Rebels prepare to play No. 5 LSU in Magnolia Bowl

Posted on Sep 25 2018 - 5:50am by Justin Dial

With Kent State out of the way, Ole Miss now turns its attention toward LSU and the Magnolia Bowl. The Tigers will face the Rebels in Death Valley on a Saturday night, which could make for an interesting game in Baton Rouge.

Head coach Matt Luke watches from the sidelines before a weather delay during the game versus Kent State on Saturday. Photo by Taylar Teel

LSU is currently ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and has big wins over Miami in a neutral-site game and on the road at Auburn. Ole Miss will certainly have its hands full this weekend; however, head coach Matt Luke seemed optimistic about his team during his weekly press conference on Monday.

“(We are) excited about the opportunity to play another top-five team on the road at night. It’ll be a very challenging atmosphere,” Luke said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

The challenge is a big one for Luke and his players, but it isn’t one they haven’t had before. After Alabama, LSU will be the second top-five team Ole Miss has faced so far this season, so the competition level won’t be anything new for the Rebels.

“It’s a different scheme. I would say LSU is a little more of an attacking front … Alabama just holds point,” Luke said. “Both are very good defenses, as you’ll see week-in and week-out in this league. They do a great job, and we’re going to have to do a really good job of having high-percentage passes and … enough in the run game … (so that) we don’t get on our heels.”

LSU and Alabama both have solid defenses, and to even be in the game this weekend, Ole Miss will have to play much better on the offensive side of the ball than it did versus Alabama. However, when comparing the offenses of LSU and Alabama, there’s one enormous difference: LSU doesn’t have Tua Tagovailoa under center.

Instead, LSU has Joe Burrow, a transfer quarterback from Ohio State. Burrow has played well for the Tigers through four games, but he hasn’t put up anywhere near the numbers Tagovailoa has.

“On offense, they’re (LSU) big up front. I think Joe Burrow does a great job at managing the game,” Luke said. “He’s a capable passer — can hit you vertically.”

Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu hands off the ball to running back Scottie Phillips during Saturday’s game versus Kent State. Ole Miss won the game 38-17. Photo by Taylar Teel

Ole Miss will likely try to stop the run early to force LSU into some long down-and-distance situations and make Burrow beat the Rebels with his pass game. LSU likes to play tough, hard-nosed football by moving the ball on the ground rather than through the air.

“They have two really big backs,” Luke said. “They have Nick Brossette, and he’s 220 pounds. Then the other guy, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, he kind of reminds me of Scottie Phillips. He hit some big runs last week. (LSU is) very good at running back. We have to be disciplined with our eyes so (that) we don’t lose him in man-to-man coverage in the run game when … (the Tigers) throw their play action.”

The Rebels showed some semblance of a defense in their game versus Kent State last weekend, but they will need to be a lot better to contain LSU on Saturday night. Death Valley will be rocking, and this game will be another chance for Ole Miss to show its true colors against a top-notch SEC program.