The Missouri Tigers will be looking to win their fifth straight game and remain unbeaten in the SEC when they play host to the Ole Miss Rebels this weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 EST on Saturday, October 12 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Betting odds for this game list Missouri as 12.5-point favorites with an over/under of 56 points. Click here to check out the entire college football schedule and betting odds for this week’s games.
Missouri’s puzzling loss to Wyoming in their season opener feels like a distant memory by now. The Tigers have put that game behind them with four straight wins of 20 points or more, including impressive victories against West Virginia and South Carolina. Last time out, Missouri disposed of a solid Troy team 42-10 to move to 4-1 on the season.
The goal for the Tigers moving forward is to keep up that momentum for the rest of October before facing SEC frontrunners Georgia and Florida in November. Missouri should also soak up the support from the home crowd while they still can. After this week’s game, the Tigers hit the road for three straight games. But as long as Missouri keeps winning, they have a chance to crash the Florida-Georgia party at the top of the SEC East.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss is hoping to build off last week’s win over Vanderbilt. Coming off back-to-back losses to Cal and Alabama, it was a game the Rebels needed to win, and they responded accordingly, beating Vandy 31-6 to get to 3-3 on the season.
Of course, Ole Miss still needs three wins in their final six games to get to a bowl game after being ineligible for the last couple of years. The problem is that the Rebels still play three ranked teams in Texas A&M, Auburn, and LSU, not to mention the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State away from home. With that schedule ahead of them, Saturday’s trip to Missouri has the feel of a must-win game for the Rebels.
This will be just the second game between Missouri and Ole Miss since the Tigers joined the SEC. The first game was a 24-10 win for the Tigers in Oxford in 2013. Six years later, the Rebels are ready to make their return trip to Columbia.
I’m not ready to go all-in on Missouri being a contender in the SEC East. Their 20-point win over South Carolina a couple of weeks ago is a little misleading because of two defensive touchdowns. I don’t see them getting the same kind of separation against an Ole Miss team that is hitting its stride on offense. Missouri should win, but I don’t think they’ll beat the spread.
An injury to Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral a few weeks ago may have inadvertently sparked the offense for the Rebels. Backup John Rhys Plumlee hasn’t thrown the ball with great precision, but he’s excelled running the ball. In a little over two games, he’s already the team’s second-leading rusher behind Scottie Phillips. The Rebels are also starting to get meaningful contributions from freshmen running backs Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy, giving them a deep and potent rushing attack.
Even in their loss to Alabama, the Rebels were able to run for 279 yards, getting over 100 of those yards from Plumlee. The kicker is that Corral is close to coming back from injury and could share time with Plumlee to give the Rebels more of a passing presence. Corral was in uniform last week and could have played if needed. That means the Missouri defense will have to prepare to face both quarterbacks and could end up getting a combination of Plumlee and Corral.
In fairness, the Missouri defense has been stout against the run all season. They were lit up by the Wyoming rushing attack the first week of the season but have quickly fixed their issues in the front-7. West Virginia, South Carolina, and Troy have all been held under 100 yards rushing by the Tigers. However, none of those teams had a running quarterback the way that the Rebels have Plumlee, which makes me think Ole Miss should have some success running the ball.
Meanwhile, I’m not sure the Tigers can score enough points to cover nearly two touchdowns. Kelly Bryant hasn’t posted eye-popping numbers in the passing game, at least not against some of the better teams Missouri has faced this year. Plus, the Ole Miss defense has been better than the numbers look. If you take away the game against Alabama, the Rebels are giving up less than 17 points per game against the other FBS teams they’ve played. They’re also coming off their best performance of the season, giving up just six points against Vanderbilt last week.
All things considered, the 12.5-point spread is out of my comfort zone as far as Missouri is concerned. Despite a solid run defense, I don’t think the Tigers can keep the Rebels from scoring points. I also don’t think the Missouri offense is explosive enough to pull away and win by a comfortable margin. I’d be surprised if the Tigers won by more than 10 points, which is why I’m leaning toward Ole Miss as the underdog.