After a humiliating 66-31 home loss to the Texas Longhorns last week, the Ole Miss Rebels hope for a huge comeback performance when they head to New Orleans to take on the Tulane Green Wave.
Tulane also heads into this contest coming off a loss, a 45-10 thrashing by the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. However, it is the recovery of Devon Walker from a broken neck suffered two weeks ago that is truly the focus of the program.
The Green Wave plans to honor Walker before the game (via Tammy Nunez of the Times-Picayune), who is still recovering from surgery.
With hearts heavy, this will undoubtedly be a tough contest for both sides. Regardless, both will go out and give every ounce of effort to try to come home victorious.
For that reason, here's a look at everything you need to know about Saturday's contest.
When: Saturday, Sept. 22 at 12 p.m. ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.
Watch: Fox Sports Net
Listen: Rebels Radio Network, 690 WIST AM (Tulane)
Stream: Ole Miss All-Access
Ole Miss Injuries (via USA Today)
LB D.T. Shackelford, Knee, Out for Season
Tulane Injuries (via USA Today)
QB Ryan Griffin, Shoulder, Questionable
RB Orleans Darkwa, Ankle, Questionable
S Devon Walker, Neck, Out for Season
OG Zach Morgan, Shoulder, Out for Season
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Both the Rebels and Green Wave are coming off getting eviscerated, so neither are making much of a fuss in the BCS or Top 25 discussion.
Tulane is 0-2 after a loss two weeks ago Tulsa, meaning the BCS is completely out of the question. Considering the Green Wave's strength of schedule (the team has no Top 25 matchups in 2012) and the relative weakness of Conference USA, it likely would have an undefeated record to get Tulane into the discussion.
A Top 25 ranking isn't impossible, though it would likely take an undefeated run from now until the team's bowl game to get it done.
On the other side of the field, a Top 25 ranking is almost always in play with an SEC school. Getting clobbered by Texas last week in the team's first real test isn't a good sign, but it is one easily recovered from with a banner victory.
This just won't be that ranking-altering win.
Nonetheless, a victory this week is necessary for the Rebels with the first-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on tap for next Saturday.
What They're Saying
Meeting with the local media following on Monday to look forward to the Rebels' contest against Tulane, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze heaped a ton of praise on his upcoming opponents.
Focusing especially on the Green Wave's defense, Freeze seemed to insinuate that his team will be in for a tough test Saturday.
I'm very impressed with them, particularly defensively. They held Rutgers to 150 yards rushing (in a 24-12 season-opening loss).
You can tell (Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson) is very comfortable facing that type of offense, coming from the NFL. He understands how to fit the power game. They have a tremendous defensive lineman, No. 92 (Julius Warmsley), he could play for anyone.
Ole Miss Player to Watch: QB Bo Wallace
After starting out his reign as Rebels' starting quarterback swimmingly, Wallace looked every bit the part of a youngster making his third career start last week against Texas.
The 6'5" dual-threat went just 13-of-24 for 178 yards while tossing three interceptions and just one touchdown. He was eventually benched for junior Barry Brunetti, who looked good in limited work, completing 4-of-6 passes for 51 yards.
Nevertheless, the job is still Wallace's to lose. It just doesn't seem likely that Wallace will be able to keep it if he continues his struggles.
Brunetti is talented in his own right and could usurp the sophomore if Wallace doesn't tone down his penchant for the interception.
With this looking like an extremely winnable game for Ole Miss, expect the leash to be shorter than it was last week.
Tulane Player to Watch: QB Ryan Griffin / QB Devin Powell
Through two games this season, the Green Wave's offense has yet to make even the slightest splash (sorry) against its opponents.
Many teams struggle early in the season, but Tulane's failure to move the ball down the field is jarring. The Green Wave has scored just 22 points thus far in 2012, fifth-worst in all of college football. The team's 219.5 yards per game? Second-worst.
Nonetheless, it's the team's running game that has been most putrid. Gaining an astoundingly low 15 yards, Tulane is the only team to play multiple games and have fewer than 100 yards for the season.
That means the onus will undoubtedly be on whichever quarterback gets the start for the Green Wave on Saturday.
After allowing Texas quarterback David Ash to go 19-of-23 for 326 yards and four touchdowns last week, it's apparent that the Ole Miss' biggest defensive weakness is in the secondary.
For Tulane to have any shot at pulling off a home upset, it will likely need a similar performance. Considering Griffin is battling a shoulder injury and Powell is a freshman, getting that level of brilliance seems unlikely.
Key Matchup: Tulane Defense vs. Ole Miss RB Jeff Scott
Despite getting just 20 carries so far, the Rebels running back has been an offensive spark plug every time he's touched the ball this season, gaining 206 yards.
The gaudy 10.3 yards per carry would usually indicate Scott breaking off one or two huge runs; however, that has not been the case. The 5'7" speedster has a long of just 48 yards and has provided Ole Miss with its biggest threat coming out of the backfield.
As 15-point underdogs, the Green Wave cannot survive on Saturday if they give up big plays. Unfortunately for Tulane, the defense will have to markedly improve to avoid getting dominated on the ground.
In last week's loss to Tulsa, the Green Wave defense allowed 364 yards on the ground and seemingly got beaten at the point of attack on every single play.
Without an unforeseen leap in defensive efficiency, this game could get ugly.
Some expect Tulane to find the elixir for its offensive struggles against a Rebels defense that gave up 66 points last week.
Sadly, the Green Wave aren't the Longhorns. Tulane will come out inspired early, but Ole Miss is simply too strong on both sides of the ball for this game to be remotely close.
Score Prediction: Ole Miss 45, Tulane 17
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