Commentary by Hottytoddy.com football contributor Lee Ann Herring Olvedo
Well I’m sure we’re all recovered after a wild weekend and a surreal Oxford moment that witnessed a Magnolia Miracle at Vaught last Saturday. I have to say getting to cover that game from the sidelines could not have been a more perfect moment. Prior to the game, I had the pleasure of chatting with a loyal a former Ole Miss kicker and his wife about what we could witness that day.
The funny thing is the conversation stemmed from a compliment on a pair of cowboy boots. Crazy how things can come about on game day. Anyhow, I remember telling the couple towards the end of our conversation that it will be a beautiful sight when all of Ole Miss’ football potential comes together. The moment when all the pieces fit and we will see something great being born. Well, the dream finally became real for the Rebels defeating the Tide at the Vaught with thousands of frenzied fans joining in the celebration.
The No. 3 undefeated Rebels (how damn good that sounds in the same sentence) are back on the road and heading to the Lonestar State for a heck of a show down in College Station taking on the No. 14 (5-1) Fighting Texas Aggies. The Ags are hoping to break the Magnolia Miracle streak after a rough loss in Starkville to Mississippi State.
This is going to be a hell of a match-up to say the least for both teams. I have to admit that Kyle Field with 100,000-plus all standing at the home of the Twelfth Man after a loss under the lights might not be so bueno for Ole Miss riding high.
For those of my readers that like betting sides, here you go. Despite the climb for the Rebels they are still the underdog for this one.
Spread: Texas A&M (-2)
OK, back to what to expect for this game on Saturday. Well expect to hear a lot of Gig ‘Ems and Hullabaloo yelling. The Aggies like to think of themselves as rough, tough, real stuff, Texas A&M, as the saying goes. The Aggies have been living up to that tough reputation since they left the big 12 for greener pastures in the SEC. As one of the players so boldy stated this week, “We Beat Bama before it was cool.” This is going to be some good old-school-style football.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of this game, top-of-mind for every Rebel is Hugh Freeze’s decision to suspend safety Trae Elston for the first half of Saturday’s game against Texas A&M. Elston appeared to have attempted to kick Alabama running back Kenyan Drake as he lay on the Vaught turf severely injured Saturday.
Fans and colleagues are raving that this might spell doom for the Rebels. While it may affect the team early on, I believe we’ll be just fine. Of course the key for the Rebels overall in this game will to control the hype and riding-high mindset they’re currently enjoying. If the boys want to keep rolling over the Ags, they’re going to give them a run for sure, and that means literally running the ball strong! This switches roles in my passion versus logic theory, with the Ags fired up and ready for redemption at home.
Here are the Aggies the Rebels must key on:
Defensive End : Daeshon Hall
This kid has flown under the radar, but those are the players you have to watch out for in games like this. Though the Aggies have some strong boys up front to put pressure on the Rebel offense, Hall has the pass-rushing skills and speed to put constant pressure on Wallace. The Aggies’ goal in utilizing Hall will be to create overwhelming pressure for Wallace — which we all know is not his favorite environment.
Kicker: Josh Lambo
Kickers are in a class of their own and we all remember this kid from last year. He was the nail in the coffin for the Rebels in Oxford. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of place-kickers and punters in a big game. They are game-changers that can be your biggest friend or nightmare.
Tight End: Cam Clear
Every team has a secret weapon and this could be Clear’s chance to end his career as the super-secret Aggie game- changer, not to mention he is healthy. Scouts have been talking about this kid for over two years — so let’s see if he lives up to all the hype.
This is going to be a game of strengths for sure, so instead of breaking one team down, I’m going to hit you with a combo.
There’s something about going into a game with a hell of a lot of momentum as well as the advantage of seeking pure redemption and venting anger after a loss — so expect a hard-hitting match-up from both teams Saturday .
So here’s the football forecast y’all.
This match-up is unique because it’s facing off the best passing offense against the best passing defense. The advantage always seems to go to the defense in these ferocious SEC battles, but Aggie Coach Kevin Sumlin is an offensive guru and there is just something about that Texas water that breeds offenses capable of outwitting a dominating defense.
We all know that the Rebels Defense has been the saving grace and main reason for their wins so far. However, as we move down the road, we’ll need the total defensive package to keep the winning streak alive. The Rebels must improve their pass rush. We have one hell of secondary and a heck of an interception rate — now we just have to bring it all together to be unstoppable .
I thought by now I would have a better update on the run game but that’s not the case. This is something Rebels are really going to have to work on to have a legitimate shot at national glory at the end of the year.
Time of possession is a key factor in success and a statistic the Rebels need to improve. This could be the difference in a win because whichever side keeps the ball and sustains long drives has an important upper hand. As much as I love exotic play packages or dazzling calls, in a game like this, I advocate keeping it simple, which means keeping the ball, long drives to wear them down and taking time off the clock.
It was nice to wake up last Sunday and realize that it wasn’t a dream after all. For once, we won the the party and the game damn straight! Let’s see if we can keep the dream alive for the Rebels. Hotty Toddy Y’all. Oh I almost forgot my Bourbon, Beer and Cigar Gameday pics
Beer: It’s Texas so it’s any Shinerbock all day long
Cigar. I have to go with my favorite — the Pardon 1964, or if you want to splurge, the 1924. Make sure to visit the boys down at PJs Cigars before you leave Oxford. They’ll hook you up.
Bourbon: Have to go with something a little strong because it’s Texas and everything is over the top. Bakers Bourbon at 107-proof will get you ready for that Hotty Toddy fever.
Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a HottyToddy.com contributor, veteran SEC sports journalist and Brown University graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order.