Veteran sports writer Parrish Alford takes a look at the Week 10 matchups for Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.
Last time out pick record was 2-1, making 18-5 overall for the 2023 season.
Let’s take a look at the Week 10 matchups for Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.
Texas A&M at No. 10 Ole Miss
Time: 11 a.m. TV: ESPN
The Egg Bowl is the Egg Bowl and should never be taken for granted, but on paper it sure looks like the biggest obstacle between Ole Miss and a second Lane Kiffin round of 10 regular season wins – at least 10 – is Texas A&M.
This Aggies team falls somewhere between an SEC West contender and that group that often plays below its talent level.
One interesting game to keep an eye on this week is Missouri at Georgia. Missouri and Ole Miss are similar in the sense that both are SEC climbers, both in contention for division titles in November, the Rebels in need of some help in that regard.
Georgia has been criticized for a strength-of-schedule rating of 100 according to ESPN. If the Bulldogs beat Missouri it will be their first win against a ranked team.
Ole Miss is at Georgia next week.
Could the Rebels pull off a win in Athens?
Oh the possibilities, but they all hinge on first beating Texas A&M Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
A&M has been close but hasn’t been able to make the plays in the games that would have it solidly in the Top 25 right now.
The Aggies have gotten better from a 48-33 loss at Miami in Week 2. They’ve lost by six at home against Alabama and by seven at Tennessee.
Ole Miss faces a challenge against the Texas A&M defense, led by D.J. Durkin, Lane Kiffin’s first defensive coordinator at Ole Miss.
The Aggies rank No. 13 nationally in rushing defense giving up just 96.1 yards a game.
They lead the SEC with just 173.1 passing yards per game allowed.
They rank seventh nationally in third-down defense, limiting opponents to a 29 percent success rate. Third-down offense has plagued Ole Miss at times this season.
Numerically, Ole Miss has been pretty solid with good run-pass balance, but this A&M defense hasn’t allowed a team to throw and run for 100 yards in the same game.
That’s pretty impressive.
The Aggies held South Carolina to just 209 yards in a 30-17 win last week. The Gamecocks had just 33 yards on the ground.
It was a similar defensive performance for Ole Miss, which held Vanderbilt to 229 yards in a 33-7 win, though the Commodores rushed for 169 yards.
Ole Miss is giving up 135.4 rushing yards per game, 54th nationally. The Rebels have come a long way since the first play of the Pete Golding Era was a 75-yard touchdown run up the gut by Mercer quarterback Carter Peevy.
Golding isn’t impressed by a No. 54 rushing defense ranking, but many Ole Miss fans can remember languishing in the 100s for years.
Last year the Rebels were No. 89 at 168 yards a game under former DC Chris Partridge.
A&M comes in averaging 128.5 yards a game on the ground.
The Aggies had high hopes for sophomore quarterback Conner Weigman, but he sustained a foot injury in Week 4 against Auburn.
Max Johnson, formerly of LSU, has starting experience and has been a capable if not electric fill-in.
Johnson is completing passes with 58.7 percent success with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Rebels left points on the table against Vanderbilt. They’ll have fewer opportunities against A&M and need to cash in when down close.
Jaxson Dart needs a turnover-free game, and Quinson Judkins needs to show the form he showed last week but against a better defense.
The Rebels need to know where linebacker Edgerrin Cooper is at all times and get him blocked. He’s totaled 11 ½ tackles for loss and seven sacks in conference play.
In short, the Rebels’ best players need to be at their best.
Prediction: Ole Miss 22, Texas A&M 19
Kentucky at Mississippi State
Time: 6:30 p.m. TV: SEC Network
I had a feeling State’s defensive performance in a 7-3 win at Arkansas two weeks ago was as much about the Hogs as the Dogs.
It looked that way when struggling Auburn had amassed 301 yards – 192 and three touchdowns through the air – and led 24-3 at halftime last week.
The Bulldogs played better defensively in the second half before falling 27-13. The hole was way too big for a team that continues to struggle offensively without starting quarterback Will Rogers.
