We’re finally here. It’s game week!
The depth charts are compiled. Travel plans are fully arranged. Game menus are finalized. And anticipation is reaching its apex.
This Saturday, at approximately 3:45 Central Daylight Time, BYU and Ole Miss will begin battle in the muggy, sticky humidity and near-90 temperature in Oxford, Mississippi. It will mark the first time BYU has played an SEC opponent since it beat Mississippi State back in 2001.
And it’s time to break down the matchup to its most basic factors.
A tale of two lines
We know Ole Miss has an offensive line full of absolute beasts. The Rebels have a sophomore, Jared Duke, who is listed at 6-7, 335 lbs., and he may not even start! And it doesn’t degrade too rapidly in terms of size from there.
This group isn’t just big, they’re physical and boast great athleticism.
On the other hand, BYU’s defensive line is as good as it’s been in recent years. With four returning starters, a solid linebacking corps, and a newly-adpoted attitude of execution and accountability, Bronco may have an elite (at least in BYU terms) defensive front seven.
Ultimately, the question is: How big will the holes be for Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden to run through? The featured back ran for nearly 1,000 yards last season and with those horses up front, should be able to gain yards against any defense, including the Cougars.
But how many points will that translate to for the Rebels?
BYU will be offensive
On the other side of the coin is BYU’s offense. We’ve seen the Cougars score big, but haven’t seen Jake Heaps and co. do it against a big-time defense.
But, the Ole Miss defense isn’t exactly the Steel Curtain. This is a team that was in 107th nationally in points given up last season.
So the offense will certainly put up yards and probably points. But the irony here is that the points BYU can score may be determined, in large part, by how long the Ole Miss offense stays on the field.
Picking up the Pace
It all comes down to this:
If both sides play equally well on special teams and turnovers, the outcome of the game will be dictated by pace.
If the Rebs are running the ball effectively and wearing down the clock, Heaps and the athletic offense will have less chances to score and will tighten the point differential.
If BYU gets ahead early, Ole Miss will have to mix in the pass. From what we’ve seen and heard, that doesn’t bode well for the Rebels and opens the door for turnovers and short possessions.
For BYU to win, they must score early, take away Ole Mississippi’s ability to grind down the clock, and continue to push with scores through the second half.
But don’t be surprised if we see the winner of this game fails to reach the quarter-century mark in points.
Follow Ryan at http://Twitter.com/SportsGuyUtah