
- Dave Matter