Two Top 20 SEC teams needing wins to validate their lofty rankings clash Saturday when the No. 13 LSU Tigers invade Vaught Hemingway Stadium to take on the No. 20 Ole Miss Rebels.
LSU (3-1) is currently 2-0 in the SEC with wins over Mississippi State and Arkansas. But a closer-than-expected victory over the Razorbacks last week has Tiger fans nervous about this team’s prospects of making back-to-back SEC title games.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss (3-1) comes into the game with an impressive victory over Group of 5 power Tulane, but little else. Last week’s loss to Alabama snapped the Rebels’ three-game win streak and throttled their season expectations, losing to a Crimson Tide team that is experiencing a down year thus far.
With two teams desperately needing wins, which players can bettors expect to step up in the game? Here are four players to watch Saturday when LSU plays Ole Miss this weekend.
Rebels QB Jaxson Dart is completing 63% of his passes for 1,096 yards and seven TDs with two INTs in 2023. As a mobile QB, he’s also added 219 yards on the ground with three rushing TDs.
Yet as impressive as the Utah native is, Dart is also turnover-prone, having surrendered 27 turnovers (18 INTs, 9 Fumbles) in 23 career games. While Ole Miss prefers to be a run-first offense, expect the Rebels to be throwing the football Saturday against LSU.
With an increased passing workload, Dart should be a lock to throw at least one interception Saturday. In last year’s contest, Dart tossed an interception and fumbled once in the 45-20 loss to the Tigers.
When LSU hosted Ole Miss last season, Jayden Daniels had his best rushing game donning a Tigers uniform. The former Arizona State signal caller rushed 23 times for 121 yards and three TDs. For that reason, oddsmakers have set this over/under bet higher than any 2023 rushing total Daniels has produced.
Don’t expect Daniels to run as much in this year’s battle with the Rebels. Through four games, Daniels has only cleared the 60-yard mark twice.
Instead of running the ball down opponents’ throats, the LSU QB has turned his attention to the passing game, throwing for nearly 1,300 yards in his first four games.
While we’re on the topic of LSU’s passing attack, Daniels' second-favorite target this year is third-year player Brian Thomas Jr. The Louisiana native has recorded more yards through his first four games of 2023 than any other season.
Expect Thomas to easily surpass the 70-yard mark in receptions against the soft backfield Ole Miss deploys. Thomas should finish with triple-digit receiving yards as most of the Rebels’ focus will be on stopping fellow Tigers WR Malik Nabers.
The reason much of the Rebels’ defensive efforts will be on stopping Malik Nabers is the LSU WR has been unstoppable at times. After a rough outing against Florida State to start the season, Nabers has amassed 456 yards receiving off 26 receptions for five TDs.
In both of his past two games, Nabers has snagged two TDs. Expect Nabers to continue on this torrid streak Saturday, especially with LSU following the same blueprint that Alabama used to expose the Ole Miss secondary last weekend.