Mississippi Black Bears @ Memphis Tigers
Start time: 12:00 PM EST, Saturday, October 17th
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
TV: CBS/ESPN 2
Radio: Memphis - AM 600; Oxford, MS - FM 93.7
Series Record: 10-48-2, Mississippi leads
Betting Line: Tigers +10.5 (69.5 O/U)
On This Date: The Tigers are 10-9-1 in games played on October 17th.
Three Keys to Memphis Victory:
Pressure Chad Kelly
Chad Kelly has been impressive for the Black Bears this season. Kelly has been effective in his pass game and has been a pleasant surprise for Ole Miss at quarterback. If given time Kelly has shown the ability to pick teams apart. But if pressured he isn't as calm in the pocket. His season worst games were home against Vandy and @ Florida. In these games he didn't handle pressure well. Timing is such an issue for a quarterback and if the Tigers can get to Kelly, not necessarily sack him, they will have a shot of keeping him off his game.
This point will be a problem for the Tigers. Forget about sacks, the Tigers can't seem to get pressure built. That is largely the reason for the Tigers defensive woes. Some will talk about the secondary but every play begins in the trenches. It was a blessing for the Tigers to learn that Ole Miss OL Laremy Tunsil will again be suspended this week, and that will benefit the Tigers. The Tigers still have a tough battle on the D line. Memphis simply must find a way to disrupt the Black Bear passing attack before the ball is in the air.
Play conservative/protect the ball
One thing Memphis has done exceptionally well this season on offense has been protecting the ball. The Tigers have only turned the ball over 4 times this season (no interceptions). In fact, in 3 of the Tigers 5 the Tigers tallying no turnovers. The Tigers protect the ball and they must do the same Saturday. It is likely that Memphis can afford no turnovers this weekend. Turning the ball over to Cincinnati almost spelled defeat (Memphis won by 7) and teams can afford 3 turns to Kansas (like Memphis did). Ole Miss will be a different story. The Tigers will have to limit Black Bear possessions.
Last season the Tigers played Ole Miss rather conservatively. They didn't go deep often and gave a good dose of running. The Tigers will need to take a similar approach tomorrow. Short passes and occasionally test the Black Bear deep. An aim small miss small approach offensively will go a long way toward winning this game. The Ole Miss defense really struggles with short passes and the Tigers can take advantage of those high percentage balls.
Run the ball
This plays in to the conservative play for the Tigers. I expect Paxton Lynch, and his arsenal of receivers, to have success. I also expect Chad Kelly to have success passing the ball for Ole Miss. The Tigers, however, run the ball much better than the Black Bears. The Tigers even defend the run better than Ole Miss. The trenches will play such an important role in the outcome of this game. For the Tigers conservative play to be successful they will need a solid ground game. This will open up the field for Lynch to throw and he will have more success...but it all starts with the run for Memphis. Pounding the rock, owning the time of possession, and not turning the ball over will be key for Memphis.
Earlier today I was emailing with some of the guys of Red Cup Rebellion. One of the things we tried to pinpoint was the score. For some reason the number 48 sticks out in my head. I told them I had a feeling that the first team to get to 48 would win. Unlike last season, this game will not be a defensive showdown.