Ole Miss (2-1) at Tulane (0-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 22, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (73,208) -- New Orleans, Louisiana. Television: FSN. Home Record: Ole Miss 2-1, Tulane 0-1. Away Record: Ole Miss 0-0, Tulane 0-1. Neutral Record: Ole Miss 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Conference Record: Ole Miss 0-0, Tulane 0-1. Series Record: Ole Miss leads, 42-28.
GAME NOTES: In their first road game of the year, the Ole Miss Rebels will try to take down the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday afternoon at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Under the direction of first-year head coach Hugh Freeze, the Rebels' season started off with a pair of impressive wins against Central Arkansas (49-27) and UTEP (28-10), with the two wins already matching their total from all of last season. That led up to a highly-anticipated home game against Big 12 power Texas last week in prime time, but Ole Miss ended up taking a step backwards in the bout, losing 66-31 in front of the largest crowd Vaught- Hemingway Stadium has ever held for a non-conference game (61,797).
Tulane had hoped that a new coach would help change the culture, but so far it has been more of the same. Curtis Johnson's bunch dropped its first two games of the season at home to Rutgers (24-12) and on the road in its Conference-USA opener at Tulsa (45-10). It's been more than a calendar year since the Green Wave last claimed a victory, losing 12 straight.
These two teams have some serious history between them, with Ole Miss holding a 42-28 series advantage. The Rebels won the last meeting in 2010, also in New Orleans, 27-13.
The Ole Miss offense has been clicking in the early going this season, amassing more than 500 total yards per game. The 108 points is the most the team has scored through its first three games since it tallied 117 back in 2003.
The biggest reason for the offensive explosion is due to the emergence of sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace, who has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes (48-of-70) for 616 yards and six touchdowns, and he's also rushed for 143 yards and a pair of scores. Much like the rest of the team however, Wallace disappointed against Texas, throwing three of his season-total four interceptions last week.
The chemistry between Wallace and his top receiver Donte Moncrief (18 catches, 320 yards, three TDs) is undeniable. The duo has connected on a touchdown strike of 50 yards or more in each of the first three games. Moncrief also tallied a career-high 144 yards in the loss to Texas.
The running game has amassed 735 yards (5.9 ypc) and seven touchdowns in the early going. Though Randall Mackey (32 carries, 138 yards, TD) has received the most touches in the backfield, it's been Jeff Scott (20 carries, 206 yards, TD) who's been more explosive.
The defensive blunder the team put up in the Texas game mostly offset the positive work the unit put in during the first two games as it now sits with some rather ugly stats (34.3 ppg, 444.7 ypg).
The Rebels are capable of making a lot of plays in the backfield, recording 21 tackles for loss and nine sacks. The production has been balanced, with no player having more than one sack.
The secondary has been active as well, with Frank Crawford and Cody Prewitt each making an interception, and Cliff Coleman tallying five pass breakups already.
Unlike Ole Miss, Tulane has displayed one of the most lackluster offenses in the FBS this season, scoring a combined 22 points in its first two games while tallying less than 220 total yards per contest.
Senior quarterback Ryan Griffin's impressive completion percentage (.672) may seem to contradict the Green Wave's offensive struggles, but he has averaged just 157 passing yards per game with one touchdown and one interception. Freshman Devin Powell (8-of-16, 110 yards, TD) has also seen time under center.
Ryan Grant is clearly the number one target in the receiving game with 11 catches, 219 yards and a touchdown, and he has now caught at least one pass in 10 straight games. No other player has more than 52 receiving yards.
Tulane's running game has been virtually non-existent, putting up an embarrassing 15 total yards over two games -- thanks in large part to the 11 sacks its QBs have taken. Rob Kelley (17 carries, 48 yards) is the team's featured back, and he also has eight receptions out of the backfield.
The offense has done the defense no favors in the early going, but it's hard excusing the unit's performance (34.5 ppg, 480 ypg).
The Green Wave have a difficult time getting pressure on the quarterback, with Julius Warmsley recording the only sack. Big plays in the secondary are sparse as well, although Ryan Travis has done more than his share through two games with an interception and a fumble recovery.
Returning home is hardly a comfort for Tulane as it has lost its last six games in front of New Orleans faithful. The Green Wave still appear to be in transition mode, while Ole Miss clearly seems to have a renewed energy under its new head coach, especially against inferior competition. Behind another impressive game from Wallace, expect the Rebels to move to 3-1.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ole Miss 34, Tulane 13
09/19 10:41:21 ET