What a different feel for this game in a year, in seven days even.
Last year Texas visited Oxford, and an Ole Miss team that was really learning how to win had the chance to see how it would match up against upper echelon talent. The results weren’t good, but the video was closely studied, particularly on the defensive side, and the Rebels got better through the year.
At the beginning of this season, and even before the Texas loss at BYU, few folks had Ole Miss winning this game, though the feeling was that the gap had closed.
Just watching how the 2012 seasons played out for Ole Miss and Texas after the met in Oxford you could see the gap had closed.
But now with the chaos surrounding the Longhorns, the Vegas odds, for entertainment purposes only, have the game at 3-4 points.
If you look at how BYU’s run game dismantled Texas last week with 550 rushing yards you really like Ole Miss chances.
Rebels coach Hugh Freeze doesn’t really like the fact that Texas has changed defensive coordinators. Freeze was pretty far down the road with a game plan for a Manny Diaz defense, and now that’s out the window.
Unless Greg Robinson has a plan for tackling not much will change. A lot of tackling is “want to” on the part of the players. I’m not sure that gets fixed in seven days.
Ole Miss has gotten off to a strong start with its offensive starters. That wasn’t so much the case when Barry Brunetti replaced Bo Wallace against Southeast Missouri State, but as long as Wallace has been in the game the Rebels, against Vanderbilt the week before, have been pretty good on the ground and in the air.
Wallace has gotten away with a couple of passes that could have been intercepted, but so far he’s been pick free, a big improvement for a guy who threw 17 last year.
Ole Miss should have a chance to move the ball and score on the Texas defense. There’s precedent for that. The Rebels did it against these players last year.
Several things make me lean to Texas, however.
I don’t believe the Ole Miss corners are ready for this challenge. Senquez Golson may be, but Mike Hilton is still feeling his way around. I would be surprised if Charles Sawyer, arrested early last Sunday, plays in the game. That’s not been announced, but typically those arrested for DUI are not playing the following week.
That being said, Ole Miss corners, whoever they’ve been, have struggled in two games. They could not cover Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews. Many cannot, but Matthews was dominant.
The following week and FCS quarterback who runs the option and rarely passes threw two touchdown passes against Ole Miss.
If SEMO can throw on the Rebels and score it stands to reason that Texas back-up Case McCoy can if it’s McCoy making the start. If it’s David Ash, well, he threw for 326 yards, four TDs and no picks last year.
Ole Miss really needs pressure on the quarterback and hasn’t had much of that in the first two games for various reasons, one of those the continued improving health of CJ Johnson. He is getting better, and more blitzes may be called this week. If so, that takes a little attention away from Johnson and Robert Nkemdiche.
What makes me swing Texas, though, is the emotion factor. We’re starting to see reports that this is a pivotal game for Mack Brown’s future at Texas. We know this is a team with talent that’s been embarrassed by its performance at BYU. There’s a backs-to-the-wall mentality forming, and I’m thinking Texas will ride that to victory.
Ole Miss will move the ball on the ground, but not to the tune of 550 yards. Texas won’t be that bad again, and the Longhorns will make some plays in the air.
Prediction: Texas 31, Ole Miss 28