In a battle featuring teams with contrasting styles, No. 15 Ole Miss hosts No. 11 Texas A&M on Saturday for the first meeting since 2019. Last season's meeting between the division rivals was canceled due to COVID-19 issues, meaning this will be the first time that second-year Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has faced the Aggies since taking the job.
It figures to be a tough test for Kiffin's high-powered offense, as the Rebels will be facing a Texas A&M defense that has been one of the best in the country as of late. The Aggies held the Auburn offense in check en route to a 20-3 victory last week and now rank second nationally in scoring defense by giving up just 14.7 points per game.
Ole Miss is ranked 16th nationally in scoring offense with 37.8 points per game but is reeling under the weight of injuries that have tested its offensive depth. Texas A&M is 5-3 against Ole Miss since joining the SEC in 2012, and the Aggies have won the past three meetings. But Kiffin's presence in the series adds a wrinkle of unpredictability to what figures to be an entertaining clash between top-15 foes.
Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss: Need to know
Battering rams: Both teams run more than they throw and rely on more than one back to get things done in the run game. So whichever defense can better withstand the constant battering should have the advantage. Texas A&M ranks ninth nationally in yards per rush at 5.43 behind the duo of Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane. But Ole Miss ranks fifth nationally in yards per game rushing at 237.9, and the Rebels have a trio of backs capable of wearing down opponents. The Rebels also have a mobile quarterback in Matt Corral, and the pace at which Ole Miss plays can wear down opposing defenses.
Receiver issues: Both teams have issues at receiver. Ainias Smith has big-play potential for the Aggies but hasn't finished with more than 50 receiving yards in any of the last three games. The Aggies rank 59th nationally in pass plays of 25 or more yards this season. Ole Miss has a deeper group of proven receivers, but their health is a problem. Fifth-year senior Braylon Sanders made two catches against Liberty last week but is still on the mend from an injury suffered against Tennessee on Oct. 16 that forced him to miss two games. Fellow veteran wideouts Dontario Drummond and Jonathan Mingo missed the Liberty game. Mingo has been out for several weeks but is expected to return this season. Drummond is the team's leading receiver from the slot position, and his absence against Liberty opened the door for converted quarterback John Rhys Plumlee to lead the team with seven receptions for 110 yards.
Postseason implications: Texas A&M remains in position to potentially overtake No. 2 Alabama for the SEC West crown, but this is a must-win game for the Aggies. They will still need the Crimson Tide to lose a second game, but if A&M beats Ole Miss and wins at LSU on Nov. 27, it could end up playing in the SEC Championship Game. The Aggies would own a potential tiebreaker on both Alabama and Auburn by virtue of head-to-head victories against those teams. Ole Miss also has just two league losses but would need to win out and have an unlikely combination of other outcomes to win the division.
How to watch Ole Miss vs. Texas A&M live
Date: Saturday, Nov. 13 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium -- Oxford, Mississippi
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Ole Miss vs. Texas A&M prediction, picks
Ole Miss is banged up at receiver and on the offensive line. The Rebels masked those issues in the first half against Liberty last week but limped to the finish line in that game. At every position aside from running back, it feels like the Rebels offense is being held together with duct tape and creativity. Texas A&M appears to be getting stronger as the season goes, and the Aggies will be the more physical team in this game after imposing their will against an Auburn team that beat Ole Miss by 11. Prediction: Texas A&M (-2.5)
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