Louisville vs. Ole Miss
Line: Ole Miss -9.5
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
When: Monday, 9/6 at 8:00 p.m. ET
The college football weekend is going to wrap up on Labor Day when Ole Miss faces Louisville at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Monday’s opening total of 74.5 points was the highest of Week 1 and it had risen to 75.5 by Sunday night. However, by lunch today, the tally had dipped down to 74.5 at most shops and all the way to 73.5 at FanDuel. Ole Miss ranked third nationally in yards per game during the 2020 season, while Louisville has gone ‘over’ the total in 12 of its last 16 games.
Oddsmakers opened Ole Miss as a seven-point favorite, but it was bet up to -10. The line has dropped back down to -8.5 after Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin tested positive for COVID-19. He will not coach in tonight’s season opener.
“I am grateful to be vaccinated and experiencing only mild symptoms. So much so, I debated over being tested, but I’m relieved that I did,” Kiffin said. “I’m proud of our program’s commitment to vaccination, and as a result, there are currently no other cases to report or team members expected to miss the game.”
Ole Miss has yet to announce who will take over as the acting head coach on Monday. Starting quarterback Matt Corral could have missed the game as a close contact, but he is fully vaccinated.
Corral has started 14 games over the last two seasons. He has led Ole Miss to a 7-2 record when he does not throw an interception, but he is 0-5 when he does get picked off. Corral entered the weekend with the 10th-shortest odds to win the Heisman Trophy.
Running back Jerrion Ealy is back after rushing for 745 yards last season. Wide receivers Dontario Drummond and Jeremiah Mingo combined for 52 receptions in Kiffin’s offense. They will provide a challenge for Louisville cornerbacks Kei’trel Clark and Chandler Jones.
The Cardinals were average defensively in 2020, allowing 369.1 yards per game. They rely on an offense that tallied 444.2 yards per contest. Quarterback Malik Cunningham threw for 2,617 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. However, his 12 interceptions raise the same concerns that Ole Miss has about Corral.
Cunningham also rushed for 609 yards as part of a rushing attack that averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Louisville does not return the same production as Ole Miss offensively, though, as wide receivers Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick were both drafted. Running back Javian Hawkins is also gone after rushing for 822 yards and seven TDs while averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
The Cardinals went 4-7 last season, while Ole Miss finished 5-5 in its first season under Kiffin. The Rebels allowed the 10th-most points in the country (38.3 PPG), but they have added nine new faces in the secondary.
Louisville has gone ‘over’ the total in four of its last five games against an SEC opponent. The Cardinals have covered in six of their last eight season openers and they are 4-1 ATS in their last five Monday games.
Ole Miss has gone ‘over’ in four of its last five Week 1 games and it has cashed the ‘over’ in five of its last six September games. The Rebels are 13-4 straight up in their last 17 games as favorites.
The pick: Ole Miss -8.5
Kiffin is not going to be on the field for this game, but he has had several weeks to get his team ready. Louisville has a plethora of question marks surrounding its roster heading into the year. The Cardinals are replacing most of their skill position players on offense and their quarterback is turnover prone. Ole Miss has revamped its secondary and has a Heisman candidate at quarterback. Louisville does not have a defense that is going to get many stops on Monday night, which will allow the Rebels to win by double digits. There is not as much value left at this point, but anything under 10 is still a good bet.