MSU coach Zach Arnett has played cloak-and-dagger with Rogers’ status each week. Word on the street is Rogers won’t play again this week, but that’s a wait-and-see thing.
If Rogers isn’t available it’s time to see Chris Parson in a game in my humble opinion.
Not that sending out a true freshman against an SEC defense for his first college start would make a huge difference. It’s actually unfair to put Parson in that situation and expect big things even from a four-star signee with some mobility.
It’s clear, however, that Mike Wright isn’t generating enough offense to win games.
Maybe the answer is a Wright-Parson package with some creativity in the play-calling.
One thing’s for sure: Kentucky is getting more out of its Vanderbilt transfer than State is getting from Wright’s stuff. Running back Ray Davis, once a Commodore, leads the SEC in rushing at 102.9 yards a game and is tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns with nine.
State’s own top rusher, Woody Marks, might also be shelved again, another setback for the Bulldogs.
The reality here is what Kentucky does well on offense – Ray Davis – matches up with State’s stronger part of its defense. The Bulldogs have had better units against the run – they’re ranked No. 53 with 134.9 yards per game allowed right now – but they’ve been terrible against the pass.
Quarterback Devin Leary has thrown 16 touchdown passes – second in the SEC – but the Wildcats are No. 11 in team passing efficiency. Leary will be a threat against the MSU secondary because everyone is.
State’s solid linebacker play of Jett Johnson and Nathaniel Watson, Nos. 1 and 2 in the SEC in tackles, should keep Davis from going off.
That could leave Leary as the X factor.
Even if Rogers makes a surprise appearance he could be rusty and need some time to round into form.
If Rogers doesn’t play Kentucky has a clear advantage at the game’s most important position.
This is a series where some strange things have happened through the years.
It’s also one where Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has never won.
That changes this year.
Prediction: Kentucky 27, Mississippi State 20
Louisiana-Monroe at Southern Miss
Time: 3 p.m. Streaming: ESPN-Plus
The Sun Belt Conference West Division winner won’t be decided Saturday, but the cellar could very well be locked up for the loser.
The Golden Eagles and Warhawks, my alma mater, are both 0-5 in conference play, three games back of four different teams tied at 2-2 who could still catch division-leading Troy (3-1).
ULM and Southern Miss have had similar paths of the occasional blowout loss and the handful of heartbreakers that could have been won if a single play had turned out differently.
The Warhawks lost 41-40 at home against Appalachian State when the Mountaineers hit a 54-yard field goal as time expired. Turns out the photo that quickly circulated on social media showed the game clock at zero before App State snapped the ball. Time actually had expired, but ULM lost anyway.
The Southern Miss equivalent was on Oct. 7 when running back Frank Gore was stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 2, and Old Dominion took over to run out the clock in a 17-13 win.
The teams share common humiliation against South Alabama, ULM losing 55-7 on Oct. 7, Southern Miss losing 55-3 on Oct. 17.
Combined they’ve lost 13-straight games.
Both teams have had their share of injuries, but at some point you have to find a way to execute, and they have not found that enough.
One silver lining for both is that they’ve continued to put forth effort.
The cellar will be avoided by the team that makes the fewest mistakes.
Southern Miss can’t afford to fumble at its own 1 late in the third quarter as it did last week in a 48-38 loss at App State.
ULM’s secondary can’t give up chunk plays with every pass completion as it did last week when Arkansas State averaged 19.9 yards per completion in a 34-24 win in Monroe.
This game really should end in a tie, but modern-day rules prohibit such.
Prediction: Southern Miss 29, ULM 28
Recipe of the Week
Crock Pot Potato Soup
Emily Alford turned her parents onto this one.
- 1 ½ bags of 32-ounce shredded hash browns.
- 3 14.5-ounce cans of chicken broth.
- 1 package Ranch salad dressing mix.
- 1 small can cream of chicken soup.
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese.
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, cubed.
- 1 pound of bacon cooked and chopped.
Combine hash browns, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, ranch dressing and bacon in a six-quarter slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for eight hours. Fifteen minutes before serving stir in cheddar cheese and cream cheese until melted. Whisk cheese to even consistency.
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