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Free Pick: Louisville at Mississippi 9/6/21
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Louisville at Mississippi 9/6/21

This game will be played on Labor Day and will cap off what has been a great opening week of college football. It will feature an improving Louisville Cardinals team from the ACC, against a “sleeper” team in the Ole Miss Rebels from the SEC. Let’s break this one down.

Quarterback: Both teams have experienced quarterbacks that will lead their teams in 2021. The Cardinals return Malik Cunningham, who threw for 2617 yards with 20 touchdowns in 2020. He also threw 12 interceptions and that is of some concern. He’s a dual-threat guy and make plays. Ole Miss will counter with Matt Corral who led the nation in total offense with 385 yards per game. Advantage: Mississippi

Running Backs: Mississippi will start Jerrion Ealy who rushed for 745 yards in 2020. Louisville returns Jalen Mitchell who finished 2020 as the leading back. Advantage: Neither

Wide Receivers: The Cardinals have some question marks at receiver and will trot out some young, unproven players and will include Jordan Watkins and Braden Smith. Meanwhile Ole Miss lost Corral’s favorite target, Elijah Moore, who led the nation in receptions last year. They have talented starters back led by Dontario Drummond and Jonathan Mingo. Advantage: Mississippi

Offensive Line: The Rebels return four starters from a good group in 2020. There is some intrigue with this situation as Coach Lane Kiffin fired the offensive line coach just days after the spring game. Louisville has plenty of experience returning and should be strong up front. Advantage: Neither

Defensive Line: This is an area where Mississippi tried very hard to improve in the offseason. They added two promising JUCOs and both are expected to make an improvement. Louisville lost NT, Jared Goldwire but have depth at defensive end and think Malik Clark can take over in the middle. Advantage: Louisville

Linebackers: The Cardinals return, C.J. Avery, their leading tackler from the last two years. They have depth at the position. Ole Miss is looking for much better play from returnee, Lakia Henry. Advantage: Louisville

Secondary: The Rebels consider the secondary as the strength of their defense. They have three starters back to lead the way. Louisville is well-stocked at corner and Tre’ Clark might be their best defensive player. Safety is a position that they have to shore up. Advantage: Mississippi

Coaching: Scott Satterfield is in his 3rd season at Louisville and has done a decent job in stabilizing the program. However, they are coming off a disappointing 2020 and need to rebound in the upcoming season. The Rebels are led by the always interesting, Lane Kiffin. Kiffin is well-known for his exciting and productive offenses and Ole Miss had one of the best in 2020. Advantage: Mississippi

Ole Miss is a 10 point favorite in this one and if they have improved on defense they could have a good season. The Cardinals are no pushover and they are well-coached and should be ready to play. However, the Rebels are at home and have a lot of firepower to cover the spread.

Our Pick: Mississippi -10

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