at Ole Miss 42 … Southern Illinois 24
Posted Sep 10, 2011

Week 2 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Southern Illinois at Ole Miss

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 2 - SIU at Ole Miss

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Sept. 10 at Ole Miss 42 … Southern Illinois 24
CFN Analysis: COMING 

(AP) OXFORD, Miss. -- Jeff Scott rushed for three touchdowns and scored another on a punt return as Mississippi beat Southern Illinois 42-24 on Saturday night.

The 5-foot-7, 175-pound sophomore rushed for 118 yards on 16 carries, scoring three touchdowns in the first six minutes of the game, including a 67-yard punt return down the right sideline to give the Rebels a 21-0 lead.

The rest of the game wasn't as easy. Ole Miss (1-1) had a 35-10 lead early in the third quarter before Southern Illinois responded with two touchdown drives in the second half to pull within 35-24.

Steve Strother rushed for 116 yards for Southern Illinois (1-1), but the Salukis couldn't overcome four interceptions thrown by Paul McIntosh.

Ole Miss was playing without its top two running backs -- seniors Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis -- after the pair suffered injuries in last week's season opener against BYU. But Scott was spectacular in their place, rushing for touchdowns of 37 and 4 yards in the opening minutes before a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown pushed the Rebels' lead to 21-0 with 9:09 remaining in the first half. He added a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Scott's first touchdown was the most spectacular. He broke several tackles and juked one Southern Illinois defender before finding open space and eventually the end zone.

Nutt has said Scott is the fastest of the Rebel running backs, but sometimes struggles with blocking assignments and fumbles. He didn't appear to have any of those problems against the Salukis, though, and his performance gives the Rebels confidence heading into next week's Southeastern Conference opener against Vanderbilt.

Zack Stoudt was decent in his first start as the Ole Miss quarterback, completing 11 of 18 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Randall Mackey also played after he served a one-game suspension because of his arrest following a bar fight, leading the Rebels on two touchdown drives. He completed his only pass for 18 yards and also rushed six times for 36 yards.

Barry Brunetti, the starting quarterback against BYU, did not play.

Games against Football Championship Subdivision teams are usually considered sure wins, but the Rebels weren't in position to take any opponent lightly. Ole Miss is barely one year removed from a 49-48 double overtime loss to FCS opponent Jacksonville State that qualified as one of the most embarrassing moments in program history.

It wouldn't happen again, though the Salukis did keep things interesting for much of the night.

Jewel Hampton rushed for a 2-yard touchdown late in the first half to pull the Salukis within 28-10 at halftime. Scott's fourth touchdown of the night stretched the Rebels' lead to 35-10 with 10:23 left in the third quarter, but SIU responded with two touchdowns to pull within 35-24 with 6:39 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Southern Illinois outgained Ole Miss 420-315.

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Southern Illinois (1-0) vs. Ole Miss (0-1) Sept 10, 6:00

Here's The Deal … The Mississippi Rebels and Houston Nutt have to be extremely careful this weekend. Look back no further than the 2010 season opener when Ole Miss dropped a double overtime game to the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. The upset minded Southern Illinois Salukis are ranked #17 in FCS and will bring a veteran team in to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. How quickly can Ole Miss move on and forget about the heart breaking week one opening loss to BYU? Although sloppy offensively – Ole Miss held a 13-0 lead with 14 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. Then Jake Heaps connected on touchdown pass with 10 minutes to play to tighten the game to 13-7. Later with Ole Miss facing a 3rd and 27 from its own 21 yd line and 5:09 remaining, quarterback Zack Stoudt was sacked and lost the football which resulted in the game winning touchdown when BYU scooped and scored to take a final 14-13 lead. It is imperative that Ole Miss gets off to a good start offensively in this game and not let the upset minded underdog hang around too long.

Why Southern Illinois Might Win: The Salukis travel to SEC country but they may be able to sneak up on an opponent too busy feeling sorry for itself. SIU has talent at running back, a veteran offensive line, and faces an Ole Miss team that did next to nothing offensively.

The Salukies rushed for 240 yards, totaled 494 yards of offense and scored 38 points in their opening game, albeit against a fellow FCS team in SE Missouri, and it has the speed and quickness to get to the second level of the Rebel defense in a hurry.

Former Iowa Hawkeye running back Jewel Hampton has found a new home in the backfield for the Salukis and came up with three touchdowns in the opener. SIU has a balanced rushing attack and quarterback Paul McIntosh is a dual threat who rolled up 65 yards rushing and 254 yards through the air. The Salukis also run a 3-4 defense like BYU with the athleticism to hold up against an Ole Miss attack that came up with 208 total yards of offense.

Why Ole Miss Might Win: All is not well in Oxford, but this is a veteran team that knows what happens when it doesn't bring its A game – like Jacksonville State.

While the ground game will be without running backs Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis, who were both hurt last week, the offensive line is good enough to control the game. Really.

The Rebels offensive line is supposed to be one of the best in the SEC and it couldn't generate a push or any space for the running game that totaled 64 yards and 2.2 yards per carry, but SIU, even with a similar defensive style, isn't nearly as strong. SIU will have to run the ball to win, but the Ole Miss defensive line not only has a decisive size advantage on the Salukis offensive line, but also it held BYU to 91 yards on the ground and 2.9 yards per carry.

What To Watch Out For: Jeff Scott and Devin Thomas will get most-if not-all of the carries for the Rebels with Bolden and Davis on the sidelines. Ole Miss needs to establish a running game and Scott and Thomas will be in the spotlight against the Salukis. Scott is a 5-8 170-pound sophomore who rushed for 6.5 yards per carry and 429 yards in 2010. Thomas is a former high school running back who was a back up wide receiver for the Rebels, and will have to chip in with some carries to help the smaller Scott, but the two have the athleticism to crank out long runs.

SIU's Hampton burst on to the scene as a redshirt freshman running back in 2008 when he broke the Hawkeyes freshman touchdown record. He tore his ACL and missed all of the 2009 season and then in a September game against Arizona in 2010, tore it up again. Following the injury, he transferred to Southern Illinois and in the opener of the 2011 season scored three touchdowns and established himself as the key to the attack. He'll get his first FBS action this weekend in an SEC stadium.

What Will Happen: Ole Miss has to get the offense going in the right direction, and it will. Searching for their first offensive touchdown of the 2011 season, the Rebels will use their large size and talent advantage up front to pave the way to a big day on the ground.

The upset minded Salukis are going to play hard for 60 minutes and Ole Miss will feel the pressure if they do not get off to a good start and let the Salukis hang around. This game will be closer than the Rebel fans will like, but Nutt will get Ole Miss a win before opening SEC play next week with Vanderbilt.

CFN Prediction: Ole Miss 27 … Southern Illinois 16
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