Mississippi (3-3, 1-2) at LSU (4-2, 2-1)
When: Saturday, October 22nd 2016
Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The new-look LSU Tigers offense will look to keep pace with Alabama in the SEC West when they host the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Since firing head coach Les Miles, the LSU offense has put up 43.5 points a game under interim coach Ed Orgeron and star running back Leonard Fournette has yet to play under the new leadership. Fournette is set to make his return on Saturday against Ole Miss. Fournette’s absence opened up the door for Derrius Guice, who compiled 325 yards and five touchdowns on 33 carries in the last two games, and 480 yards and six TDs in the three that Fournette sat out this season. Quarterback Danny Etling threw for 276 yards and three TDs in the 45-10 win over Southern Mississippi last week. The Tigers have yet to allow an opponent to score more than 20 points and defensive end Arden Key leads the SEC with seven sacks while Kendell Beckwith (60) ranks second in tackles. LSU has won 18 straight October home games at Tiger Stadium.
The Ole Miss offense continues to roll, but the defense isn’t helping the Rebels win ball games. Mississippi dropped their third game of the season against a ranked opponent last week when they fell to Arkansas 34-30. Quarterback Chad Kelly had his worst passing day of the season at Arkansas last week, completing just 46.2% of his passes, but still sits second in the SEC with 1,849 passing yards. Kelly’s top target is tight end Evan Engram, who leads the SEC with 590 yards but his three biggest receiving games of the season came in the team’s three losses. Engram caught five passes for 58 yards and a score in a 38-17 home win over LSU last season but the star was Kelly, who passed for 280 yards and two touchdowns and added 81 yards and a pair of TDs on the ground. The defense ranks 104th overall in the nation allowing 446 yards a game and are 105th against the run (212.8).
LSU’s recent offensive resurgence has come against lesser opponents, so I’m not jumping on their bandwagon just yet. Yes, Ole Miss has all kinds of problems on defense, but their offense is good enough to keep them in games like last week against Arkansas. I’ll call for a high-scoring close contest in this one.
Pick: Ole Miss +6