The NCAA baseball tournament title could stay in the state of Mississippi and in the SEC Conference if the Ole Miss Rebels beat the Oklahoma Sooners in the College World Series championship series.
Ole Miss should be the underdog as it tries to bring home the third straight SEC victory from Omaha, Nebraska.
The Rebels played an extra game to get to the championship series compared to Oklahoma, and they will not have their ace, Dylan DeLucia, available for Saturday's opener since he pitched a gem against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday.
Oklahoma's pitching staff allowed three runs in the last two games to make its roster as fresh as possible going into Saturday's opener.
Ole Miss won three low-scoring games and produced 13 runs in the other to stay alive in Omaha. It needs all of its pitchers to combine for a strong opening to bridge the gap back to DeLucia on Sunday or Monday.
College World Series Preview
Oklahoma should be favored over Ole Miss to win the College World Series.
Although the Big 12 will win the title if the Sooners win, the victory has more of an SEC feel to it since the Sooners are closer to joining the powerhouse conference. The joke running around Omaha was that six SEC schools were really participating since Oklahoma and Texas are on the way out of the Big 12.
Oklahoma enters the College World Series championship series with an extra day of rest and a minimally used bullpen.
The Sooners did not lose in the top half of the bracket in two games against the Texas A&M Aggies and one against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The Big 12 side benefited from a seven-inning performance out of David Sandlin, and it used a single reliever in the next two innings. All of its starters and bullpen arms are ready to go for Friday.
Oklahoma played on Friday and Sunday and then waited until Wednesday to take the field against Texas A&M. The Sooners will have Jake Bennett and Cade Horton available on full rest for Games 1 and 2.
Ole Miss will not have its best pitcher available until at least Game 2 since Dylan DeLucia threw 113 pitches in a complete-game shutout victory on Thursday. Ole Miss will have its full complement of relievers fresh for Game 1 against Oklahoma.
The Rebels either need to use their bats to combat the effectiveness of Bennett, or match the Oklahoma ace's mound output in Game 1. The same could be said against Horton in Game 2, if that is the order Oklahoma chooses to run with.
Ole Miss received five hits from the first four batters in its order against Arkansas ace Connor Noland on Thursday, but it managed just two runs.
Justin Bench, Tim Elko or another top-of-the-order hitter needs to get on the Oklahoma starters early to level the playing field in Games 1 and 2.
Ole Miss has been able to limit its opponents' production in the non-DeLucia starts throughout the postseason. Only one team scored more than five runs against them.
Oklahoma's offense is a whole other beast to face. The Sooners scored 24 runs in Omaha, and they have 35 runs over their last four games.
Tanner Tredaway, Peyton Graham and the Sooners offense would love to force Ole Miss into using DeLucia in Game 2 on two days rest instead of taking him on in Game 3 with three days rest on his arm.
Oklahoma's goal is to not face DeLucia at all, but the thought is he will be utilized in some fashion on Sunday and Monday.
Ole Miss has held up well in games not thrown by its ace, which leads you to believe he could close out the series in Game 3.
As long as Ole Miss continues to limit opposing offenses, it stands a chance of getting to DeLucia no matter what happens with Oklahoma's two best pitchers.
The Sooners could also use Horton in Game 3 to combat DeLucia if they really want to get deep into strategy, but that is unlikely to happen.
Prediction: Ole Miss Wins In Three Games