Game time: 9 p.m. ET
Odds: LSU -7, Over/Under 60.5 via oddsshark.com
The main storyline throughout the week regarding Saturday night’s visit of Ole Miss to LSU in Baton Rouge has revolved around the Ed Orgeron redemption tale as the LSU interim head coach faces off against his former employer for the first time as a head coach.
Orgeron has, however, previously faced Ole Miss twice as an assistant coach, first with Tennessee in 2009 and last year with LSU, with both games taking place in Oxford.
This series has been a competitive one in recent years with LSU holding a 6-4 edge over the last ten games. Ole Miss has not won in Tiger Stadium since 2008, but the Tigers have not beaten Ole Miss by more than a touchdown at home in over 20 years.
1) The Orgeron Coaching Shrub
While the Orgeron era at Ole Miss was an unmitigated disaster, it’s also fair to say that Ole Miss would not be where it has been for the past few seasons without Orgeron. As head coach, Orgeron gave Hugh Freeze his first collegiate job; first an administrative role in 2005 then as tight ends coach in 2006. Orgeron’s coaching staffs in Oxford also included current Ole Miss offensive line coach Matt Luke (2005) and offensive coordinator Dan Werner (2006 and 2007), as well as present Ole Miss administrative staffers Chris Rippon, Tom Luke and Barney Farrar who all held various positions on Orgeron’s staffs in Oxford.
2) The Ole Miss Linebackers
After numerous recruiting misses at the linebacker position, there is not much talent to be had at the linebacker position for the Rebels. Junior Demarquis Gates is a serviceable SEC linebacker, but that’s about it as far as players of any renown. Oregon State transfer Rommel Mageo and junior college/Georgia transfer Detric Bing-Dukes have struggled to have an impact on the field and a total of five other linebackers (in a 4-2-5 alignment) have started aside from Gates as the Ole Miss coaching staff has tried numerous personnel to find any sense of coherence.
The result has been that the Rebels have struggled at the linebacker position which has likely been compounded by a mostly inexperienced set of safeties behind them. At the midpoint of conference play, Ole Miss ranks 11th amongst SEC teams in rushing yards against in SEC play at over 250 yards per game and . Those struggles coming up against LSU’s two headed monster of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice does not portend well and if the Rebels cannot get off the field, it could be a long night for the Rebels defense.
Both teams will be desparate not to lose this game as both came into the season with national title aspirations. While both had obvious flaws to outsiders, I doubt many would have expected a combined five losses for the teams entering this game. If the game is tight entering the fourth quarter, which team will tighten? Ole Miss did in the last matchup of this series in Baton Rouge after entering the game with a 7-0 record and LSU did during last year’s capitulation in Oxford.