The morning blog: About this game down in The Swamp…
Posted on: September 29,2015
The morning blog:
Ole Miss goes to undefeated Florida ranked No. 3 in the country and as a 6-point favorite.
But the Rebels’ fourth consecutive victory — won over Vanderbilt last Saturday night — begs more questions than it answers.
• Were the Rebels hung over from their huge victory over Alabama at Tuscaloosa? Yes.
• Can Ole Miss win a championship when the Rebels continue to struggle so often in short yardage situations? Probably not. My take: You cannot win a championship if you cannot nearly always make a yard when you need it. Ole Miss must improve there.
• Will Laremy Tunsil ever play? Don’t know. They need him Saturday at The Swamp.
We are still at a point in the season where even undefeated teams have question marks. Ohio State, the No. 1 team in the country, has question marks. So does Ole Miss and so does Florida. Many of the questions will be answered Saturday.
As for Ole Miss: Will the real Rebels please stand up? Are they the team that went into Alabama and won or the team that struggled to win at home against a Vandy team that lost to Western Kentucky 14-12 at home in its opener?
The guess here is somewhere in between. Ole Miss won at Alabama with a plus-5 in turnovers and one miracle play. They beat Vandy, much improved since its opener, despite sleep-walking through much of the game. Both outcomes were extremes. The truth lies somewhere in between.
Expect much more effort and focus from Ole Miss against Florida, which should be sky-high after its comeback victory over Tennessee. One observation from that game: I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a team miss as many tackles as Florida did and then win a big football game over a good team. If Florida doesn’t tackle better against Ole Miss it will be a long afternoon for the home team. You have to love the match-ups of the Ole Miss receivers against Florida defensive backs in the open field. The opportunity is there for a lot of yards after the catch.
Of utmost importance to Ole Miss: Play well early. Keep the Florida crowd out of it. If you’ve never been to The Swamp, it’s hard for you to imagine the way the crowd can affect the game. The Rebels need to quiet the crowd early.
A prediction? Ole Miss is the better football team than Florida with better, more seasoned athletes overall. (When is the last time we’ve said that?)
The Rebels should win and the oddsmakers’ spread seems about right. But here’s the caviat: At some point, a game is going to come down to Ole Miss having to make a yard — or perhaps even just a foot or two — to win it. We’ll see…
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I think Ole Miss wins handily, which – given my record for predictions – should be of little encouragement to rebel fans. Just for laughs, though. I’ll say: Ole Miss 34, Florida 21.