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Boise State Broncos vs. Ole Miss Rebels Preview

An overlooked game is still an intriguing one, as Ole Miss reaches for new heights and Boise State tries to prove it can still be a giant-killer

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State Broncos vs. Ole Miss Rebels (Atlanta), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

There's been so much discussion of the Texas A&M-South Carolina game, not to mention the focus on weekend games like Georgia-Clemson and Alabama-West Virginia, that's it become a little easy to overlook this game. Which is to some extent too bad, because it's an intriguing game on a lot of levels.

On one side is Ole Miss, a team that some see as a dark-horse contender for the SEC West with a potentially explosive offense and a defense that's a bit better than you might think. There are worse ways to put yourself at the center of the national conversation than roasting a widely-recognized program, even if it still a Mountain West Conference program at the end of the day, in a prime-time game on opening night. The lack of another marquee game in the same time slot, at least once the Aggies and the Gamecocks are done, also helps.

Boise State, meanwhile, is entering its first season without Chris Petersen, the coach who won the Fiesta Bowl and at one pointed had turned the Broncos into a perennial Top 10 team. Boise is still good, but it has some issues this year, particularly along both lines. Boise loses three starters each along the offensive and defensive lines, though it returns every other starter on defense. Joe Southwick is no longer at quarterback, but suffered an injury in October; Grant Hedrick actually had more prolific passing totals, and he does return. So do Jay Ajayi, who rushed for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns last year, and Matt Miller, who had 88 receptions for 1,140 yards and 12 scores.

In other words, there's no reason to pick Ole Miss because of SEC chest-thumping or mid-major disrespect. But that doesn't mean that the Rebels can't win this one in the end, or even by a healthy amount.

Ole Miss 42, Boise State 27