South Carolina and Ole Miss will meet on the gridiron this Saturday for the first time in 9 years.
The Ole Miss Rebels (5-3) play host to the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-3) for their second of two straight home games.
The last time these two teams squared off, the Gamecocks eeked out a 16-10 home win over the No. 4 Rebels on Thursday night in September.
South Carolina’s defense held Rebel quarterback Jevan Snead to 7/21 with a 107 yards passing. He was sacked four times.
Eric Norwood stood out for South Carolina defensively that game with two sacks and partially blocked a punt.
Ole Miss’s coach that game was Houston Nutt while South Carolina had one Steve Spurrier at the helm.
Current Rebel coach Matt Luke was coaching offensive line and co-coordinating the offense under David Cutcliffe at Duke. Will Muschamp, the Gamecocks’ head man, was at Texas running the defense for Mack Brown’s second-ranked Longhorns.
Muschamp said his team had “good preparation” in practice Tuesday and Wednesday during Wednesday SEC Coacches Teleconference. He said the team worked primarily on third downs and red zone situations.
Here are Carolina’s red zone and third down numbers this season:
- Red zone scoring (FGs & TDs) – 86th at 82.1 percent
- Third down offense – 64th at 40.2 percent
- Red zone scoring defense – T-53rd at 81.3 percent
- Third down defense – 24th at 32.6 percent
He said the Gamecock secondary will have to rise to the challenge presented by Ole Miss’s offense and receiving corps.
Muschamp on Ole Miss offense and Jordan Ta’amu:
But, defensive lineman D.J. Wonnum will look to disrupt Ta’amu this weekend. His two-sack game against Tennessee earned him SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.
Muschamp spoke highly of more than just Ta’amu in terms of the Rebels’ offensive unit.
Muschamp on the rest of the offense:
The Rebels come in with the fifth-best offense in the nation averaging 537.9 yards per game.
According to SportsSource Analytics, the Rebels rank third among profiled teams in big-play rate. Ole Miss is breaking off plays of 20+ yards almost 13 percent of the time.
But, South Carolina ranks 24th in allowing plays of 20+ yards. The Gamecock defense has allowed plays of that nature only 5.5 percent of the time this season.
With a win Saturday, Luke’s squad would technically be bowl eligible. But, due to a two-year bowl ban, the Rebs won’t make a postseason trip this year.
If you ask Luke, he doesn’t think that has affected the team’s attitude.
Luke on motivation:
Last time they met, it was a Thursday-night game in Columbia. This Saturday, these two squads will kick off bright and early at 11 a.m. Central Time.