Ole Miss 38 … at Fresno State 28

Posted Oct 1, 2011

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Ole Miss at Fresno State

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 5 - Ole Miss at Fresno State

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Oct. 1 Ole Miss 38 … at Fresno State 28
CFN Analysis: A funny thing happened on the way to a disaster of a season; Ole Miss found some playmakers. Randall Mackey only completed 8-of-18 passes, but he ran well and didn't make any big mistakes. Brandon Bolden wasn't quite back to form, but he ran for 43 yards and two scores on six carries, while Jeff Scott continued to be the team's main man with 138 yards and two touchdowns. The ten penalties were way too many, and there were a few problems in the secondary, but this was a tight road game the Rebels were able take control of late. With two weeks off, there's time to enjoy the win before Alabama comes to town.

Fresno State only made two mistakes, but they were big ones. Robbie Rouse never, ever, ever fumbles, but he fumbled, and with the errors along, missed field goals, and problems against the Rebel running game, this was a rough loss for a program that lives for beating mediocre BCS teams. Derek Carr wasn't bad, throwing for 281 yards, and Rouse ran well, but this makes it 0-3 against BCS conference squads with Boise State coming up on Friday. The offense can't come away with empty trips like it did this week, and there can't be any mistakes.

(AP) FRESNO, Calif. -- Jeff Scott ran for 138 yards and two second-half touchdowns and new starting quarterback Randall Mackey sparked Mississippi's dormant offense in a 38-28 victory against Fresno State on Saturday night.

Brandon Bolden added two touchdown runs for the Rebels (2-3), who capped their first trip ever to California by earning their first win of the season against an FBS-level team.

Robbie Rouse ran for 123 yards and a touchdown and Derek Carr threw for 281 yards and a score for the Bulldogs (2-3), who were unable to get their first win ever against a Southeastern Conference team.

The Rebels had lost all three games against FBS competition, scoring just two offensive touchdowns against BYU, Vanderbilt and Georgia and averaging 236.5 yards per game overall.

That led coach Houston Nutt to make a second change of the season at quarterback, starting Mackey in place of the struggling Zack Stoudt. Stoudt replaced Barry Brunetti in the opener against BYU and started the past three games, but was replaced after completing just 50.5 percent of his passes with six interceptions and two touchdowns.

Mackey, who was suspended for the season opener after getting into a bar fight, completed just 8 of 18 passes for 214 yards. But he was able to deliver some big plays in the passing game, including one TD, and did a good job prolonging plays with his scrambling ability.

He came up big on the 88-yard game-winning drive, completing a 24-yard pass to Scott to get the Rebels moving and adding two more completions and a 9-yard scramble as Ole Miss drove to the Fresno State 12.

Then on third-and-9, Scott dashed around the end and tiptoed down the sideline for the score that made it 33-28. After a false start, Mackey completed a 2-point conversion pass to Donte Moncrief to make it a seven-point game with 8:49 remaining.

Mackey and Moncrief combined on a 57-yard pass play later in the fourth quarter to set up a short field goal by Bryson Rose that made it 38-28 with 3:42 remaining.

The teams traded touchdowns on the opening three drives of the second half with Rouse scoring on a 12-yard run for the Bulldogs and Carr on a 1-yard keeper around Scott's 69-yard scamper for a touchdown. That put Fresno State on top 28-27 heading into the fourth quarter.

Mackey started slowly with his first three passes falling incomplete and the Rebels going three-and-out on their opening two drives. Ole Miss trailed 7-0 on Carr's 2-yard TD pass to Rashad Evans before Mackey and the Ole Miss offense got going.

It started with a 46-yard pass to Ja-Mes Logan that was followed immediately by Bolden's 21-yard touchdown run. Mackey completed two deep balls on the following drive, a 40-yarder to Nickolas Brassell and a 22-yard TD pass to Melvin Harris that made it 13-7 when the extra point was blocked.

Jalen Saunders 26-yard run on an end around put the Bulldogs up 14-13 in the closing seconds of the first quarter but mistakes in the second quarter doomed Fresno State and Ole Miss led 20-14 at the half.

