In preparation for Thursday’s season-opener between Ole Miss and Boise State in Atlanta, Saturday Down South is taking a look at the key matchups that may decide the showdown between the Rebels and the Broncos.

Bo Wallace vs. the Boise State secondary

Bo Wallace is the SEC’s most veteran quarterback entering the 2014 season, and he’ll have the opportunity to begin the season against one of 2013’s worst pass defenses.

Boise State allowed its opponents to throw for more than 3,200 yards a season ago, and many of their opponents’ passing attacks were less potent than what Ole Miss will bring to Atlanta on Thursday night.

The Broncos return their top-three interception leaders from last season in cornerbacks Donte Deayon and Bryan Douglas, as well as free safety Darian Thompson Jr. All three showed big-play abilities in the back-end of the Broncos’ defense in 2013, but the Boise defense struggled as a whole to slow down opposing passing attacks.

In two games against teams from the FBS power conferences – a Week 1 game against Washington and a Hawai’i Bowl showdown with Oregon State – the Broncos allowed their opponents to complete 72 percent of their passes for a combined 583 yards and three touchdowns (Boise was 0-2 in those games). For the season, Boise Sate allowed its opponents to complete nearly 65 percent of their passes, and if Wallace is able to achieve similar numbers the Broncos will have trouble keeping up.

Wallace is far from the Rebels’ lone returning weapon in the pass game from last season. Although Ole Miss lost wideouts Donte Moncrief and Ja-Mes Logan, they return sophomore Laquon Treadwell, last season’s SEC Freshman of the Year.

Treadwell has already shared his thoughts on the Broncos’ secondary this month, calling their defensive backs “small.” Deayon is 5-foot-9 and Douglas is 5-foot-10; Treadwell, meanwhile, stands 6-foot-2.

Wallace will also have 6-foot-3 tight end Evan Engram and 6-foot-1 receiver Vince Sanders in his arsenal Thursday night, creating size mismatches favoring Ole Miss all over the field. If he can avoid making the big mistake that injects Boise with life, the Rebels’ passing attack should take care of itself.

As a grizzled senior, Wallace will be expected to keep the offense on-pace and the playmakers happy in 2014. He won’t need to pick defenses apart, but instead must make smart decisions and let his talented teammates take advantage.

Against a size-deficient secondary with plenty of experience, avoiding mistakes will likely be the difference in Wallace throwing for 300 yards or throwing multiple costly interceptions.

With 26 career starts under his belt and a chance to shine in the national spotlight, expect Wallace to play a poised, confident game, including multiple touchdown passes.