The Mississippi Rebels are in must-win mode if they want to go to a bowl game this season. With a record of 3-6 and three games left, the Rebels will likely have to win out in the regular season. I say likely because 5 wins might be enough to get to a bowl. If there aren’t enough 6-win teams in the FBS, then they go down to the 5-win teams, which could be Ole Miss. New Mexico State are by far the easiest team they’re going to see in the next three weeks. They have a date with the LSU Tigers next week and then Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.
LSU looks like a near impossible chore for Ole Miss, but who knows, the Tigers could be ripe for an upset following the Alabama game. If there’s any spot for a letdown for LSU this season, it’s going to be next week against the Rebels. Whether Matt Luke can draw something up to counter an ultra talented LSU team, even after they played in a game like that, is questionable, though. Luke’s job is not complete safe at the moment, and a win against the Tigers would help him out considerably.
Beating or even blowing out New Mexico State isn’t going to move the meter much. New Mexico State are looking for their first win of the season in Oxford on Saturday. They are in danger of finishing with the worst record in the country. With Incarnte Word on the schedule next week and then Liberty to wrap up the year, they should be able to find one win there.
New Mexico State have a bit of an unorthodox schedule. They had a double bye week and play Liberty twice in a year. The Aggies had a bye after a 42-28 loss against Central Michigan and then again following a 41-7 loss against Georgia Southern two weeks ago. Liberty and New Mexico State played twice last season as well.
On the surface a double bye doesn’t sound bad, but having to slow down twice and go again could throw a rhythm offense like New Mexico State out of sync. They’re attempting to model themselves after the Mike Leach air raid offense, but the right personnel isn’t there to run it like Washington State. The offense isn’t the primary reason why New Mexico State are winless, though. Head below for our free New Mexico State vs. Ole Miss pick.
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New Mexico State vs. Ole Miss Pick:
The defense has been a real work-in-progress for New Mexico State. They have been getting gashed this season and haven’t been able to put up much resistance, even against MAC teams like Central Michigan. Central Michigan torched the Aggies on the ground for over 350 yards. Kobe Lewis ran for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns with an average of 7 yards per carry. Jonathan Ward did nearly the same, with 131 yards and a score on 7.3 yards per carry. If we want to go deeper, Kalil Pimpleton had 9.5 yards per carry. It was even uglier in their most recent showing against Georgia Southern.
Georgia Southern gashed the Aggies for over 400 yards rushing. Wesley Kennedy ran for a whopping 23.8 yards per carry on 6 carries for 143 yards. J.D. King chipped in with 143 yards on 19 carries as well. They ended up with 41 points in a 41-7 win over the Aggies. All Georgia Southern do is run the ball out of the triple-option, often from a shotgun formation. New Mexico State knew what was coming and they didn’t do anything to stop it.
Ole Miss offensive coordinator, Rich Rodriguez, has been criticized for his offense this season. However, his offense is being set up for a monster day against New Mexico State. They like to run the ball a lot and run a variation of a triple-option in a sense. The Rebels put wide receivers in motion often and like to run fakes to the running back and receivers. If you have a quarterback that can’t run, this offense goes nowhere fast. Ole Miss have a speedster at quarterback in John Rhys Plumlee, though. If he could actually pass the ball, Plumlee would be unstoppable.
While Plumlee can’t pass, it’s not going to matter against New Mexico State. Plumee is going to run for miles in this game, along with his running backs. Ole Miss are 1st in the SEC with 225.2 yards per game. They’ve been even better than Alabama and Georgia at running the ball. Note that New Mexico State are second-last in the country at stopping the run. They’ve allowed 263.5 rushing yards per game and likely going to give up over 300 yards against Ole Miss here. The offense has been waiting for a defense to beat up on and this is going to be their best opportunity.
The Ole Miss defense has kept them in games this year. They came close last week against Auburn, but came up short 20-14. Ole Miss had the ball and were marching late in the 4th to take the lead as well. The Rebels were competitive against Texas A&M and Missouri in losses, too. On the season, they’ve yielded 26.2 points per game, which isn’t terrible given their competition, which included Alabama. New Mexico State like to go fast offensively. They want to be like Washington State.
The Aggies have an okay quarterback in Josh Adkins. He has to cut down on the turnovers, though. In fact, New Mexico State are the worst team in the country in turnover margin. They hand out free points on a regular basis, and against an SEC defense, that sounds like danger. Adkins has thrown 9 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He doesn’t have a legitimate threat in the passing game, so it’s tough to say how much of it is him or the talent around him. If he can’t string some drives together, this contest is going to get ugly.
The Ole Miss running attack will take full advantage of a gassed New Mexico State defense if the Aggies don’t play the ball possession game. Hurrying up and going fast has its advantages, but there are also disadvantages. The most glaring disadvantage is short drives, especially if it’s a three-and-out. Look for plenty of home run shots by the Rebels on the ground here. It’s likely going to be way too much for New Mexico State to contain. Hands are going to be on the hips in the 2nd quarter. A 52-20 or 48-17 win for Mississippi looks good here.