Ole Miss at Florida Preview: Three Key Matchups to Watch

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Sep 26, 2015; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly (10) during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Irresistible Force vs. the Immovable Object

Through the first four weeks of the season, the Ole Miss offense has been an Irresistible Force. The Rebels are off to a historic start this season, and are currently averaging 54.8 points per game, which ranks second only to Baylor nationally. Through just four games, Ole Miss has scored 219 points. That is more points than the Rebels scored in the entirety of the 2011 (193), 2006 (188), 2005 (148) and 2004 (215) seasons.

With an average of 344.5 yards per game, the Rebels lead the SEC in passing offense, and they also lead the league with 543.5 total yards per game. Quarterback Chad Kelly leads the conference with 1,219 passing yards and Kelly’s 17.17 yards per pass also leads the SEC (and ranks No. 2 nationally). He leads the league with 319 total yards per game, and ranks second with ten touchdowns.

And the quarterback has no shortage of weapons. Laquon Treadwell had 135 yards on eight catches against Vanderbilt, his fourth career 100-yard game, Cody Core leads the SEC in yards per catch (22.9), and Quincy Adeboyejo, who leads the SEC with five TD catches, isn’t far behind at 22.4.

There’s also the running back duo of Jaylen Walton, who is averaging 6.4 yards per carry (269 yards, 3 TD), and Jordan Wilkins (146 yards, 1 TD), as well as tight end Evan Engram. Though largely unproductive through the first three games of the season, the All-American candidate had 41 receiving yards against Vandy, which raised his season total to 68.

However, even in the 43-37 victory over No. 2 Alabama two weeks ago, the Rebels haven’t faced a defense as stout as Florida’s. The Gators rush defense (105 yards per game) currently ranks No. 3 in the SEC and No. 22 in the nation and Florida also ranks No. 22 in total defense (298.3), which is the fourth best average in the SEC. Opponents are averaging just 4.48 yards per play this season.

Also, the Gators are a big play defense. Led by defensive linemen Bryan Cox Jr. and Jonathan Bullard, Florida has had at least two sacks in five straight games, and has 14 total this season, which is the sixth most in the country. Florida also has 35 tackles for loss, and have forced seven turnovers this season.

Interestingly enough, there is one statistic in which the Irresistible Force and Immovable Object change sides. Florida is a perfect 10-for-10 this season converting fourth down opportunities on offense, and the Gators were 5-for-5 last week against Florida – including the 63-yard touchdown pass from Will Grier to Antonio Callaway on 4th-and-14 that proved to be the game-winner. Ole Miss, however, has stopped opponents on eight of ten fourth down tries this season, good for a 20 percent average that is the lowest in the SEC.

Next: Treadwell vs. Hargreaves