Photo credit - The Outback Bowl

IU football vs. Ole Miss: Outback Bowl game day primer and prediction

Winning a bowl game has been a stated program goal of head coach Tom Allen since he took the job four years ago.

Indiana has been routinely registering once-in-generation accomplishments for the last 15 months.

Now the Hoosiers have their sights set on a something that has eluded them for 29 years.  IU has been close, losing three bowl game appearances over the last five years by a total of six points.

The next opportunity comes on Saturday in Tampa.  It’s Indiana and Ole Miss at the 2020 Outback Bowl.


THE  OUTBACK BOWL:  No. 7/8 INDIANA (6-1) vs. MISSISSIPPI (4-5)

  • Kickoff:  12:30 p.m. ET
  • Location:  Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
  • Television:  ABC (Stream via WatchESPN.com and the ESPN mobile app (iOS/Android)
  • Series:  First meeting
  • Odds:  Indiana is an 9.5 point favorite
  • Weather at kickoff:  79 degrees, cloudy, wind 11 mph, 5% chance of precipitation.

Tom Allen is 24-21 as he completes his fourth full season as the head coach at Indiana.

Lane Kiffin is in his first season at Ole Miss, taking the reins for the Rebels as the 39th head coach in program history. Kiffin, who won two Conference USA titles in three seasons at Florida Atlantic, has more than 10 years of head coaching experience, including eight years at the NCAA level where he has posted an all-time record of 65-39


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TALE OF THE TAPE 

WHEN OLE MISS HAS THE FOOTBALL

The numbers don’t lie — this Ole Miss offense is a juggernaut.

But the numbers might be lying — because much of the Ole Miss offense that posted those numbers won’t be playing on Saturday.

The Rebels’ top two receivers, wideout Elijah Moore (86 catches, 1,193 yards, 8 TDs) and tight end Kenny Yeboah (27 catches, 524 yards, 6 TDs) both opted out before their last game of the season.

Leading running back Jerrion Ealy (745 yards, 5.1 ypc, 9 TDs) and third leading wide receiver Braylon Sanders both suffered injuries in the regular season finale against LSU.  Neither appear to be ready to return.

Moore, Sanders and Yeboah accounted for 67% of the Rebels’ receiving yards this season.

All is not lost, however.

Credit – Ole Miss Athletics

Quarterback Matt Corral was sensational in 2020, completing 201-of-282 passes (71.3 percent) with 27 touchdowns passes.  A true dual threat, the 6-foot-1 Corral rushed 105 times for 469 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The interesting thing about Corral is that he has thrown 14 interceptions, and perhaps even more interesting, 11 of them came in two games against LSU and Arkansas.

Ole Miss will turn to freshman Henry Parrish and sophomore Snoop Conner as primary runners if Ealy can’t play.  They combined for 578 rushing yards on the season.

Lane Kiffin’s high-powered up-tempo offense amassed 647 yards against Alabama.  It won’t be an easy scheme to defend in warm weather after a month off.  IU will likely go deep into its rotations, and it will be a surprise if the Rebels don’t make things challenging for the Hoosiers.

WHEN INDIANA HAS THE FOOTBALL

Things have changed quite a bit since Tom Allen left Oxford.

In fact, the Rebels resemble the nightmarish Indiana defense that Allen was hired to fix in Bloomington.  They’ve allowed more than 40 points five times, and more than 50 points three times.

It is an interesting challenge for Hoosier quarterback Jack Tuttle.  In just his second career start, Tuttle will likely need to produce to keep pace with the Ole Miss offense.  He proved himself against Wisconsin, but that was a defensive battle.  We’ll see if Tuttle can sustain high level production if the game turns into a shootout.

The Rebels run a 4-3/3-4 multiple defense under co-coordinators Chris Partridge and D.J. Durkin.  They’ve been bad against both the pass and the run, admittedly while facing some high-powered offenses during an all-SEC schedule.  Nationally, no team is giving up yardage at as high a rate as the Rebels.

Despite their struggles, Ole Miss has playmakers at all three levels.  Defensive end Sam Williams has 4 sacks and 7 tackles for loss.  Linebackers Jacques Jones and Lakia Henry lead the team in tackles with 62 apiece.  Henry has 5 tackles for loss.  Safety A.J. Finley has 3 interceptions and 6 pass break-ups.

As is often the case, Indiana’s suspect offensive line will be a big key.  If the Hoosiers can establish the run and give Tuttle a clean pocket they should be able to move the ball with relative ease.

PREDICTION

On paper Ole Miss looks a lot like Indiana during the Nate Sudfeld days — high powered offense, ridiculously bad on the defensive end.

Obviously it will be strength against strength when Ole Miss has the ball, and more questions than answers when IU possesses it.

Tuttle has been steady to this point.  There is no reason to doubt him now.

And there is no reason to doubt what should be a highly motivated Indiana squad.

The Hoosiers end a long run of futility and earn their first bowl win in 29 years.

INDIANA 38

OLE MISS 28


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