Tennessee at No. 3 Ole Miss: Player of the game and final score predictions
The Tennessee Volunteers (3-3) will travel to Oxford, Miss., to take on No. 3 Ole Miss (6-0). The Vols are coming off a 45-10 win over Chattanooga in Week 7. The Rebels captured a 35-20 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday, continuing what has been a stellar start to the season.
Ole Miss has seen a dramatic turnaround since last season. The Rebels were 8-5 overall and 3-5 in SEC games, finishing sixth in the SEC West. But the emergence of several sophomores from a top-5 2013 recruiting class has propelled Ole Miss into the national spotlight.
The Tennessee offensive line is the worst unit in the SEC. The Vols have allowed 23 sacks this season, including six to FCS Chattanooga on Saturday. Tennessee returned zero starters on its offensive line from the previous season and its inexperience in the trenches has shown throughout the season.
Prediction: Ole Miss- 17, Tennessee- 7
The Vols are a 16.5 underdog entering Saturday’s game. However, both teams have talented defensive units that will keep the score low early. Bo Wallace has limited his turnovers in recent weeks, but is due to make some mistakes against an improved Tennessee defense.
The Rebels defense will pressure Justin Worley. While the Vols’ line is incapable of providing protection, Ole Miss– in contrast– is one of the nation’s most talented units. Tennessee should struggle on offense and will suffer another disappointing SEC loss.
Player of the Game: Robert Nkemdiche
Robert Nkemdiche is a key part of the Rebels’ turnaround. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive tackle is the centerpiece of a defensive unit that ranks No. 8 overall in pass defense and No 21 in rush defense. Nkemdiche has 14 tackles, including a sack, but his presence alone takes pressure off his teammates in the trenches.
The sophomore will see a breakout statistical performance in Saturday’s game. The Vols will be incapable of stopping Nkemdiche and the Rebels talented front seven.