Mississippi Rebels at South Carolina Gamecocks, 7:30 p.m. ET / 6: 30 p.m. CT, ESPN; Open Thread begins at 7 p.m. ET
Despite all you've heard about these two teams' offenses -- and what hasn't been said, good or bad, about South Carolina's? -- both are actually about middling in the SEC statistically in terms of yardage. Ole Miss is first in scoring offense, which I should note is a slightly important category in which to lead, but otherwise these teams are about average or even below average.
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SOUTH CAROLINA PREVIEW :: Garnet and Black Attack
OLE MISS PREVIEW :: Red Cup Rebellion
SBNATION.com STORY STREAM
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Part of the buzz about South Carolina likely comes from the competition; the Gamecocks have averaged 399.7 yards a game against the likes of Georgia, N.C. State and decent mid-major Florida Atlantic, and that takes into account the 256-yard effort in Raleigh.
What, then, is Ole Miss' excuse? The Rebels' high-octane attack is average 424.5 yards, good only for fifth in the SEC, against one of the puffiest of schedules -- at Memphis, vs. Southeast Louisiana -- so far at the time of the year when SEC schools are regularly scheduling their easy nonconference games.
In any case, this is the first test Ole Miss will encounter on its attempt to get to Atlanta in early December, and it comes in a difficult environment. Columbia is a place where visiting teams rarely win on Thursday nights, when the Gamecocks are 4-1 at home under Spurrier. The one loss was a narrow and, as it usually goes for South Carolina, improbably loss against Auburn in 2006, when the Tigers were postseason Top 10 team.
South Carolina has its own problems when it comes to history. The Gamecocks' sole win against a team ranked in the Top 5 came 28 years ago. They have never defeated a Top 5 SEC squad. That is not the only way this could be seen as a decisive game for South Carolina, if not for the Steve Spurrier Era. The Gamecocks have had a great game (Georgia), a mediocre game (Florida Atlantic) and an awful game (N.C. State). How well they play in this matchup could easily determine the direction of the season.
They play well, just not well enough.
Ole Miss 28, South Carolina 24