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Texas vs. Mississippi, 09/15/2012 21:15
Point Spread: +10/-110 Mississippi
Saturday's NCAAF Free Pick: Ole Miss +10.5
It hasn't taken long for first year head coach Hugh Freeze to create a buzz surrounding Ole Miss football. The Rebels are 2-0 and have already matched their win total from a season ago. Freeze led Arkansas State to a 10-3 campaign (first year on the job) after they had won just four games the previous season. I'm not saying Mississippi is going to all of the sudden be a contender in the SEC, but this is a much more competitive team than what we saw last year under Houston Nutt.
I understand that Mississippi has played a couple of easy opponents in Central Arkansas and UTEP. I have certainly taken that into consideration. It is worth noting that the Rebels completely dominated both of those games. They are +445 in total yards gained/allowed, having outgained each of their opponents by 200+ yards!
This Ole Miss offense has taken off under new starting quarterback Bo Wallace, who was the 2011 JUCO PLAY OF THE YEAR! So far Wallace has lived up to the hype. Wallace threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns in the opener and another 174 yards and three scores against UTEP. It's not just his arm that opposing defenses have to worry about, he leads the Rebels with 135 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
With the help of Wallace, the Mississippi running game has taken off. Ole Miss is currently 9th in the country with an average of 283.5 ypg on the ground. I don't expect them to come close to their average against Texas, but I think they will have plenty of success. The Longhorns have allowed 137.5 ypg on the ground against a couple of relatively weak opponents.
Anytime you have a quarterback like Wallace who can turn a broken play into a big gain, it really wares on a defense. Texas has very little to go off of in preparing for Wallace and that is another key reason why I think the Rebels could pull off the upset of the weekend.
The fans in Oxford have been waiting for the Rebels to be a national factor. The excitement level at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is going to give Mississippi a lot of extra injury, especially on the defensive side of the ball. When Ole Miss is relative, this can be one of the more difficult places to play. I think you also have to take into consideration that this will be the Longhorns first game away from home, something a lot of teams struggle with.
Texas is coming off a 45-0 blowout win over Wyoming, a game in which they covered a 39-point spread. Its a good time to fade the Longhorns. They are just 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games following a S.U. win and 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games following a ATS win.
As bad as Ole Miss has been over the last two seasons, they are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 non-conference games. BET THE REBELS!