KEYS FOR VICTORY
1. Take it seriously
Hugh Freeze has spent the week reminding his team of its sub-standard mental performance in a 31-13 win over Southeast Missouri that was marred by Ole Miss turnovers and mistakes.
As Ole Miss offensive lineman Emmanuel McCray said earlier in the week, “Every team has talent.”
In this case the Rebels have more and can carry confidence into the open date with a clean, crisp effort against the Vandals.
2. Pressure the passer
The pass rush reappeared against LSU with three sacks and numerous other pressures against LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
The Tigers had stretches during which protection was better. Ole Miss can take control of this game early if it gets in the backfield against what will likely be the third quarterback on Idaho’s depth chart.
3. No mistakes on offense
The fumble by I’Tavius Mathers against LSU was a rare give-away by an Ole Miss running back.
Penalties have not been so rare. Ole Miss is the seventh-most penalized team in the SEC at 42.3 yards a game.
If the Rebels don’t set themselves back with the flags they will take control of the game early.
WHAT TO WATCH
When Idaho has the ball
With their top two quarterbacks both nursing shoulder injuries earlier this week the Vandals are expected to turn to Taylor Davis, a senior who has started four games over the last two years but had dropped to third on the depth chart.
Davis had some success moving the offense when he entered in the third quarter in Jonesboro as the Vandals trailed Arkansas State 31-7 en route to a 48-24 loss.
Idaho will use a fullback but has been a mostly pass-oriented offense, averaging 222.7 yards a game through the air.
When Ole Miss has the ball
The Rebels showed off their depth at running back last week against LSU when backup Jaylen Walton rushed for 105 yards.
Jeff Scott may be healthy enough to play, but look for Walton and I’Tavius Mathers to carry the day for the ground game against an Idaho defense that has allowed 219.4 rushing yards a game against a schedule whose only BCS-level opponent to date is Washington State.
How much Bo Wallace plays will be determined by how many points he and the starters can put on the scoreboard.
The preference for Hugh Freeze would be to play this game the way he did the Southeast Missouri game in Week 2 – have the Rebels build a big lead with his starters and rest them as much as he can.
Ole Miss vs. itself
Yes, a number of key Ole Miss players are injured and trying to heal for the stretch run. Yes, the Rebels are coming off an emotional win over a traditional rival.
The fact remains that Ole Miss has more talent and will likely face a quarterback judged by his coach to be the third-best at Idaho.
This will be another challenge for Hugh Freeze and his staff.
The Rebels need to put the aforementioned factors out of their minds and play with the focus and intensity that was missing against Southeast Missouri State.