OXFORD — If history is any indicator, it could be another big weekend for No. 16 Ole Miss’ offense.
The Rebels (3-0) are averaging 43 points per game through three games, coincidentally tied for 19th nationally with this weekend’s opponent, Tulsa (2-1).
Ole Miss has among the best defenses in college football thus far — the Rebels are surrendering 4.3 points per game, albeit against a trio of teams that are far from elite. The Golden Hurricane, on the other hand, are giving up 31 points. Included in there is a season-opening 40 point offensive effort from Wyoming, who is averaging 11.5 points per game against its other two FBS opponents this season.
Without last weekend’s 54-17 win over Jacksonville State, Tulsa is giving up 37.5 points per game against two FBS foes. Excluding the Rebels’ 59-3 win over its FCS opponent, Central Arkansas, Ole Miss still averages 35 points per game offensively.
Here are three reasons Ole Miss can be expected to put up some fireworks against the Golden Hurricane come Saturday.
Tulsa has a problem sacking the quarterback
The Rebels have given up just two sacks this season, and while part of that is due to strong offensive line play, credit needs to be given to sophomore quarterback Jaxson Dart, who has masterfully maneuvered his way around the pocket and scrambled out of trouble when necessary. Tulsa has just four sacks total on defense, with all of them coming against Jacksonville State last weekend. Head coach Lane Kiffin has not named the starting quarterback for Saturday, but whether it’s Dart or fellow sophomore Luke Altmyer, he should have time to scan the field.
The Golden Hurricane aren’t great against the run
While it was against a potent Rich Rodriguez-led rushing attack, Tulsa gave up 208 rushing yards to Jacksonville State last weekend. For the season, the Golden Hurricane give up 159 yards per game on the ground.
Ole Miss has two of the four leading rushers in the SEC in junior Zach Evans and freshman Quinshon Judkins, who have a combined 606 yards and six touchdowns. Ole Miss is tied for fifth in the nation with 12 rushing touchdowns and has scored 11 rushing touchdowns in 17 red zone trips, tied for the fourth-most nationally. The Rebels have at least 230 rushing yards in every game this season; there’s a good chance it’s the case again Saturday.
Tulsa is prone to surrendering the big passing play
The Golden Hurricane give up 13.4 yards per completion, 20th-highest in the FBS. Ole Miss is 29th in yards per completion offensively at 13.8 yards. Tulsa has surrendered 15 passing plays of at least 15 yards this season. For comparison’s sake, Ole Miss has allowed nine such plays, with five of those coming in the opener against Troy.
The Rebels’ passing game hasn’t hit its full stride quite yet, but three Ole Miss receivers average at least 16 yards per reception (minimum of four catches), led by senior Jonathan Mingo’s 23. Tulsa has a big-play passing game — quarterback Davis Brin and his offense average a whopping 15.3 yards a completion, 12th nationally — but the Rebels have a chance to match that this weekend given Tulsa’s tendencies.
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