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Rebels go for upset over No. 1 LSU

Addison Dent/The Daily Mississippian

On Saturday night, every Ole Miss senior will be playing their last game inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, and they will do so against the No. 1 LSU Tigers. It will also mark head coach Houston Nutt’s last home game in Oxford, before the Rebels close out the 2011 season next week at Mississippi State. For now, all Nutt is worried about is LSU.

“I always love competing against them,” he said. “They always look the same year in and year out. They are always well coached. We have always enjoyed a competitive game against them. To me they are playing at a very high level right now, especially on defense. They are a team that has given up very few yards. LSU is powerful and strong. They will bloody your nose.”

It remains to be whether senior Jarrett Lee or senior Jordan Jefferson gets the start at quarterback for the Tigers, but it is very likely both will play in the game. Lee has thrown for 1,289 yards with 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions, while Jefferson has thrown for 358 yards and three touchdowns in limited playing time.
Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix knows that Ole Miss can’t worry about who is on the other side of the field if they want to pull the upset Saturday.

“If you look at the statistics, we don’t have a chance on either side of the ball, but that’s not the key to the game,” Nix said. “Every year you see upsets on every level. Our objective is to go out there and play as hard as we can and as well as we can and see what happens.”

In order to do that, the Ole Miss defense will have to shut down the LSU offense, which is led by junior wide receiver Rueben Randle. On the year, Randle has 38 receptions for 733 yards and eight touchdowns. But that isn’t all to the LSU offense. On the ground, sophomore Spencer Ware leads the way with 580 yards, sophomore followed by Michael Ford with 575 and sophomore Alfred Blue with 371 yards.

Keeping those guys in check will be pivotal for the Rebels’ chances in the game considering the Ole Miss offense will be up against one of, if not, the best defenses in the nation.

The Ole Miss offense has had a tough time getting anything going this season. The Rebels rank 113th in total offense (297.8 ypg) and 109th in scoring offense (18.7 ppg). And with the suspensions of junior starting quarterback Randall Mackey, sophomore leading rusher Jeff Scott and sophomore wide receiver Korvic Neat, the task at hand is that much more difficult.

Junior Zack Stoudt will get the start at quarterback, but sophomore Barry Brunetti may also play in Mackey’s absence. Although these are not the circumstances Stoudt wanted to get another chance at quarter, he is going to make the most of the opportunity.

“(I have to) be consistent, get the ball out and don’t force anything,” Stoudt said. “Throwing it away is a good play. I have to keep the offense on the field, don’t take unnecessary shots and take it one play at a time.”

As for the LSU defense, it ranks second nationally in total defense (253.2 ypg) and scoring defense (10.7). The tenacious LSU defense is led by sophomore defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who has totaled 54 tackles, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries on the season.

Kickoff for Saturday’s 100th meeting between Ole Miss and LSU is set for 6 p.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and will be televised nationally by ESPN.