No. 15 Texas A&M, No. 24 Ole Miss trying to bounce back
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Texas A&M and Mississippi are good teams that didn’t play very good football last weekend.
Now the 15th-ranked Aggies (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) must travel to face the 24th-ranked Rebels (5-2, 2-1) on Saturday in a vital Western Division game for both teams.
Both teams have plenty of football-related issues to work out. But the most important developments that could decide Saturday’s game don’t necessarily involve Xs and Os.
Ole Miss is coming off a sobering 37-24 loss to Memphis. The Rebels have lost two of four games since an upset win over Alabama in late September.
”We are going to see Saturday night if the heart is there,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. ”I’m sure we will do what we have done every week and prepare them to have that. It is an individual decision. I am going to do everything within my power that I can to make sure that occurs.”
Texas A&M fell flat in a 41-23 loss to Alabama last weekend. The Aggies were plagued my mistakes – quarterback Kyle Allen threw three interceptions that were all returned for touchdowns.
Texas A&M can take solace in the fact that it has played well in Oxford in the recent past. The Aggies beat the Rebels 30-27 in 2012 and 41-38 in 2013, but both those thrillers came when Johnny Manziel was throwing the football all over the field.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin still believes the good vibes will come in handy.
”Here’s what’s going to be important – we will have been there three times in four years,” Sumlin said. ”We’re used to going over there. Don’t know how that schedule worked but that’s the way it worked.”
Here are some things to watch when No. 24 Ole Miss hosts No. 15 Texas A&M:
WHO BOUNCES BACK? Ole Miss and Texas A&M are both coming off disappointing losses. The Rebels fell to Memphis 37-24 last weekend while Texas A&M dropped a 41-23 game to Alabama. That team that’s able to make the biggest recovery mentally might have the best opportunity to win on Saturday.
THE TUNSIL FACTOR: Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil returns to the field for the first time this season after serving a seven-game NCAA suspension for receiving illegal benefits. His presence should be a big boost for the Ole Miss, especially when it comes to protecting quarterback Chad Kelly. Texas A&M ranks third in the league with 20 sacks.
CAN ALLEN BOUNCE BACK: Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen has had a good season, but is coming off easily his worst game in the loss to Alabama. Allen threw three interceptions that were returned for touchdowns against the Tide. The Aggies need him to bounce back in a big way.
KELLY-TREADWELL CONNECTION: Ole Miss junior Chad Kelly has been the league’s most prolific quarterback, throwing for 2,234 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. His favorite target is junior Laquon Treadwell, who has recovered from a broken leg last year and leads the league with 49 catches for 654 yards and four touchdowns.
A LITTLE DEFENSE: Ole Miss and Texas A&M are both good offensive teams that sometimes have a little trouble on the defensive side of the ball. The Rebels are giving up 30.3 points per game in three SEC contests, which ranks 13th out of 14 league teams. The Aggies are marginally better, but still struggle against the run. They’re giving up 228.7 yards per game on the ground in three SEC games.
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