college football picks Ole Miss at Tulane 9-11-10

September 10, 2010


DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 11th, 9:00 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Louisiana Superdome (69,703) — New Orleans, Louisiana. Television: ESPN Classic. Home Record: Ole Miss 0-1, Tulane 1-0. Away Record: Ole Miss 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Neutral Record: Ole Miss 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Conference Record: Ole Miss 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Series Record: Ole Miss leads, 41-28.

GAME NOTES: The Ole Miss Rebels will try to rebound from a stunning season- opening loss as they head to the Louisiana Superdome to take on the Tulane Green Wave.

Ole Miss opened its season with a 49-48 loss to Jacksonville State in double overtime last Saturday. JSU was facing 4th-and-15 in the second extra session when the Gamecocks came up with a miraculous 30-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 48-47. Feeling the momentum on their side, the Gamecocks opted to go for the two-point conversion to win it, and that decision paid off big time.

Tulane had a wild 27-21 win over Southeastern Louisiana last Thursday night in its opener. It marked the first time since 2002 that Tulane won its inaugural game. Still, penalties and miscues marred the good vibes from the victory.

Ole Miss leads the all-time series with Tulane, 41-28.

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said he is still not sure about his quarterback situation and whether he’ll settle on one player or continue using both Nathan Stanley and Oregon transfer Jeremiah Masoli. Stanley had a solid game against JSU, throwing for 133 yards and three scores on just 6-of-10 attempts. But Masoli presents an intriguing option. He had some disciplinary troubles at Oregon and was expected to sit out the 2010 season, but the NCAA ruled last Friday that he was eligible to compete immediately. Considering he guided the Ducks to two straight 10-win seasons, coach Nutt understandably wants to get Masoli on the field one way or another. He threw for 109 yards and an interception on 7-of-10 passing, while also running for 29 yards on five carries. Brandon Bolden carried the rushing load with 104 yards and a TD on 17 carries, while Enrique Davis also carried 17 times for 61 yards and two scores.

Defensively, there isn’t much for the Rebels to hang their hats on after giving up 49 points in a loss. Incredibly, 36 of those points were scored after the fourth quarter began. The Gamecocks managed to reach the end zone on all four of their red-zone trips. Two JSU quarterbacks combined to complete 22-of-36 passes for 252 yards and five touchdowns against the Ole Miss defense. With time winding down in the fourth quarter, the Rebels were unable to preserve their lead as JSU drove down the field to make it a 34-32 game with 18.9 seconds to play in regulation. A successful two-point conversion tied the game at 34 and sent it into overtime, and in the second OT the Gamecocks sealed it with another two-point conversion. Damien Jackson paced Ole Miss with 11 tackles, while Johnny Brown notched 10 tackles and a pass breakup.

Tulane freshman running back Orleans Darkwa made a stellar debut against SE Louisiana, rushing for 75 yards and three scores on 19 carries. However, head coach Bob Toledo said overall he was disappointed by the team’s performance on offense. Over the course of the game, the Green Wave committed a couple of turnovers, had three holding penalties, four three-and-outs and way too much pressure on the quarterback for Toledo’s liking. Quarterback Ryan Griffin was sacked four times, lost a fumble and also threw an interception. Tulane started the game off promising enough, taking its opening drive 75 yards into the end zone on 16 plays, while eating up 8:25 of game clock. But after that, the Green Wave had trouble sustaining drives.

Tulane sophomore middle linebacker Trent Mackey was named Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Week for his role in last Saturday’s victory. Mackey, a transfer from Duke making his first start for Tulane, compiled a game-high and career-best 13 tackles, including two for loss and a forced fumble. Overall the defense came away with four takeaways for the game, resulting in four drives that started on the other side of the 50-yard-line. As coach Toledo pointed out at his weekly press conference, that matches the total of drives beginning in opponents’ territory from all of last season. There are a few areas to clean up, but the defense as a whole performed well. SE Louisiana was driving for a potential game-winning score in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, but defensive tackle Justin Adams ended the threat with a sack near midfield as the clock expired.

The Rebels completely fell on their face last week against an FCS squad, in a game which they led 31-10 at halftime. While the Rebels may not stack up against the top SEC contenders, expect them to come out focused for four quarters this week. Meanwhile, coach Toledo said his No. 1 takeaway from Saturday’s game was that his team committed nine penalties for 79 yards in addition to a couple of turnovers, so look for the Green Wave to play a bit sharper as well.


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