For the Mississippi schools, it all comes down to quarterback

Five Burning Questions about what could be among the best SEC Saturdays you’ll ever see:

1) Who will show up for Ole Miss–the Good Bo or the Bad Bo? No. 11 Ole Miss (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has the national stage and the golden opportunity to go from pretty good to potentially great as No. 1 (in the Coaches Poll) Alabama (4-0, 1-0) comes to Oxford in what some are calling the biggest home game in school history. There are a lot of great story lines but here’s the bottom line: If Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace can play mistake-free (no interceptions, no fumbles) the Rebels have a shot of winning this game. But that’s the problem: Wallace goes stretches where he is brilliant. He has completed 71 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns. He also has six interceptions because he forces the ball into coverages. Nick Saban and Kirby Smart, who run the Alabama defense, know that.

2) Can Dak Prescott do it again? Two weeks ago I said that Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott would need to be north of 250 yards passing and 100 yards rushing for the Bulldogs to have a shot at LSU. Prescott played the game of his life in Baton Rouge with 268 passing and 105 rushing in a 34-29 win that wasn’t that close. Prescott will need to have numbers in that ballpark for the Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0) to upset No. 6 Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0). Prescott is No. 2 in SEC total offense (335.5 ypg) behind Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill (376.2). He leads all SEC quarterbacks in rushing with 378 yards (6.1 avg.). A key stat here: Last week Arkansas rolled to 484 yards (285 rushing) in a 35-28 loss to Texas A&M.

3) Is LSU’s Brandon Harris ready for prime time? LSU coach Les Miles is a loyal guy. Some say that he can be loyal to a fault. He went too long with sophomore Anthony Jennings and it cost the Tigers against Mississippi State. Miles announced this week that true freshman Brandon Harris will get the start at No. 5 Auburn Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It might have been wiser to give Harris his first career start in last week’s blowout win over New Mexico State but this much is clear: The LSU offense plays with more energy when Harris is in the game. He has completed 22 of 30 passes for 394 yards and six–that’s right SIX–touchdowns.

4) How much will we see Brice Ramsey against Vanderbilt? Georgia (3-1, 1-1) has two tasks on Saturday  when Vanderbilt (1-4, 0-3) comes to Sanford Stadium. Georgia needs to win the game, obviously, but it also needs to get its ducks in a row for two brutal road games at Missouri and Arkansas (in Little Rock) in the following weeks. And part of that is making sure the passing game is a legitimate threat when opponents stack the box to slow down Todd Gurley. Quarterback Hutson Mason struggled against Tennessee but things should get better with the return of receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley. But it might make sense to give the backup quarterback, redshirt freshman Brice Ramsey, a series or two in case he’s needed down the road. Just a suggestion.

5) If things go badly at Tennessee, will Florida make a change at quarterback? The Gator Nation was told that the anemic Florida offense had been fixed with the arrival of new OC Kurt Roper. They were told that redshirt junior Jeff Driskel was the perfect man to run this attack. Neither of those things appeared to be true when Alabama just destroyed the Gators 42-21 two weeks ago. It could be that Alabama is the best team in the country, so that may not be a fair measuring stick. But on Saturday Florida (2-1, 1-1)  goes to Tennessee (2-2, 0-1), a young and hungry team that has lost nine straight games to the Gators. Driskel completed only nine of 28 passes against Alabama. Head coach Will Muschamp said he is sticking with Driskel. But lose in Knoxville and Muschamp’s own future is brought into question.

 

 


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