5 reasons Ole Miss needs to beat Georgia
Ole Miss has played a tough schedule. So far, it has been forgiven on a national scale. Lose to Georgia on Saturday, and the bandwagon will lose the rest of the pile.
Here are five reasons the No. 23 Rebels need to beat No. 12 Georgia.
1. In desperate need for a win over a ranked team
Ole Miss had its chances against No. 4 and No. 1. For reasons well-documented, the Rebels blew those chances. To the surprise of some, they are still in the AP Top 25 and still have a ton to play for. The Rebels still have respect nationally, but beating a scrub wouldn’t do anything to further that notion. Whether you agree with Georgia’s No. 12 ranking or not, the 3-0 Bulldogs would be a big notch in the belt. Ole Miss has been favored anywhere between two and seven points at home.
2. To show they really can play four quarters
When it comes to Ole Miss, we can use a line from Dennis Green: They are who we thought they were. The Rebels play fast and score fast. Ole Miss ranks third from the bottom in the NCAA in time of possession. The Rebels have had the ball for 22:10 per game. Only Akron and Georgia State have averaged less time of possession, and that’s only by a margin of seconds. Scoring fast is good only if it occasionally gives the defense a rest. Playing four quarters of defense isn’t going to work in the long run.
3. To keep New Year’s hopes alive
Yes, playing a New Year’s Day game is still possible for Ole Miss. That possibility may include running the table. That is a feat in itself, but one that won’t happen unless the Rebels beat Georgia. ESPN’s FPI gives Ole Miss a 1.4 percent chance to win out, the two biggest obstacles according to the computers being at LSU and at Texas A&M. The same computers give the Rebels a 74.6 percent chance of winning Saturday.
4. To tighten up the run defense
There has been a lot of talk about Ole Miss’ pass defense, but the Rebels rank fourth in the SEC, allowing 216.3 passing yards per game. It’s the run defense that has been reeling, allowing nearly 243 yards per game, next to last in the SEC. Nick Chubb is second in the league in rushing with 365 yards on 71 carries, tied for the most carries in the league.
5. To beat a freshman quarterback
First, it was Florida State’s Deondre Francois, then Alabama’s Jalen Hurts. Now comes Georgia freshman Jacob Eason. Unlike those first two, Jacob Eason isn’t going to take off unless he’s being chased. But Ole Miss has by far the best quarterback in the SEC in Chad Kelly, but two freshmen have handed Kelly’s team losses. There’s not a head-to-head battle there, but it’s still not a good look for Ole Miss. Kelly has thrown three picks, tied for the most in the SEC. The defense has yet to pick a pass, the only SEC team that hasn’t.