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SEC Football: Ole Miss-Texas A&M and LSU-Florida Preview

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Using the adjusted stats to preview the Rebels-Aggies and Tigers-Gators match-ups.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

This Saturday's slate of SEC games was inevitably going to be a letdown after last weekend's exciting games. Interesting match-ups still abound for their storylines, if not for their national impact. The Florida-LSU game has two teams that are trying to redeem themselves. Florida is trying to redeem its perception despite its 3-1 record, and LSU is trying to redeem its season. Ole Miss travels to College Station after one of its program's biggest wins in the last decade, and Texas A&M is looking to recover from a humbling defeat.

Let's breakdown the F/+ numbers to see how these teams match-up. Keep in mind these ratings are still taking into account decreasing levels of preseason data until Week 7. F/+ rankings are comprised of the S&P+ ratings and the FEI ratings. This is how those ratings are described:

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) considers each of the nearly 20,000 possessions every season in major college football. All drives are filtered to eliminate first-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores. A scoring rate analysis of the remaining possessions then determines the baseline possession expectations against which each team is measured. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams -- win or lose; and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams.

The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from both play-by-play and drive data from all 800+ of a season's FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays). There are four key components to the S&P+

If interested, here is a glossary for additional use.

Lastly, the F/+ percentage ratings measure every team against a perfectly average team. So, if the F/+ rating of a team is 0 percent, that team is considered perfectly average by this rating system.

The F/+ and S&P+ View of Texas A&M-Ole Miss

OVERALL

When TAMU Has the ball...

When Ole Miss has the ball...

Category

TAMU

Ole Miss

TAMU Off.

Ole Miss Def.

TAMU Def.

Ole Miss Off.

F/+ Rk (Overall)

16 (14%)

1 (23.5%)

F/+ Change From Last Week

11 (-5)

5 (+4)

S&P+ Overall

18 (224.6)

2 (246.2)

FEI Overall

21 (0.165)

6 (0.237)

S&P+ Rk (Overall)

224.6

246.2

10 (116.5)

2 (131.7)

27 (108)

13 (114.5)

Rushing S&P+ Rk

4 (0.612)

22 (0.414)

84 (0.500)

114 (0.427)

Passing S&P+ Rk

10 (0.640)

3 (0.354)

65 (0.512)

12 (0.634)

Ole Miss travels to College Station to take on Texas A&M and the 12th Man on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. A shame we have to wait all day to get to this game, but it should serve as a nice chaser to the earlier games. The overall rankings show both S&P+ and FEI think highly of these two teams. The Aggie offense versus the Ole Miss defense is possibly the single best match-up of the weekend.

The Ole Miss defense is arguably playing the best defense in the entire country. Last Saturday, it held Alabama's eighth-ranked S&P+ Offense to 170 yards passing and 6-of-16 on 3rd downs. Previously, the best offense it had faced was Boise State's 26th-ranked S&P+ Offense, and it was probably fair to question how they would perform against a much better Alabama offense. Consider that test passed. Alabama was held to 17 points, the lowest number of points it's scored since the 2011 regular-season game against LSU, which ended 9-6. Its next test is the Aggie offense.

Thus far, the Aggie offense seems good for at least 4-5 touchdowns per contest. Last week, on the road against Mississippi State's seventh-ranked S&P Defense, it still managed 31 points, 28 first downs, and 526 total yards. A glance at the table above indicates the Aggies will have an advantage running the ball against Ole Miss. Alabama's Rushing S&P+ is ranked 30th, and went for 168 yards against the Rebels. The aerial battle is worth the price of admission alone. Malcome Kennedy, Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones against Mike Hilton, Cody Prewitt, and Trae Elston is a battle that will continue in the NFL after their college days are over.

Ole Miss' offense looks like it will struggle running the ball, according to these ratings but should have success throwing the ball. Ole Miss relying on the passing game requires faith in Bo Wallace to play well, and last Saturday he did that. He'll have another opportunity to silence the doubters and build his legacy this Saturday. Ole Miss will need him, because A&M has an edge running the ball and defending the run, and the 12th Man should be loud and angry.

The F/+ and S&P+ View of LSU-Florida

OVERALL

When LSU Has the ball...

When Florida has the ball...

Category

LSU

Florida

LSU Off.

UF Def.

LSU Def.

UF Off.

F/+ Rk (Overall)

23 (11.2%)

50 (4.9%)

F/+ Change From Last Week

10 (-13)

37 (-13)

S&P+ Overall

12 (228.7)

52 (202.5)

FEI Overall

52 (0.059)

42 (0.102)

S&P+ Rk (Overall)

228.7

202.5

20 (113.3)

45 (103.2)

14 (126.9)

61 (99.3)

Rushing S&P+ Rk

49 (0.516)

26 (0.424)

75 (0.489)

69 (0.493)

Passing S&P+ Rk

25 (0.600)

85 (0.536)

20 (0.447)

117 (0.438)

S&P+ clearly favors LSU in this match-up, but interestingly, FEI pegs Florida to be the winner, 22-18. LSU's plummet down the S&P+ ratings the last two weeks suggests it was over-ranked (by most everyone, to be fair), and at least a few LSU fans have to be wondering whether the Tigers have already hit rock bottom or have further to go. The conventional wisdom for this game is that it will be an ugly, defensive slog. Contrarian opinions are fun when the predictor turns out to be correct, but any claims this game turns into offensive fireworks is a bridge too far.

The S&P+ stats indicate that Florida's offense may have a slight advantage running the ball and will, meanwhile, be hard-pressed to attack Florida vertically through the air. This should help LSU avoid falling behind early, as it has against Wisconsin, Mississippi State and Auburn, games in which LSU has been outscored 66-17 in the first half. The Florida offense is just the remedy for slow starts. LSU will probably not respect Florida's passing game until the Gators prove that it should. Nevertheless, Florida may still find success running the ball despite a loaded box.

LSU's offense should have opportunities to gain in the air against Florida's secondary. Kentucky's 66th-ranking Passing S&P+ put roughly 355 yards passing on that secondary in regulation a few weeks ago, and Tennessee's 110th ranking managed 205 yards. The nearest Passing S&P+ defensive rating LSU faced was New Mexico State's 76th ranking that LSU managed 200 yards against.

LSU will probably need to execute in the passing game, because it may have a hard time running the ball. These variables all seem to be building towards a Will Muschamp approach of coverage disguising and heavy blitzing against LSU's quarterback of choice. Field position will be crucial for both teams, and it should be a tight game.