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On Saturday, 12:30 PM EST, the #11 Indiana Hoosiers (6-1) will take on the Ole Miss Rebels (4-5) in the Outback Bowl in Tampa Florida. The game can be viewed on ABC. Here’s what you need to know ahead of kick off:
This matchup screams unstoppable force meets immovable wall. The unstoppable force is Ole Miss. Offensively the Rebels currently rank third in the country, with 562 yards per game on offense.
The immovable wall is Indiana. Outside of the Ohio State game where they gave up 35 points and 607 yards, Indiana has been outstanding defensively. Even with that game on the resume, they’re top 20 in points allowed. They blitz more effectively than anyone I’ve seen in the country, causing 20 turnovers in seven games. They’re no slouch.
This game also features two of the most personable coaches in the sport. Indiana’s Head Coach Tom Allen may be the most loved coach in the country. His players stormed his interview after the Wisconsin game, chanting “Love you coach!” Allen rallies his players in a way very few others can.
For Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin is simply a dude. He’s far past where he was, maturing from his stints at Alabama and Florida Atlantic. Conversely, he can still mesh with the young guys. He’s still humorous when it comes to press conferences and stands tall for his players.
Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. going down for the season with an ACL injury could have drowned this team. However, they rallied hard behind backup Jack Tuttle. This team just doesn’t skip a beat when it comes to matching intensity and rising to the occasion.
On offense, Indiana runs a diverse passing attack that really benefits any quarterback. It’s many bunch sets, filled with pick plays and deep shots. This gets underneath routes open and gives wide receivers on the outside one-on-one opportunities. Indiana does have a massive flaw on offense, though.
Even with talented running backs like Stevie Scott III and Sampson James, the Hoosiers are only averaging 2.9 yards per carry. That is abysmal. Indiana is 6-1 as a one dimensional team. If they can get some production on the ground this game, they’ll be in business.
Ole Miss this season has a balance you don’t want to have. They balance their ridiculously good offense with a ridiculously bad defense. In nine games, the Rebels have given up over 30 points seven times. Even worse, they’ve given up more than 40 in five of those games.
To compliment this awful defense, Lane Kiffin let’s his offense play wide open. It’s a high risk, high reward offense in the passing game. Quarterback Matt Corral loves to push the ball downfield, hence the 333 yards per game. With all those shots comes value with 27 TDs, but the 14 interceptions are certainly the risk.
Though pass-first, the Rebels are more than capable on the ground. They still account for over 200 yards per game running the ball. Kiffin just has to pick and choose the correct way to operate against an opportunistic Hoosier defense.
Players to Watch:
Ole Miss – Quarterback Matt Corral
This offense goes how he goes. If he can move the ball in the air, the run game opens up.
Indiana – Wide Receiver Ty Fryfogle
Nobody in the conference, maybe even country, made more contested catches. There’s a reason he was named the Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year.