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Mississippi running back Scottie Phillips, left, dives into the end zone for touchdown as Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks defends during the first half of a college football game, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

CFB Preview: Ole Miss vs. Southern Illinois

Ole Miss comes off a solid win over Texas Tech, but it faces a potential trap game with Southern Illinois. The Salukis go into Oxford at 4 p.m. to do battle as a huge underdog (+29). But they won their last contest against Murray State 49-10.

Will the Rebels’ offensive attack get loose?

Against Texas Tech, Ole Miss running back Scottie Phillips torched the defense to the tune of 16 carries for 204 yards. He capped the outing off with touchdown runs of 39 yards and 65 yards.

https://twitter.com/OleMissFB/status/1036720495314358272

The wide receiving core was equally as excellent. Although no one player jumped off the stat sheet, several Rebel receivers made outstanding plays for quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.

Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke talked about how dynamic his receivers were this weekend.

Will the offense be able to get cranking again?

It might not be as easy as most think. Against Murray State, the defense notched three scores, forced six turnovers and held the Racers to 285 total yards.

SIU will need to secure at least two or three turnovers to secure the upset.

Similarly, just how good is the rushing game for the Salukis?

Southern Illinois ran all over Murray State. Just flat out ran all over them. Eight different SIU players received at least four carries, and the eight combined for 65 carries and 295 yards. None of the team’s rushes went for more than 25 yards.

Conversely, quarterback play for the Salukis was average at best. Starter Sam Straub went 16 for 29 with 107 yards and two touchdowns. For measure, that’s an average of 3.7 yards per attempt.

If Southern Illinois can shock the world, it will be on the backs of its running game. Look for two things: running back D.J. Davis and pace of play.

Davis led the team in carries and yards with 19 and 127, respectively. The Salukis got off 96 plays as opposed to the Racers’ 69.

Does Southern Illinois even have a chance?

Realistically, no, no it does not. The athletes in the SEC are far more talented to any other conference in the country, much less an FCS team.

But the world of college football is strange, stranger things have happened.

Last week against Texas Tech, the Rebels lucked out when Red Raiders starting quarterback McLane Carter suffered a high ankle sprain early and was out for the rest of the game. Furthermore, Ole Miss takes on No. 1 Alabama in a primetime game the following weekend.

If there was ever a time for SIU to pull off an upset, now is that time.

About Chris O'Brien

Chris O'Brien is a rising sophomore at the University of Florida. He aspires to be an on-air sports anchor someday.

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