The Memphis Tigers will make the 70 mile trip to Oxford, Mississippi on Saturday to take on the Ole Miss Rebels for the first time since the 2009 season. Ole Miss began the year 3-0 and is currently ranked No. 10 in this week’s Associated Press Poll. The Rebels were off last weekend.

Memphis, meanwhile, opened the year 2-1, with the loss coming by just seven points to then-No. 11 UCLA.

Here are five Tigers that Ole Miss fans should look out for in Saturday’s contest:

  1. Doroland Dorceus (RB): Dorceus has been Memphis’ best weapon on offense this season, leading the team with 218 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. If the yardage seems a bit low, it’s because he splits time with another top-flight back in Brandon Hayes (we’ll get to him in a bit), but rest assured Dorceus is an explosive runner who has averaged better than 5.7 yards per carry this season. He has a nose for the end zone, leading the Tigers in total touchdowns, and is a tough runner who does not submit to the first tackler to come his way. The Rebels must contain Dorceus and swarm to him when he carries the ball to keep him from establishing any sort of rhythm in the Memphis offense.
  2. Brandon Hayes (RB): As previously mentioned, Hayes is the second half of the Tigers’ two-headed monster at running back. He has carried the ball 41 times to Dorceus’ 38, which is a pretty even split through three games, and has rushed 192 yards and nearly 4.7 yards per carry. Hayes and Dorceus keep one another fresh, although Dorceus appears to be the red zone back capable of getting across the goa line. Still, the Rebels’ defense will not be let off the hook when Hayes subs into the game for Dorceus, as both players are talented enough to be a featured back on plenty of other teams across the country.
  3. Paxton Lynch (QB): The Tigers love to run the ball, but Lynch is a very capable quarterback who brings balance to the Memphis offense. His 66 percent completion rate is better than average, especially considering he usually throws the ball more than 30 times per game. Lynch has averaged more than 11 yards per completion, and has thrown five touchdowns to just two interceptions. The touchdown total is modest, but the Tigers’ backs can take care of the scoring when Memphis gets inside the red zone. However, Lynch’s low interception rate is what makes him so dangerous, as the Memphis passing game will rarely make a costly mistake to give an opposing defenses an easy advantage. Ole Miss must force Memphis into long third down situations, forcing Lynch to do more than sit in the pocket and make easy throws to underneath receivers all night. Otherwise, the balance of this Memphis offense could break Ole Miss under the lights in Oxford.
  4. Tank Jakes (LB): Jakes is far and away the most dynamic playmaker on the Memphis defense, and although it’s easier said than done, the Rebels would be wise to avoid him at all costs when executing on offense. Jakes leads the Tigers in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks, and it’s not even close between him and the next closest Tiger in a given category (he has 11 more tackles, 6 more tackles for loss and 3 more sacks than any other player on the team). Jakes flies around the field and tracks down ball-carriers like a man possessed. Ole Miss must identify where he is on the field at all times, and cannot expect one lineman to simply block him out of a play. If the Rebels do not actively scheme around Jakes, he will make them pay in a big way on Saturday.
  5. Alan Cross (WR): Cross is not a consistent every-play receiver, but he has dynamic big play abilities that could help Memphis’ offense if the Tigers fall in an early hole against Ole Miss. He has pulled in three of Lynch’s five touchdown passes so far this season, and despite making just eight total catches in three games Cross is second on the team with 127 yards through the air, an average of nearly 16 yards per reception. Cross is the man who stretches the field for the Tigers’ offense, and a talented Ole Miss secondary must ensure one man is always deeper than Cross is in obvious passing situations. If he goes unidentified on even one snap, it could quickly turn into six points for Memphis, which makes it critical the Rebels step up and shut him down.