The LSU Tigers look to continue their bid for a BCS bowl berth by putting on an impressive performance against the Ole Miss Rebels in Death Valley.
The Tigers (8-2, 4-2) appeared to have bounced back from their heart-breaking loss to Alabama just fine last week when they trounced the Mississippi State Bulldogs 37-17. After a shaky start to the season, the Tigers' offense looks better than ever behind an ever-improving Zach Mettenberger.
Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4) is coming off of a disappointing loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores and are still on the hunt for a signature win in what has been a mediocre 2012 campaign.
With LSU marching toward another 10-win season and the Rebels looking to shock the college football world, here's everything you need to know about this SEC showdown.
Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: SEC Live
Spread: LSU -18.5 (via Covers.com)
As the No. 7 team team in the country facing a pedestrian Ole Miss squad, it's no surprise that the Tigers are a big favorite in this one. However, the buyer should beware before they jump all over LSU to cover in this one.
According to Covers, the visiting team is 4-0 against the spread in their last four meetings. The underdog is 10-2 against the spread in the last 12. Given how different college teams can be from year to year it's difficult to gauge how much these trends really play into this year's game. The moral of the story is funky things can happen when these two teams get together.
The Tigers look good to cover the spread, but the trends here are a bit too much to call it a lock.
Over/Under: 50 (via Covers.com)
Everyone knows about the vaunted LSU defense. Points will be hard to come by for the Rebels in this one.
The Rebels defense is a relatively underrated unit. The Rebels are allowing 27.7 points per game on the season and outside of a 66-31 loss to Texas they haven't allowed anyone to score more than 40 in a game.
If LSU is able to score around 30 points, the Rebels would need to score around 20 points to get this game to hit the over. Considering the strength of both defensive units, the under looks like the good bet here.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
DE Carlos Thompson - Shoulder - Questionable
RB Charlie Scott - Undisclosed - Questionable
DB Wesley Pendleton - Ankle - Questionable
LB Aaron Garbutt - Illness - Questionable
G Josh Williford - Concussion - OUT indefinitely
OT Alex Hurst - Personal - OUT indefinitely
For the Tigers there's still an outside shot at creating a three-way tie atop the SEC West. If Alabama somehow loses the Iron Bowl against Auburn and both LSU and Texas A&M run the table the rest of the way, all three teams would be 6-2 in the conference.
However, those chances are slim. Auburn has been one of the most disappointing teams in the country and Alabama should be incredibly motivated after letting the Aggies beat them at home.
For LSU, that means the only chance at a BCS bowl berth will be an at-large bid. With only two games left on the schedule, they'll need impressive wins over both Ole Miss and Arkansas to stand out for one of those coveted spots.
Ole Miss was never in contention for a BCS bowl this season but they stand one win away from bowl eligibility with only LSU and Mississippi State on the schedule.
Keys for Ole Miss Victory
If Ole Miss can pull off the upset in this one it will be because they play the best game of their season.
The Rebels have been a decent team under Hugh Freeze. They've shown that they can hang with good teams when they execute with a 30-27 loss to Texas A&M. However, they've also lost 37-10 against Georgia and 33-14 against Alabama.
If they want this one to resemble their close encounter with the Aggies they'll need quarterback Bo Wallace to throw the ball early and often without making mistakes. Wallace threw for more than 400 yards last week and has the skills to test the Tigers secondary if his offensive line can give him time.
On defense, the Rebels can't allow LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger to get into a rhythm. They allowed Vanderbilt's Jordan Rogers to get comfortable last week and he made them pay in a 27-26 loss for the Rebels.
Keys for LSU Victory
For LSU to win, it needs to continue what it has done all season. The Tigers play great defense that forces opponents to make mistakes, then they make the opposition want to quit when they have the ball with a punishing ground game.
What has been most interesting with this LSU team has been the progression of Zach Mettenberger during the season. He has transformed from a liability to a difference maker the last few weeks and make the Tigers a much more dynamic team than they have been in the past.
A great performance from Mettenberger probably isn't necessary for the Tigers to pick up the win, but fans would certainly like to see the signal caller continue his progression with a nice performance against a clearly inferior opponent.
Ole Miss should be commended for being a slightly better team than it's been given credit for this season, but it really doesn't stand a chance in this game.
After facing Top 25 teams the last five games, the possibility of a let down game is there, but Les Miles should have this team focused and ready to go. Expect the offense to continue to show improvement while the defense reminds folks why they are considered one of the elite units in college football.
Predicted Score: LSU 31, Ole Miss 7
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