No. 12 Ole Miss still has its sights set on the SEC West title and a trip to the conference championship game in Atlanta come early December. The Rebels will look to keep those hopes alive Saturday when it plays host to LSU in the Magnolia Bowl. Ole Miss is coming off of a wild win over Tennessee, which included a 20-minute delay after Volunteer fans threw trash on the field. Meanwhile, the Tigers stunned Florida in Death Valley to break a two-game losing streak, but fired coach Ed Orgeron anyway the following day.
Make no mistake, though. This game is personal for the players, coaches and respective fan bases. LSU is on a five-game winning streak in the series, but this is the best chance Ole Miss has had since the Hugh Freeze era.
Let's break down the game and make picks straight up and against the spread.
LSU vs. Ole Miss: Need to know
Change in identity: LSU's rushing attack was so bad that Orgeron essentially gave up trying early in the season. That changed over the last two weeks, though. Tyrion Davis-Price rushed for 147 and two touchdowns in the loss to Kentucky, and then a school-record 287 yards and three touchdowns vs. the Gators. It couldn't have come at a better time, too. Star wide receiver Kayshon Boutte is lost for the season with an ankle injury, which has put a tremendous amount of pressure on sophomore quarterback Max Johnson. The emergence of the running game is timely; if successful, it will keep the potent Ole Miss offense on the sideline.
Matt Corral's status: Rebels coach Lane Kiffin told reporters that Corral's status is up in the air after the star quarterback ran the ball 30 times against the Vols. Is it lip service? Orgeron seemed to think so during his media availability on Monday, but that doesn't mean that Corral is 100%, either. It'll be interesting to see if Kiffin unleashes his Heisman Trophy hopeful on the ground again or protects him by relying more on his running backs.
Sense of relief? The inevitable became reality on Sunday when LSU announced that it will part ways with Orgeron after the season. Both parties discussed how the divorce has been in the works for a few weeks, which makes the Florida win even more impressive. What does that mean, though? Did LSU's players get the sense of what was coming and play inspired for their coach? Don't be surprised if they play fast and loose now that a massive weight has been lifted off of their shoulders.
How to watch LSU vs. Ole Miss live
LSU vs. Ole Miss prediction, picks
Davis-Price's back-to-back great games gives me confidence that, at the very least, the Tigers can hang. The Rebels defense has been brutal this season and the best way to keep Kiffin's offense within arm's reach is to keep it on the sideline. When you throw in the questions surrounding Corral's health, this just feels like it's going to be a late-game nail-biter -- which is par for the course for the Rebels lately. Prediction: LSU (+9.5)
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