KEYS FOR VICTORY
1. Clean up the penalties
The Rebels only had 35 yards in penalties last week, fewer than the Hogs, but there were a number of toe-stubbing pre-snap flags.
At face value, a 5-yard penalty isn’t usually a drive killer, but they indicate a lack of focus that begins to manifest itself in other areas if a team isn’t careful.
Freeze described the Rebels as “sluggish” last week. It’s a good sign that Ole Miss was able to play less than its best and win an SEC game, but it won’t be a good sign if sluggish play – regardless of opponent – becomes a trend, and the Rebels don’t need to be caught looking ahead to Missouri.
2. Force turnovers
The Rebels really didn’t do a very good job of this against an Arkansas team that was prone to give it way. So, too, is Troy, and Ole Miss can put this one to bed early if it can get a few take-aways and turn them into points.
3. Stay healthy
While the Rebels don’t want to look ahead to Missouri next week, they have Missouri coming in next week.
The first step to winning out after the open date was to beat an Arkansas team that was better than its record. Mission accomplished.
With a win the Rebels will need a good head of steam heading into the Missouri game and will need all hands on deck against the SEC’s newest Tigers.
WHAT TO WATCH
When Troy has the ball
The Trojans are going to fling it around and score points. At least, that’s what they’ve done in most games.
There isn’t a large body of work against BCS level opponents, but in those games Troy scored 31 in a seven-point loss to Duke and scored only seven while giving up 62 to Mississippi State.
Trojans quarterback Corey Robinson has a 145.5 passer rating. He leads the Sun Belt Conference with 19 touchdown passes and is just 170 passing yards from 3,000 for the season, a figure he’ll likely hit today since he’s averaging almost 300 yards a game.
Troy will pass to set up the run and has three backs that have run for at least 390 yards, those three ranking among the top 11 rushers in the Sun Belt.
When Ole Miss has the ball
The Rebels will try to revive a run game that was lagging against Arkansas. The Rebels were solid on the ground on one drive but ended up settling for a 19-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Running back Jeff Scott dressed but did not play against the Razorbacks.
Don’t look for the Rebels to be too stubborn with the run game. Hugh Freeze will be just as content with Bo Wallace throwing high percentage passes – which the Rebels consider to be an extension of the run game, anyway.
Troy has struggled to stop the pass, and Wallace is coming off a career-high in passing yards with 407 plus three touchdowns against the Hogs, two of them from 50-plus yards away.
Ole Miss secondary vs. Troy receivers
The Trojans have an athletic group, but if you cover them Troy has not shown an ability to adapt and win games on the ground.
The Rebels’ nine passes intercepted is tied for fifth in the SEC. Ole Miss is allowing 211.9 yards a game, 26th nationally, sixth in the league.