The Ole Miss Rebels are fresh following a bye last week, and are just two weeks away from a monumental SEC West showdown in Oxford against Alabama on Oct. 4.

However, the Rebels do have another game between now and then, a matchup with the unranked Memphis Tigers in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium this Saturday night. Ole Miss head coach Huge Freeze addressed the media Monday, and was sure to make clear his team won’t be looking past Memphis with a matchup against the Crimson Tide looming.

“It’s certainly going to be a game that we are going to have play very, very well to win,” Freeze said of Ole Miss’ game against Memphis. “It’ll be a good challenge for us. We need that at this point in the season.”

Memphis nearly upset then-No. 11 UCLA two weeks ago, falling to the Bruins 42-35 while showing the rest of the nation, Ole Miss included, it is not the cellar-dweller it used to be. Freeze backed up that claim by praising Tigers’ head coach Justin Fuente, who is now in his third year on the job. Freeze’s 2011 Arkansas State squad throttled Memphis 47-3 the year before Fuente took over, but the Tigers have slowly built a quality program ever since.

“I’ve been very impressed with the job Justin has done there in a short amount of time,” Freeze said. “They play with a tremendous amount of passion and physical football, and he’s upgraded the talent level significantly from the last time I had an experience with them when I was at Arkansas State. That credit goes to him and his staff.”

Saturday’s game will be the first meeting between Ole Miss and Memphis since 2009, when both schools had different coaches running their football programs. Most current players on both teams had not reached college the last time these two met, and only Ole Miss middle linebacker Deterrian Shackelford (a sixth-year senior) made any sort of impact in that game.

With just 71 miles separating the two schools’ campuses, this regional rivalry should bring out the best in both teams. Memphis blasted Middle Tennessee 36-17 last week while the Rebels enjoyed the weekend off.

Freeze also discussed what his own team did during its bye last week, citing depth as one area of focus. The Rebels’ head coach said the most important part of the week off was “just about us getting more reps for our young kids,” which could work in Ole Miss’ favor should it suffer a rash of injuries down the line.

Freeze also said his team worked on improving its rushing attack, which has certainly had its struggles through Ole Miss’ first three games, and noted the bye week was a good chance for his team to get healthy with seven SEC games remaining on the schedule. The Rebels won’t get another bye week until the middle of November, and they’ll play seven straight games between byes.

It was also announced Monday that the Rebels’ game against Alabama was selected for the 3:30 PM ET television slot on CBS, which typically goes to the premier SEC game of the weekend considering CBS gets first-pick among all the games around the conference on a given weekend. The Ole Miss-Alabama game was selected ahead of other SEC matchups including LSU-Auburn and Texas A&M-Mississippi State.

It will be the first CBS-televised game in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium since 2009, and although nothing has been confirmed, CBS’s selection should give Rebels’s fans even more hope that College Gameday will visit Oxford on Oct. 4 for the first time in the show’s history.