Rouse lost the first fumble of his career on his 401st carry to set up Bolden's second TD run, Carr threw an interception on a deflected ball and Kevin Goessling missed field goals from 32 and 57 yards out. Goessling later missed a 46-yarder in the closing minute of the game.

Ole Miss (1-3) at Fresno State (2-2) Oct. 1, 9:15, ESPN2/ESPN3

Here's The Deal … Fresno State lost to California and Nebraska, and Ole Miss is the last chance to beat a BCS conference team in the regular season.

This is what the Bulldogs live for.

WAC titles were impossible to come by when Boise State was around, but that can wait. Pat Hill's club loves to go big game hunting, and it's shown with a win over a BCS team in each of the last four years and in nine of the last 11 seasons. This year, beating Ole Miss would be a nice opening act before dealing with Boise State next Friday. The defense hasn't been a rock and the offense has been inconsistent, but the problems are all fine compared to Mississippi's issues.

The Rebels are a mess with no offense, a struggling defense, and few answers. Injuries have been a little bit of a problem, but nothing has been happening through the air with losses to BYU, Vanderbilt, and Georgia putting Houston Nutt on a flaming hot seat. With Alabama and Arkansas coming up next, this week qualifies as a breather.

Why Ole Miss Might Win: Fresno State doesn't have the defense BYU, Vandy, and Georgia do. The Rebels aren't moving the ball a lick, and while they don't have enough talent and depth to suddenly explode, Fresno State didn't have much luck stopping the run against Nebraska and North Dakota, and it didn't shut down Cal or Idaho through the air. Ole Miss has to find one thing that works and stick with it, and that might be pounding away with the running game and the talented offensive front. It hasn't worked so far, but FSU will give up yards in chunks over time.

Field position will be at a premium for the two struggling offenses, and Ole Miss is getting a big year out of Jeff Scott and the nation's No. 1 punt return game. The Rebel punting game has been phenomenal with Tyler Campbell ranking fourth in the nation and coming off a monster performance, averaging 50.8 yards per boot with three put inside the 20 against Georgia. However …

Why Fresno State Might Win: The Fresno State punting game has been solid and Devon Wylie is one of the nation's elite returners.

No, the Bulldog defense might not be anything special, but Ole Miss hasn't shown it can do anything right offensively. Beating Southern Illinois was easy, but the attack is only averaging 235 yards per game and can't do anything to get the passing game going down the field. Rebel quarterbacks are combining to barely complete half of their passes for 578 yards and three scores with seven interceptions, and Fresno State hasn't been too bad so far in the secondary. Cal and Idaho got their yards, but the big plays have been hard to come by. Ole Miss isn't about to go Tom Brady on the Bulldog secondary.

Fresno State's offense hasn't been awful at running the ball, but it hasn't exploded quite yet. That might change this week against a Rebel defensive front that can't seem to hold up at the point of attack and a linebacking corps that hasn't been tight in its tackling. The Bulldog offensive line hasn't been a plus, but this week it should be able to pound out big yards for …

What To Watch Out For: Robbie Rouse. The Bulldog running game as a whole isn't doing much, but Rouse is doing his part with 477 yards and three scores. His 112 yards against Idaho made it three straight games of 100 yards or more, and when he's hot, he can be as effective as any back in the country. The coaching staff isn't afraid to feed him the ball as long as the ground game is working, and he should be able to put up another 100 yards without a problem against the struggling Rebel front seven.

The Ole Miss defense might not be producing, but sophomore linebacker Mike Marry is putting up stats. Thrown into a starring role, he's one of the few bright spots with 42 tackles and three double-digit tackling outings in four games. Built like a safety when he arrived at Ole Miss, he hit the weights big time and grew into a rock with limitless range and great moves for his size. He could be used as a pass rusher from the outside if needed, but he'll continue to shine in the middle.

What Will Happen: It's Fresno State at home against a bad BCS team. This will be the Bulldogs' Rose Bowl, and while the Rebels won't be awful, they won't be up for a jacked up team that lives for making statements against teams with names.

CFN Prediction: Fresno State 27 … Ole Miss 17
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