By now, you’ve heard way too much about the heat and humidity factor that will affect BYU in Oxford tomorrow. The Cougars have played in the deep South before – most recently at Tallahassee last year – and they know what to expect and how to prepare for it. I don’t see the climate being a factor for Bronco’s boys unless they have to play catch-up.

Here are the three keys that will make or break the game for either team:

Ole Miss Offensive Line vs. BYU Front Seven

If the Rebels control the line of scrimmage and make money on the scoreboard, Cougar QB Jake Heaps will be forced to come up with multiple big plays to counter the lack of time left on the clock. Conversely, if BYU’s D can draw the line early and often, transfer QB Barry Brunetti will be forced to go to the air more than Houston Nutt would like.

BYU Pass Protection vs. Ole Miss Pass Rush

A lot of attention has been given to the matchup between BYU’s receivers and Rebel defenders. True, if Cougar receivers have a field day, BYU will leave Mississippi with a W. Conversely, it won’t hurt the Cougar offensive strategy if their receivers get locked down. BYU simply has too many pairs of hands on the field who can catch and move the ball. As long as the receivers are occupying Rebel corners, someone else will get open. The key for OC Brandon Doman’s offense is to give Heaps the time to find that someone open. If Heaps is disrupted in the pocket frequently, the BYU’s offensive game plan will unravel.

Special Teams Play & Turnovers

The average regulation time college football game generates between 18-22 total special teams plays.┬áBig plays by the special teams unit of either squad can be game-changers. The same with turnovers. It’s a simple equation, but the team that wins the turnover battle and prevents their opponent from making any momentum-changing special teams plays – while holding steady in the rest of the game flow – will have a decisive advantage in the final score.

Prediction

It’s going to take Doman a couple games to get his play-calling bearings straight. BYU will hang close for a while, but the Ole Miss line play will wear the Cougars down on both sides of the line of scrimmage and pull out a close, fairly low-scoring game. Mississippi 24 BYU 20