By Parrish Alford
Week 3 of the college football season will require the top players from Northeast Mississippi’s two SEC schools to go on the clock again.
Ole Miss – ranked No. 25 this week – and Mississippi State were able to give starters a break against FCS foes on Saturday.
MSU won 51-7 against Alcorn State without the services of ailing quarterback Tyler Russell or running back Ladarius Perkins.
Ole Miss rested quarterback Bo Wallace and running back Jeff Scott for the second half of a 31-13 win over Southeast Missouri State. Cornerback Charles Sawyer was held out entirely.
With their first win of the season in pocket, the Bulldogs (1-1) travel to an improved Auburn (2-0) team on Saturday night.
In the absence of Russell, MSU quarterback Dak Prescott passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another as the Bulldogs rolled up 556 yards.
MSU also got a strong debut from freshman running back Ashton Shumpert. The former Itawamba AHS and Tupelo standout nearly reached 100 yards gaining 98 on 22 attempts with two touchdowns.
Backup quarterback play at Ole Miss wasn’t as impressive. The Rebels built their four-touchdown lead on the strength of two touchdown passes from Wallace. With Wallace on the bench, Barry Brunetti rushed for 111 yards but also fumbled twice and was unable to lead a second-half scoring drive.
The Rebels are at Texas on Saturday night. The Longhorns were ranked No. 15 last week but were dealt a 40-21 loss at BYU in which their defense gave up 679 yards.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said the second half of the Southeast Missouri game underscored a lack of the necessary quality of reserves for the Rebels.
“I’ve said that all along, our depth chart doesn’t look like an SEC depth chart yet. We’re getting there, but the kids that played those snaps should have played with a lot more energy than I saw,” Freeze said.
Seven SEC teams
Ole Miss, in the national polls for the first time since the end of the 2009 season, is one of seven SECteams in this week’s Top 25.
Alabama, which was off last week, remains No. 1.
WHO WON THE WEEK?
Sports editor John L. Pitts gives his take: Never mind what happened on the field Saturday, there’s going to be a football building with Olivia Manning’s name on it. That’s cool.
Winner: Manning family