NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi

The race to represent the SEC West in December's SEC Championship game will become a little clearer after No. 13 LSU faces No. 20 Ole Miss on Saturday. The Tigers have dominated this series as of late, taking six of the past seven matchups, but the Rebels won the last time the two teams played at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in 2021. 

Revenge will the storyline of this game for Ole Miss, which entered last season's meeting 7-0 and No. 7 nationally (its highest ranking since 2015). The Tigers were 5-2 and unranked. Everything changed when LSU cruised to a 45-20 win at Tiger Stadium behind five total touchdowns from quarterback Jayden Daniels. Ole Miss dropped five of its final six games, including the LSU loss and a Texas Bowl defeat. The Tigers beat Alabama the following week and rose to as high as No. 5 in the College Football Playoff Rankings on their way to an SEC West crown.

But a new season has shaken things up in the SEC West, and the division appears up for grabs following early nonconference losses from LSU and Alabama. With the conference expanding and eschewing divisions next season, this game is poised to play a pivotal role in determining who the final SEC West champion will be.

How to watch LSU vs. Ole Miss live

Date: Saturday, Sept. 30 | Time: 6 p.m. ET
Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium -- Oxford, Mississippi
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fubo (Try for free)

LSU vs. Ole Miss: Need to know

Limiting explosive plays: LSU and Ole Miss are tied for sixth nationally in plays of 25 yards or more. Both teams have rattled off 20 such chunk gains through four games. Among other teams who've played just four games, only Washington, Louisville and USC have more. But the Tigers and Rebels have also struggled defensively in limiting explosive plays. In its season-opening 45-24 loss to Florida State, LSU surrendered three touchdown plays covering 20 yards or more, including two that spanned 40 yards or more. In LSU's 34-31 win against Arkansas last week, two of the Razorbacks' touchdowns came on passing plays of 19 and 59 yards. Ole Miss allowed a 75-yard touchdown run against Mercer, a 41-yard touchdown pass against Tulane and a 33-yard touchdown pass against Alabama. This game may come down to which defense can limit big plays. 

More targets for Prieskorn: Ole Miss tight end Caden Prieskorn made a 21-yard grab on the Rebels' first offensive play against Alabama but didn't catch another pass. Prieskorn caught 48 passes for Memphis last year and was regarded as a high-impact transfer. The Rebels need to establish their 6-foot-6 target in the passing game, especially now that tight end Michael Trigg is no longer in the program.

Getting off the field: LSU is fifth nationally in third-down conversions at 58%, but the Tigers struggle getting off the field themselves. They are tied for 99th nationally in third-down defense as opponents have converted 56% of their third-down plays. Florida State converted 9 of 14 third-down plays against the Tigers in Week 1, and Arkansas converted 6 of 10 third-down attempts last week. Given the excellent mobility of by Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart, LSU should be challenged on third downs yet again.

LSU vs. Ole Miss prediction, picks

Odds via SportsLine consensus

The Ole Miss passing attack is not yet cohesive enough to exploit the holes in LSU's secondary as the Rebels have dealt with a run of early-season injuries among some key pass-catchers. LSU is also physical enough to continue frustrating an Ole Miss running game that was a disappointment against Tulane and Alabama. Given LSU's proven ability to score in a hurry, look for the Tigers to pull away in the second half. Pick: LSU -2.5

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Dennis Dodd
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Tom Fornelli
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Chip Patterson
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Barrett Sallee
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Shehan Jeyarajah
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David Cobb
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Jerry Palm
LSU -2.5

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