College Football Preview – Mississippi Rebels vs. Louisville Cardinals
Lane Kiffin will not be on the sidelines this Monday night when the Mississippi Rebels take on the Louisville Cardinals. Kiffin was diagnosed with a breakthrough case of COVID on Saturday, leading to him not accompanying his team to Atlanta for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game. That means either offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby or co-defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is likely to be the acting head coach in the final game of Week 1 of the college football season. Despite not having Kiffin present, Ole Miss is a double-digit favorite per the college football betting odds.
The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game between the Mississippi Rebels and Louisville Cardinals will take place on Monday, September 6, 2021. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on ESPN from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
College Football Betting Odds
Scott Satterfield is entering his third season as head coach of Louisville. He engineered an incredible turnaround in 2019, leading the Cardinals to an 8-5 record despite dealing with the wreckage that Bobby Petrino left behind. However, Satterfield only managed to go 4-7 in 2020 and has fallen out of favor after openly flirting with other jobs.
Ole Miss has yet to announce who will be head coach for this game. Durkin is seen as the most likely option since he was formerly the head coach of Maryland, but Lebby is one of the most well-respected offensive assistants in the sport.
When Mississippi Has the Ball
Matt Corral was one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the country in 2020. Corral flourished in this offense, completing 70.9% of his passes for 3,337 yards with 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He averaged 10.2 YPA and 4.5 YPC, making the Rebels one of the top offenses in the country with his efficiency. The goal now is to cut down on the interceptions.
Standout receiver Elijah Moore is now in the NFL. However, many of the other top skill position players return including leading rusher Jerrion Ealy. Ealy ran for 745 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 5.1 YPC in 2020. Dontario Drummond and Jonathan Mingo will be the top two receivers after seeing significant action last year, and Braylon Sanders is a real big play threat.
Louisville’s secondary has some major questions. Kei’Trel Clark was an all-ACC performer in 2020, but safeties Qwynnterrio Cole and Kenderick Duncan are both transferring in from lesser programs. C.J. Avery was the leading tackler last season and will hear his name called a lot.
When Louisville Has the Ball
Malik Cunningham was superb in his first season as a starter in 2019. Cunningham completed 62.6% of his passes for 2,065 yards (11.5 YPA) with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. However, he was far more turnover prone in 2020 and averaged just 8.6 YPA while throwing 12 picks. Cunningham is an elite runner, so that should open things up in the passing game. However, he must cut down on the turnovers.
The Cardinals lose their top two receivers and leading running back from 2020. That will make things more difficult for Cunningham, but they still have Braden Smith, Marshon Ford, and Jalen Mitchell in place. The addition of former Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts will give an edge to the offense too, and we might see some trick plays with him at the center.
Ole Miss must be better on defense. The Rebels allowed 38.3 PPG and 519 YPG in 2020. That led to the team taking on quite a few transfers, since the offense is there for the team to contend. There are a lot of moving parts, but Durkin and co-defensive coordinator Chris Partridge are both well-respected.
This game could be a rout. Corral is going to put up big numbers against this untested defense, and it would be a surprise if the Rebels didn’t get to 40 points. Ole Miss will do a good enough job on defense to cover the number.
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