Preview: LSU, Ole Miss Renew Rivalry Saturday Night
Assoc. Athletic Director/Communications
BATON ROUGE – A fierce rivalry between two Southeastern Conference Western Division opponents takes a new twist on Saturday night when No. 23 LSU hosts No. 22 Ole Miss in what will be a sold out Tiger Stadium.
Kickoff between the Tigers and Rebels is set for 8:15 p.m. with ESPN broadcasting the contest. Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Jesse Palmer (analyst), and Kaylee Hartung (sideline reporter) will call the action for ESPN.
The game will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network with the Voice of the Tigers Chris Blair, Doug Moreau (analyst) and Gordy Rush (sideline reporter) calling the action. The game can be heard in the Baton Rouge area on Eagle 98.1 FM or on the internet for free exclusively at www.LSUsports.net/live.
LSU is coming off another dominant performance last week, outscoring Southern Miss, 35-0, in the second half on its way to a 45-10 win over the Golden Eagles. LSU is 4-2 overall and 2-1 in SEC play. The Rebels fell to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in league play last week when Arkansas rallied for a 34-30 win in Fayetteville. Ole Miss’ other two losses came to Florida State (45-34) and top-ranked Alabama (48-43).
The LSU-Ole Miss contest added a new storyline earlier this month when Ed Orgeron was elevated to head coach of the Tigers. Orgeron, who has led LSU to a 2-0 record as head coach, held the same position at Ole Miss from 2005-07.
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On Saturday, Orgeron joins Mike Donahue, Bernie Moore, Curley Hallman and Gerry DiNardo as LSU head coaches who coached against their former team. Donahue beat Auburn in 1926 and 1927 as head coach at LSU; Moore beat Mercer in 1940; DiNardo defeated Vanderbilt and 1996 and 1997; and Hallman lost to Southern Miss in 1994.
While the Orgeron-Ole Miss matchup has plenty of intrigue, the LSU coach has made this week about getting the Tigers to play the Rebels, nothing else.
“It's all about them (the players),” Orgeron said of the game. “That's (coaching against his former team) is the furthest thing from my mind. This is about the LSU Tigers. This is about this football team. This is about a very good opponent coming into Tiger Stadium.”
LSU and Ole Miss enter the game as ranked opponents for just the 10th time in the series with the Tigers hold a 6-3 advantage in those contests. Last year, Ole Miss posted a 38-17 win over the Tigers in Oxford. The home team has won the last six times the team have played, which includes a 10-7 LSU victory over the Rebels in Tiger Stadium in 2014.
The game will feature one of the top offenses in the league in Ole Miss – a team that is averaging nearly 40 points and 475 yards per game against an LSU defense that hasn’t given up more than 20 points in a game this year.
When LSU has the ball….
The Tigers have put together back-to-back impressive offensive performances under newly appointed coordinator Steve Ensminger. In two games, the Tiger offense has racked up 87 points and nearly 1,100 yards in wins over Missouri and Southern Miss.
As a unit, LSU has upped its average to 28.5 points per game to go along with 408.5 total yards a contest (228.0 rushing, 180.5 passing).
Junior quarterback Danny Etling, now 3-1 as LSU’s starter, has done a great job of spreading the ball around in the passing game. He has completed passes to 10 different receivers the past two games and he’s thrown TD passes of 80, 63, and 23 yards.
In five games, Etling has completed 70-of-119 passes for 925 yards, six touchdowns and just two interceptions.
The Tigers will get a boost to the offense with the return of All-America running back Leonard Fournette, who has missed the last two games with a sore ankle. In three games this year, Fournette has rushed for 386 yards (128.7 yards per game) and two TDs.
He’s joined in the backfield by sophomore Derrius Guice, who leads the SEC with 9.1 yards per carry. In six games, Guice has gone over the 100-yard mark three times and he ranks among the SEC leaders in rushing yards (564) and rushing TDs (6).
The Tigers will face an Ole Miss defense that is allowing 30.3 points and ranks last in the SEC in total defense (446.0 yards per game), No. 12 in rushing defense (212.8 yards per game) and No. 11 in pass defense (233.2 yards per game).
When Ole Miss has the ball….
The Tigers will be out to stop arguably the best quarterback in the SEC in senior Chad Kelly, who leads the league in passing yards per game (308.2) and total offense (343.7). In six games, Kelly has accounted for 1,849 passing yards and another 213 rushing yards. He’s also thrown for 14 TDs and rushed for three scores.
As a unit, the Rebels are among the best in the SEC in scoring offense (No. 3 at 39.7), total offense (No. 5 at 475.8) and they lead the league in passing offense at 320.0 yards per game.
Ole Miss also features one of the SEC’s top pass catchers in Evan Engram, who has caught 37 passes for 590 yards and five touchdowns.
The Tigers will look to slow down the high-powered Ole Miss offense with a defense that is allowing just 14.0 points per game, second in the SEC. The Tigers have allowed only six touchdowns all year, which leads the nation.
Overall, LSU ranks No. 2 in the SEC in rushing defense (103.7), No. 3 in total defense (312.0) and No. 5 in pass defense (208.3). LSU has given up an SEC-best three passing TDs all season and their three rushing touchdowns allowed is tied with Alabama for fewest in the league.
Individually, linebacker Kendell Beckwith leads the Tigers and ranks No. 2 in the SEC with 60 tackles, while outside linebacker/defensive end Arden Key leads the conference in sack with 7.0 and he’s No. 8 in tackles for loss with 7.5.
After Saturday, the Tigers will enjoy an open date next week before returning to action on Nov. 5 when LSU hosts top-ranked Alabama in Tiger Stadium.