SHAKE OFF THE RUST: The biggest wild card in this game is James Franklin. While he is 100%, does he play that way from the outset or does it take him a couple of drives to get going? The latter might be a safe bet. First of all, Franklin needs to minimize the rustiness at the start of the game. Second, the Tiger defense has to do its job to keep Missouri's head above water early and avoid falling behind by too much.
CONTAIN THE QB RUN GAME: Ole Miss doesn't have Johnny Manziel, but Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti have combined to run for 484 yards and eight touchdowns on 153 carries. The Rebels will utilize the zone read and designed quarterback run plays probably more than any team the Tigers have faced. The last real mobile quarterback Missouri played was way back in week two against Toledo and they got burned a few times. The aggressive Missouri defense needs to stay in its lanes and not let the quarterbacks get out and run into the secondary.
HIT THE OPEN MAN: Much was made of Dorial Green-Beckham's four-touchdown day against Kentucky, as it should have been. But was DGB big in that game because he was better, or because other Missouri receivers were garnering more attention? The Tigers have plenty of weapons in the passing game. It doesn't matter which one is catching the ball as long as someone is. Franklin doesn't need to force the ball to DGB or any other individual. Just hit the open man and keep the chains moving.
PREDICTION TIME: Maybe I'm a moron. The Ole Miss fans reading this will call me worse than that. I'll admit, maybe I'm picking this one with my heart. Not as a Missouri fan, but as someone who wants to see next week and all the buildup be what this season deserves it to be. If the Tigers lose this game, next week loses pretty much all of its luster. But if they win...There is little doubt Ole Miss has the skill players to run with Mizzou. But I think the Tigers are better--maybe substantially so--on both lines. I have seen this team go into at least three games with people thinking this was the week it would end (Indiana, Vandy, UGA). And each time, the Tigers responded with a very good performance and a resounding win. I'm done doubting. Consider this the prediction that announces I'm all in on this Tiger team. Missouri 45, Ole Miss 28