It's GameDay: Old Rivals Square Off in Oxford
Sr. Assoc. Athletic Director/SID
OXFORD, Miss. – LSU will look to build on what was its best defensive effort of the season last week against Florida while attempting to keep its offense on record-setting pace when the sixth-ranked Tigers travel to face Ole Miss in a key Southeastern Conference contest at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium here Saturday night.
Kickoff between the Tiger and the Rebels is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2 with Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen and Maria Taylor on the call. The game can also be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network and in the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net with Jim Hawthorne, Gordy Rush and Bill Franques calling the action.
LSU ran its record to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC play with a 17-6 win over 17th-ranked Florida last week. Ole Miss, which had climbed to as high as No. 21 in the national polls before a 25-0 loss to top-ranked Alabama, has dropped three straight and brings a 3-3 overall mark and a 1-3 league record in to the game.
LSU has won three straight and nine of the last 11 games against the Rebels, which includes a 41-35 win last year in Tiger Stadium in a game that saw three ties and four lead changes. Ole Miss last beat LSU, 25-23, in 2009 in Oxford. The Rebels also beat the Tigers 31-13 in Baton Rouge in 2008 for their only two wins over LSU dating back to the 2002 season.
LSU GameDay Info
#6 LSU (6-1, 3-1 SEC)
Ticket Will Call for LSU fans opens at 4:15 p.m. CT at gate 17 of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Kickoff: 6:08 p.m. CDT
Driving Directions (Baton Rouge to Oxford, Miss. -- 347 mi.; 5h, 1m)
Three of the last four and seven of the last 11 games between LSU and Ole Miss have been decided by a touchdown or less.
“We are expecting a typical LSU-Ole Miss game,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “No matter the records or the circumstance, it always seems like we when lineup against Ole Miss it’s a battle that goes down to the very end. This will be a great challenge to us on the road again. Ole Miss has a quality defense and an offense that can move the ball up and down the field. We are going to have to play the style of football that we’ve become accustomed to.
“We expect to be challenged in every phase of the game. We’ve had a good week of preparation so now it’s about going out and executing the plan and see how we stack up.”
LSU goes into Saturday’s game coming off its best defensive showing of the year as the Tigers held Florida to just a pair of field goals and only 240 total yards in the 17-6 victory last week in Tiger Stadium. LSU’s defense has limited opponents to only three field goal in its last six quarters of action dating back to halftime of the Mississippi State game two weeks ago.
In the win over Florida, LSU’s defense set season highs in sacks (4), tackles for loss (8) and quarterback hurries (5) as the Tigers forced the Gators to punt on five of their eight possessions.
“Coach Chavis and the defensive staff have done a great job in getting that group ready to play,” Miles said. “I thought we gave great effort last week against Florida and we really made some tremendous strides in that game. The key is to build on that and to continue to play with confidence and the understanding of playing your assignment, nothing more. I think early in the year we had players trying to do too much.”
Against Ole Miss, the Tiger defense will be forced to deal with a two-quarterback system, one that is led by Bo Wallace, who ranks among the league leaders in passing with 1,444 yards and nine touchdowns.
Wallace has also rushed for 144 yards and three TDs for the Rebels making him one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the league.
“He’s a very capable runner,” Miles said of Wallace. “He’s going to take what you give him. What you do is, you have to account for the quarterback and all the things that you’re doing. And then, you have to tackle him well. He’s a very capable quarterback, one of the reasons that Ole Miss’ offense is so successful. You’re going to have to defend him with multiplicity. You can’t just sit on the run and let him throw, or just cover and let him run. It’s kind of a mixture and we’ve worked on disguising our defense throughout the week.”
Linebacker Lamin Barrow is coming off his best outing of the season with 13 tackles in the win over Florida, while defensive Danielle Hunter was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after recording a career-best seven tackles and a pair of pass breakups in the win over the Gators.
Offensively, LSU continues to have one of the most prolific units in the league, averaging 41.4 points and 465.7 total yards (194.1 rushing, 271.6 passing). LSU scored 35 or more points and rolled up 400 yards of total offense in its first six games of the season.
Last week against Florida, LSU throttled back on the passing game and took advantage of its offensive line that was dominating the line of scrimmage to control the clock in the second half with the running game. Jeremy Hill, who leads the SEC with nine rushing TDs, ran for 121 yards on just 19 carries last week in the win over the Gators as the Tigers rushed for 175 yards against a Florida team that was leading the league with just 65 rushing yards allowed per game.
For the season, Hill has rushed for 715 yards on just 98 carries and he’s second in the SEC with 119.2 rushing yards per game. He’s backed up by Terrence Magee (251 yards, 3 TDs), Alfred Blue (212 yards, 1 TD) and Kenny Hilliard (164 yards, 5 TDs).
Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger continues to lead the SEC in pass efficiency, having completed 116-of-174 passes for 1,890 yards, 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Mettenberger, who will be making his 21st consecutive start on Saturday, is 16-4 as LSU’s starting quarterback.
Mettenberger’s top targets are a pair of juniors in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., who have combined to catch 83 passes for 1,407 yards and 13 of LSU’s 15 passing touchdowns. Landry leads the team with 46 catches for 674 yards and seven touchdowns, while Beckham Jr. has hauled in 37 passes for 733 yards and six scores.
“We are going to take what the defense gives us,” Miles said of the offensive philosophy. “We’ve had games this year where we felt like passing the ball gave us the best opportunity to win and then last week, we felt like we got into a groove with the running game so we stayed with it. We are versatile enough on offense to be able to do both.”
After Saturday, the Tigers return home to host Furman in a non-conference game for Homecoming.