Home SEC Game of the Week: LSU and Ole Miss Square Off in 110th Magnolia Bowl

SEC Game of the Week: LSU and Ole Miss Square Off in 110th Magnolia Bowl

by Connor Jackson

Photo courtesy of LSU athletics

Last season, LSU won a close game over Ole Miss to somewhat resurrect its season.

In 2021, the Tigers are hoping to replicate that same formula.

After an emotional week for both teams this past week, it will be interesting to see who shows up.

LSU won a 49-42 thriller over Florida last week while No. 12 Ole Miss held off Tennessee in a bizarre contest, 31-26. Saturday’s contest in Oxford begins at 3:30 p.m. ET and airs on CBS.

All-Time Series

LSU holds a 64-40 advantage over the Rebels all-time. It has also dominated the series of late.

The Tigers come into this one holding a 5-game winning streak over the Rebels. The most recent matchup was a dramatic one. LSU won 53-48 to close the 2021 season. That victory allowed LSU to finish 5-5 and avoid its first losing season since 1999.

The last Ole Miss victory came in 2015. In that one, quarterback Chad Kelly finished with just shy of 400 total yards and four total touchdowns en route to a 38-17 win.

A win here for Ole Miss could help prove it is legitimate, and end a losing streak. A win for LSU would give departing head coach Ed Orgeron one more memorable victory before the end of his time in Baton Rouge.

Key Headlines

LSU

The Tigers (4-3, 2-2 SEC) made national headlines this week — mostly because LSU went public and decided to part ways with Orgeron. Orgeron won the 2019 national championship with LSU, but has gone 9-8 since. Orgeron and LSU athletics director Scott Woodward agreed to mutually part ways.

That decision was made after LSU lost to Kentucky 42-21 two weeks ago, but the school did not go public with the decision until after its victory over Florida last Saturday.

Even with all the distractions, LSU found a way to pull off a 49-42 upset over Florida for the second straight season. Not only did LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price break the LSU record for rushing yards in a game with 287, but the Tiger defense also came away with four interceptions.

LSU hopes it can overcome more distractions this week and pull off an upset over Lane Kiffin and the Rebels.

Ole Miss

LSU is not the only team coming off an emotional win. Last week, Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1 SEC) survived a near-upset loss against Tennessee on the road, 31-26. It was a night where trash and golf balls were thrown onto the field in protest of the officials. There may have been a little hostility towards Kiffin, a former Tennessee head coach, as well.

It was the second straight week where Ole Miss has pulled off a close victory, even when things did not look pretty. Quarterback Matt Corrall went down late in the game last week, and Kiffin is not sure if he will be ready to go this weekend.

If Corrall is not available, the Rebels will turn to true freshman Luke Altmyer. Fortunately, Ole Miss has plenty of weapons surrounding him.

Still, Ole Miss is coming off two near-losses over the last two weeks. Whether or not Corrall plays could be the deciding factor on Saturday.

Keys to Victory

LSU

If LSU runs the ball the way it did last week, it will be a long day for the Ole Miss defense.

Expect the Tigers to ride the hot hand — or legs — of Davis-Price, but they have to be creative. DJ Durkin and that Ole Miss defense will be prepared for what comes at them. Now, it is up for offensive coordinator Jake Peetz to outsmart the defense.

With no Kayshon Boutte for the rest of the season, LSU should be committed to the ground-and-pound style of football. When playing an explosive offense like Ole Miss, the best defense can be to take care of the ball and control the clock. Ole Miss can’t score if it doesn’t have the ball.

Whether Corrall plays or not, expect LSU to heat up the pocket. It will be a banged-up Corrall or a true freshman back there. Making whoever the signal caller is uncomfortable is key to the Tigers’ success.

Ole Miss

Corral leads the team in both passing and rushing. After being banged up this past week, it is hard to believe he’ll run for nearly 200 yards against LSU as he did against the Volunteers.

Ole Miss will have to adapt. Whether or not Matt Corrall plays should not change the game plan. The Rebels need to draw up things to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly and find a way to establish a running game.

Fortunately, Snoop Conner has emerged as a reliable tailback in the absence of Jerrion Ealy. Ealy was limited in last week’s game against Tennessee

Ole Miss cannot afford to miss opportunities on either side of the ball. If LSU protects the ball and is able to run the ball like last week, it will put a lot of pressure on the Rebels. There are a lot of unknowns this week for Ole Miss.

Prediction

Line: Ole Miss -9

The Rebels are listed as a 9-point favorite. It’s tough to see them covering — even at home.

They have struggled as favorites over the last two weeks and the nagging injuries are adding up. Potentially losing their Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback is certainly not ideal. Even if Corrall is ready to go, Ole Miss likely will not be willing to do as much with him.

Expect Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby to form a game plan that both protects and does not hinder Corrall’s playmaking ability. Now, it comes down to if the players can execute that game plan properly.

LSU is going to keep the ball on the ground against a defense that has been suspect at best the last few weeks. By doing that, the Tigers will eat up the clock and protect the ball.

If nothing else, Ole Miss has shown that it is capable of winning close games.

Final: Ole Miss 28, LSU 27

Other Predictions from Around the SEC

Arkansas 52, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 7

Mississippi State 31, Vanderbilt 10

Alabama 45, Tennessee 24

Texas A&M 27, South Carolina 10

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