FACTS & STATS: Site: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580) -- Oxford, Mississippi. Television: CSS. Home Record: Idaho 1-2, Ole Miss 2-1. Away Record: Idaho 0-4, Ole Miss 2-2. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-0, Ole Miss 0-0. Conference Record: Idaho 0-0, Ole Miss 2-3. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Fresh off one of the biggest upsets of the season, the Ole Miss Rebels will try to keep the momentum going on Saturday afternoon in their Homecoming matchup with the Idaho Vandals.
Idaho has just one win this season in seven tries, as it defeated Temple back on Sept. 28, 26-24. Since that win, the Vandals have dropped two in a row, most recently falling at Arkansas State on Oct. 12, 48-24. They have been one of the most futile teams in the nation over the past few years, winning just four games since the start of the 2011 season.
After starting the season 3-0 and even sneaking into the Top-25, Ole Miss turned ice-cold in a hurry with three straight losses, albeit all three defeats came to teams that are currently ranked (Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M). The Rebels' brutal schedule continued last weekend as they hosted No. 6 LSU, and they captured an outstanding 27-24 triumph thanks to a last-second field goal to improve to 2-3 in the SEC.
These two programs have never previously met.
Simply put, Idaho's offensive attack has not been up to snuff this season, as it ranks 114th in the nation in putting up a meager 16.4 ppg. Things have improved in recent weeks, if ever so slightly, with the Vandals averaging 21.3 ppg over their last three contests.
Chad Chalich has performed better than his team's stats or record would indicate. The signal caller is completing more than 61 percent of his passes and has tossed just three interceptions on 184 attempts, but he is averaging less than 175 passing yards per game with a modest five touchdowns. His status for his contest is questionable with an arm injury, and if he is unable to go the starting nod will likely go to Taylor Davis, as Josh McCain is also listed as questionable (shoulder).
The Vandals have made a commitment to the run, with 67 more rush plays than pass plays, but the results have been far from stellar, as the team averages just 3.2 yards per carry. James Baker leads the way with 348 yards and five scores.
Dezmon Epps is able to stretch the field out wide with team-highs in receptions (46), receiving yards (493) and touchdowns (two), and he should be able to provide a quality safety blanket for the backup QB if Chalich is unable to go.
Amazingly enough, Idaho's defense has performed even worse than its offense as only two teams in the FBS have allowed more points per game (43.1 ppg).
Marc Millan leads the unit with 56 tackles, and he has added 5.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks. QuayShawne Buckley has been productive behind the line of scrimmage with 8.0 TFL and 3.0 TFL, while Jayshawn Jordan has one of the team's seven interceptions to go with six passes defended.
Ole Miss's offense has been strong this season, scoring 28.7 ppg while tallying 446.6 ypg. Its performance against an outstanding LSU defense last weekend was arguably its best of the season, as it piled up 525 yards and converted 11-of-18 third downs.
The offense runs through quarterback Bo Wallace, and he has made plays both with his arm (.622 completion percentage, 1,790 yards, three TDs) and his legs (162 yards, three TDs). He is also protective of the ball, throwing just three interceptions. Backup QB Barry Brunetti has a handful of packages designed for him around the goal line, and he has cashed in with three passing and three rushing touchdowns.
Jeff Scott is the team's leading ground gainer with 434 yards, but he missed the LSU game with a thigh injury. He remains questionable for this matchup, and in the event he doesn't suit up, Jaylen Walton will fill in once again and attempt to improve upon his 105-yard, two-touchdown performance versus LSU.
Laquon Treadwell in Wallace's most trusted receiver when it comes to moving the chains, as he has caught 39 balls for 370 yards and two touchdowns. Donte Moncrief has more big-play ability, turning 29 catches into 465 yards and four scores.
The Rebels defense is rather modest in terms of their statistics (27.3 ppg, 397.4 ypg), but the unit shined against Zach Mettenberger last week, forcing the star quarterback to throw a season-high three interceptions.
Cody Prewitt had one of the three picks last week and now has a team-high four interceptions on the season to go with 42 tackles and two forced fumbles. Serderius Bryant has missed the last two contests with a head injury and remains questionable, but he still leads the team in total tackles (55) and TFL (6.0).
After suffering through a rough stretch of games, Ole Miss can finally breath a sigh of relief after defeating a very worthy opponent. Don't expect a letdown in this one, as the Rebels will be eager to beat up on the Vandals to give their crowd a satisfying Homecoming.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ole Miss 48, Idaho 20
Saturday, October 26, 7:30 p.m. (et)