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Ole Miss Rebels vs. Texas A&M Aggies Game Preview and Prediction

Bo Wallace

Bo Wallace

Texas A&M and Ole Miss enter their Week 7 showdown in College Station with a different mindset following last Saturday’s action. For the Aggies, the matchup against the Rebels represents an opportunity to get back on track after both sides of the ball were dominated in a loss to Mississippi State. On the Ole Miss sideline, this game is another opportunity to prove this team is a SEC West title contender, and the Rebels have a chance to land a potential knockout blow to Texas A&M’s hopes of contending in the SEC West.

Texas A&M is 6-0 in the overall series against Ole Miss. These two teams have met only twice as SEC opponents, with the Aggies winning both games by just three points.

Ole Miss at Texas A&M

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

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Three Things to Watch

1. Ole Miss’ Secondary

It’s hard to find a weakness on Ole Miss’ defense. The Rebels have allowed only one passing touchdown in five games and limit opposing quarterbacks to just a 53.6 percent completion percentage. And throwing on the secondary means you have time to pass, which is no easy task trying to block a defensive line that’s among the nation’s best. Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill started the season by throwing for 511 yards and three scores against South Carolina, and the sophomore tossed just two picks through his first five games. But Hill has struggled (relatively speaking) in his last two outings. The sophomore is completing 56 percent of his throws over his last two contests – a drop from a 69.8 mark through the first four games. And Hill has tossed four picks over his last two matchups and averaged only 5.9 yards per attempt against Mississippi State. Hill’s supporting cast needs to give its young quarterback help, as the receiving corps has struggled with dropped passes. With a talented defensive line and secondary, Ole Miss has the necessary pieces to contain Texas A&M’s offense. Can Hill get back on track against the SEC’s top pass defense? Or will the passing game struggle to take off once again?

2. Texas A&M’s Defense

There has been some improvement from Mark Snyder’s defense in 2014, but Texas A&M is still allowing 6.9 yards per play and 34.7 points per game through three SEC contests. On the bright side, the Aggies lead the conference in sacks (19) and have generated 39 tackles for a loss. With the young talent and depth concerns, it’s going to take time for Texas A&M to build an elite defense. But once again this Saturday, the Aggies are going to have their hands full with another explosive offense. Ole Miss averages 35.8 points per game and is third in the conference in third-down conversions. The Rebels can be careless with the ball (10 turnovers), but coach Hugh Freeze has an offense that’s capable of scoring 35-40 points each week. Texas A&M’s defense has allowed at least 28 points in each of its three SEC games. Will that trend continue on Saturday? And if the Aggies give up a lot of yardage to Ole Miss, can Snyder’s defense force enough turnovers or get stops on third down to limit the damage on the scoreboard?

3. Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace

In order for Ole Miss to knock off Alabama, quarterback Bo Wallace needed a perfect performance. Mission accomplished. The senior completed 58.1 percent of his throws and did not throw an interception on 31 attempts. Will the good Bo Wallace make another appearance this Saturday? Texas A&M’s secondary has been prone to allow big plays this year, giving up eight plays of 30 yards or more through six games. The Aggies have forced only six turnovers this year, and in order to win on Saturday, this unit has to create a few short fields for their offense. If Texas A&M doesn’t get pressure on Wallace and fails to force a turnover, the Rebels’ receiving corps will have plenty of opportunities for big plays.

Final Analysis

Can Ole Miss avoid a major letdown in College Station? That’s the key question on Saturday night. Texas A&M desperately needs a win to stay alive in the West Division title picture, but it’s hard to pick the Aggies to win this game if the defense struggles once again. The Rebels may not open this game particularly sharp on either side of the ball, but Wallace and his receivers hit on a few big plays in the second half to allow Ole Miss to remain unbeaten.

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Prediction: Ole Miss 34, Texas A&M 27