It should be a nighttime SEC shootout when two high-octane offenses meet in Knoxville. The Ole Miss Rebels are 4-1, 1-1 in the SEC and coming off a wild 52-51 slugfest victory over Arkansas last week.
Tennessee is 4-2, 2-1 in the conference, and coming off back-to-back SEC blowout wins over Missouri, 62-24, and South Carolina, 45-20. Let’s see the NCAAF odds.
Ole Miss Rebels vs Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday, October 16, 2021 – 7:30 PM EDT at Neyland Stadium
We should get a nighttime SEC shootout when two high-octane offenses meet in Knoxville on Saturday evening. The Ole Miss Rebels are 4-1, 1-1 in the SEC and coming off of a wild 52-51 win over Arkansas in a slugfest. No. 13 Ole Miss has scored at least 21 in every game this season and at least 43 in every win. The Rebels have also allowed at least 21 in four of five games this year, including a total of 93 in the last two weeks.
Tennessee is 4-2, 2-1 in the SEC, and coming off of back-to-back conference blowouts. The Vols beat Missouri, 62-24, and South Carolina, 45-20. Tennessee has scored at least 34 points in five of its six games, including 107 in the last two weeks. The Vols have also given up at least 20 in four games, including 44 in the last two weeks.
Neylan Stadium should be a raucous environment. Tennessee is expecting its first sellout in years and will have fans participate in a Checker Neyland event for the first time in four years.
Ole Miss has one of the top offenses in the nation. The Rebels are No. 2 in FBS, with 561.6 yards of total offense per game. They’re also fourth in scoring at 46.2 points. Lane Kiffin’s offense is the only one in the nation to average at least 300 yards passing and 250 rushing per game. Ole Miss ranks in the top 10 nationally in rushing yards, passing efficiency, fewest turnover lost, and fewest interceptions thrown.
The Rebels haven’t thrown an interception yet this season. Only Baylor is still sitting at zero interceptions thrown. The Rebels are also taking risks under Kiffin. They lead the country with 18 fourth-down conversions and have succeeded on 75 percent of their fourth-down attempts. Ole Miss is averaging nearly 21 big plays a week—those are plays that go for at least 10 yards—which is second in FBS.
The offense was missing two starters due to injury last week, and the defense one. Kiffin didn’t give much information on their outlook for Saturday during his Monday press conference. Defensive back Josh Springer has been out since week two with an undisclosed injury.
When asked about his status, Kiffin said, “He's very physical, has a great mentality about himself which I think carries off onto other guys, and when he hasn't played we've had to move people instead of it just being one-for-one. ... That's been an issue.”
Running back Jerrion Ealy suffered a concussion against Alabama two weeks ago. “We hope that he plays,” Kiffin said. “Credit to the offensive players who stepped up and scored 52 points against a really good defense.” Guard Caleb Warren also missed the game with an ankle injury.
Another Offensive Machine
As explosive as Ole Miss has been on offense, Tennessee is right on the Rebels’ heels in most categories. The Vols have scored 28 points in the first quarter in back-to-back weeks for the first time in school history, and Tennessee ranks just behind Ole Miss in tempo. Ole Miss is No. 2 in FBS, running 2.89 offensive plays per minute. Tennessee is third at 2.87.
Ole Miss scores 1.75 points per minute, which is also No. 2 in FBS. Tennessee is No. 3 at 1.58. Tennessee has already scored more points than it did all last season, thanks in large part to graduate transfer quarterback Herndon Hooker, who leads the SEC in quarterback rating.
Tennessee appears to have an edge on the other side of the ball, but the Volunteer defense took a hit when linebacker Juwan Mitchell was ruled out for the season after shoulder surgery. “He is the one guy that won’t be with us on Saturday,” coach Josh Heupel said. “I believe a majority of (the other injured players) have an opportunity to get back and play with us.”
That list includes running backs Tiyon Evans and Jabari Small, offensive lineman Cooper Mays and defensive backs Theo Jackson and Doneiko Slaughter.
As impressive as Ole Miss is on offense, the defense could end up being the Rebels’ downfall. Tennessee should be able to stop Ole Miss more often than the Rebels should be able to stop that Vols. That, combined with a strong Tennessee home-field advantage, should be the difference in the game. Take that into consideration for your NCAAF picks.
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