No. 20 Ole Miss is riding high after its throttling of Louisville on Labor Day night, and it will welcome Austin Peay to Oxford on Saturday evening.
Austin Peay is also 1-0 after a 10-point win over Chattanooga last week, but the Governors will have their work cut out for them on Saturday when they travel into SEC country. The Grove Report staff has given their predictions for Saturday night's game, and it's time to dive in.
Let's not overthink this one. While Austin Peay has been one of the pleasant surprises at the FCS level over the last several seasons, including a nice run in the spring season, there is a clear talent gap set to take the field on Saturday. Ole Miss should win going away, even if the defense reverts back to its ways of 2020, when the secondary couldn't slow down many operations. Perhaps ironically, the passing attack is the strength of the Governers, with a quarterback willing to take chances and a bigger wide receiver corps from a size standpoint.
Still, the Rebel offense will score in bunches, we suspect with a stronger focus on the running game given the three-headed monster at running back. Snoop Conner was the reliable option Week 1 against Louisville, so expect Jarrion Ealy or Henry Parrish to potentially take more of the load in Week 2, and I can see triple digit yardage for more than one Ole Miss tailback by day's end.
Matt Corral and company just need to protect the football against an inferior opponent, in all reality. The home opener crowd, one being called for publicly by Lane Kiffin, should provide plenty of energy -- especially on the heels of the opening night statement Ole Miss made against Louisville. The old 'trap game' adage is an easy counter after such a big, national win, but there is a different feel of maturity and accountability from this Rebel group that won't look ahead to upcoming opponents Tulane and Alabama.
Prediction: Ole Miss 52, Austin Peay 17
If Ole Miss loses this game, it's very easily one of the worst losses in program history. Matt Corral uses this game to help pad his stats for his Heisman campaign.
Prediction: Ole Miss 53, Austin Peay 17
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Ole Miss and Austin Peay are both undefeated teams after winning their season openers, and the Rebels are eager to play on their home turf this weekend with Lane Kiffin leading the team, his first time at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium without COVID attendance restrictions. The defense that surprised the nation will be a force if the game plays out like it did last week. I also believe that Matt Corral will throw multiple touchdowns, padding his stats for his Heisman campaign.
These two teams have never met on the field of play, but I don't think that Austin Peay will be able to keep up with the Ole Miss offense or defense. The Rebels had no issue winning the last game without Lane Kiffin, and there will be even more momentum and excitement from the Rebels with their head coach and fans cheering for them in their home stadium.
Prediction: Ole Miss 55, Austin Peay 7
Saturday is Lane Kiffin’s first real Grove experience, as well as his first time coaching in Oxford in front of a full crowd. He’s going to want to make a statement. The Rebels will come out doing what they do best — pedal to the metal on offense, and aggression on defense.
Matt Corral soars, and the Rebels cruise over Austin Peay.
Prediction: Ole Miss 65, Austin Peay 13
John Macon Gillespie
Where Monday's neutral-site game had tons of hype, Saturday's game against an FCS opponent may be lacking in that regard (except for the fact that it's the home-opener). Regardless, I think early returns suggest that Ole Miss has a chance to be legit on both sides of the ball in 2021, especially against an FCS team in Austin Peay.
Matt Corral feasts, and so does the defense and the rushing attack. Not much more to say.
Prediction: Ole Miss 56, Austin Peay 14
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