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Hot Reads: Rebels, Vols traveling road to redemption

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Rebels QB Bo Wallace is already the big man on campus, but his star will rise even higher if his team topples the Longhorns. (Source: Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics) Rebels QB Bo Wallace is already the big man on campus, but his star will rise even higher if his team topples the Longhorns. (Source: Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics)
Tyler Bray. (Source: University of Tennessee) Tyler Bray. (Source: University of Tennessee)
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(RNN) – First off, let's just say this – Louisiana-Monroe made Nick Saban look pretty good this past Saturday.

No, not because the Warhawks' win over Arkansas gave Alabama even more of a status boost in the SEC West. Last week Saban railed a group of reporters for fast-forwarding the Crimson Tide to the BCS Championship game and disrespecting "weaker" opponents on the schedule.

Three days later the Razorbacks – then the No. 8 team in the nation and an outside contender for a division title – got their butts handed to them by what is currently the Sun Belt's most popular team.

You can't be too mad at sportswriters, Coach Saban. From August through January, the average college coach spends more time watching game film than he does sleeping.

But seriously, watch more game film, sportswriters. And if you can't find the time for that, at least wrap your head around this daunting reality – This. Isn't. Your. Daddy's. College. Football.

Although some coaches can still stockpile talent and let it rot on the bench for two years by selling tradition and winning – Ahem! Not mentioning names, but you know who you are – most highly rated prospects want as many reps as possible to audition for the next level.

That means talented kids will go to less prestigious schools for immediate playing time, and coaching staffs will think of clever ways to showcase the abilities of the stars that the likes of the SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten overlook.

Long story short – anyone has a chance to beat anyone else. Period.

Bo knows offense

Ole Miss sophomore QB Bo Wallace, who is the team's leading passer and rusher, has led his team to a 2-0 record heading into Saturday's matchup with Texas. Hmmmm, the Longhorns know something about that. Some dude named Vince Young led the team in both those categories on the way to a BCS championship in 2006.

That is by no means a prediction, we're just saying.

But here's something Hot Reads does feel comfortable about forecasting: Ole Miss and Texas will be the most interesting matchup for any SEC team this weekend.

Last week, Hot Reads made the prediction that Ole Miss probably wouldn't sniff at another win for the rest of the season. It might be time to man up and eat those words.

The Rebels and Longhorns have strong similarities in several aspects, and in some cases Ole Miss is clearly superior.

The Rebels are losing the time of possession battle after two games this year, which normally would spell doom against a team like Texas. But Ole Miss is eating up rushing yards at a much better rate than the Longhorns. That means Ole Miss gets down the field fast, and they make their chances count.

Texas isn't better in any significant way against teams that are as weak or weaker than the Rebels' opponents thus far.

Texas has been better defensively – again, against weaker competition – but if this game turns into a shootout the Rebels have the upper hand.

Also, keep a close eye out for junior receiver Korvic Neat. He is a carbon copy of Dexter McCluster, whose explosiveness as a rusher and receiver led Ole Miss to an 18-8 record and two bowl wins in his final two seasons in The Grove.

Hey, Bulldogs, remember us?

Mississippi State travels to play Troy this Saturday. So what?

Well, so glad you asked. Let's play a little game of "Did you know?"

Did you know that Troy has not gone 0-2 in its first two home games in 30 years?

Did you know that Troy's first-ever win against an FBS opponent was against Mississippi State?

Does that mean anything? Maybe not, especially since this is the first time an SEC team has visited Troy, and that 0-2 home start in 1982 was while the Trojans were still an FCS powerhouse (excuse me, Michigan, Appalachian State is on line 3).

The Bulldogs are the top team in the nation in turnover margin and also among the leaders in total defense, including a pass defense that should match up well with Troy's air raid attack. Those are pretty impressive chops, considering one of their first two opponents was a non-conference cupcake and the other was Auburn.

Tyler Russell has been a revelation at QB, and although LaDarius Perkins is the featured back, redshirt freshman Derrick Milton looks like the kid on the block who could take your watch and your girlfriend.

You still need to watch out for Troy, though. Shawn Southward has racked up 248 rushing yards on a team that will pass the ball more times than you can blink. The Trojan tradition of elite pass rushers has fallen off considerably, but they have aggressive linebackers and a 6'2", 220-pound freight train lining up at strong safety named Brynden Trawick.

SEC. vs. SEC

Obviously, Florida and Tennessee is the biggest NFL Lite game of the weekend.

And will someone please ask Tyler Bray to send us a message from space when he gets a minute? Seriously, that kid has been unreal, and he's getting plenty of help with a stout running game and a stingy defense.

If you see any reason that Tennessee will lose this game, you have something better than 20/20 vision because Hot Reads has looked into Florida's chances, and they‘re way down on the eye chart.

Here's how much trouble Florida is in. Running back Mike Gillislee has 231 yards of total offense so far this season. The next six highest guys combined have 144.

Clearly, the Gators have some issues to work out in pass protection after giving up eight sacks against Texas A&M, and they are horrible on third down.

Pay attention to this one thing: red zone efficiency. Tennessee has scored on 10-of-12 trips inside the 20 (7 TDs), and Florida is 3-of-3 (2 TDs). This is important because the Volunteers also have not stopped an opponent from scoring in the red zone (6-of-6).

If this game is a defensive battle – and the odds say it won't be – or it goes into overtime, Florida's abysmal offense still gets a heads up over Tennessee.

David (LA-Monroe) topples Goliath (Arkansas)

Anyone remember the party scene from Say Anything? The goofy-but-sweet aspiring kickboxer Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) scores a date with pretty valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye).

A girl at the party walks up to Diane, makes quotation marks with her fingers and asks what everyone else in school is thinking: "How'd that happen?"

That's exactly the type of moment I had when the final score from this game flashed across the ESPN ticker.

Here's how it happened. Arkansas' fourth-down defense stunk like a muddied pig, pun intended.

The Warhawks converted 6-of-7 fourth downs, which is not extremely surprising because Todd Berry goes for it about as often as Bill Clinton did in the Oval Office.

But get this: LA-Monroe's last three touchdowns were on fourth down. The Warhawks were only 3-of-6 in the red zone, and all three of those conversions were for TDs.

We were all just dying to know if Arkansas was game for its big matchup against Alabama, and we found out a full seven days before kickoff.

True, we just established that parity in college football is at an all-time high, but no team – especially one that considers itself a serious player in the SEC – should lose a game with a three-touchdown lead, no matter the opponent.

Arkansas committed six penalties – uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco, seis castigos – in the third quarter alone and lost the time of possession battle by more than 12 minutes in the second half. That should never happen against a team that throws the ball 60 times.

And yeah, Tyler Wilson got hurt. But people, they give him a scholarship to throw to receivers, not cover them.

This Week's Unique Stat

40: An LSU win against Idaho on Saturday would put the Bayou Bengals in a class of their own. Their 39 consecutive non-conference wins in the regular season is tied with Kansas State for the most in NCAA history.

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