After each endured difficult losses that potentially derailed their shot at an SEC crown, the No. 15 Texas A&M Aggies and No. 24 Ole Miss Rebels return to action in Saturday night’s pivotal conference showdown at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Both squads remain in contention for the SEC West crown, though the host Rebels will need a victory over the Aggies and for No. 8 Alabama and No. 5 LSU to tumble following last week’s demoralizing loss to previously unranked Memphis.
At one point the nation’s highest-scoring offense, Ole Miss converted only four third downs and gained 40 total rushing yards in the 37-24 loss to the Tigers. Quarterback Chad Kelly equaled his two touchdowns with two picks, but also threw for 372 yards, hitting leading-receiver Laquon Treadwell 14 times for 144 yards and one of those scores.
But it was the Rebels defense, after holding its previous six opponents to 19.6 points per game, which truly struggled. Ole Miss let up 491 total yards and 31 first downs to Memphis, and couldn’t overcome a 17-point explosion in the second quarter.
The setback hasn’t exactly hurt Ole Miss’s standing in the SEC from a statistical standpoint. The Rebels are still first in points scored (43.6) and offensive yardage (521.0), while Kelly beats out the rest of the conference’s quarterbacks with a 161.89 rating and 2,234 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Still, the Rebels nosedived 11 spots in the national rankings and are now fourth in the conference’s subdivision as a result, but can get back on track against the equally wounded Aggies.
Texas A&M endured its first loss of the season last week, falling to Alabama 41-23 because it had no answer for Tide running back Derrick Henry and his 236 rushing yards and committed four turnovers.
Three of those giveaways came from quarterback Kyle Allen, who finished the day with 263 passing yards after going 20-for-40 from the pocket. His mishaps could be partially excused by the Tide secondary’s blistering performance, holding leading receivers Josh Reynolds and Christian Kirk to 10 catches for 146 yards and no touchdowns.
Despite their lack of production, Kirk’s still second in the SEC with 609 yards and four touchdowns and Reynolds is only four spots back with 439 yards and three scores on the year.
Just behind the Rebels, Texas A&M owned the second-worst drop in the national rankings, going from No. 9 to No. 15.
But the Aggies and Rebels can turn their respective fortunes around, especially Ole Miss as it hosts its first ranked opponent of the season.
The Aggies, however, own the all-time series mark at 6-1 and have gone 2-1 against Ole Miss since joining the SEC. Still, the Rebels did pull off a 35-20 victory in College Station last season.
Betting Odds: Ole Miss -6 points
Over/Under: 66 points
Prediction: Ole Miss over Texas A&M, 40-35