Texas-Mississippi Preview

The Associated Press

While Texas finds itself on the verge of a sixth consecutive 3-0 start, Mississippi is seeking its first since 1989.

The 14th-ranked Longhorns could have their hands full Saturday night when they visit Bo Wallace and the Rebels, who have proven fairly formidable under first-year coach Hugh Freeze.

After struggling a bit in a season-opening 37-17 win over Wyoming, Texas (2-0) cruised to a 45-0 victory over New Mexico last Saturday. David Ash opened the scoring with a 49-yard touchdown run and went on to complete 16 of 22 passes for 221 yards and two more scores.

"The best thing about tonight - it was a fun game for the whole team," coach Mack Brown said. "Everybody got to play.

"It makes your football team better. Morale is better. Kids are happier. Mamas are happier. Everybody is happier. And you get better as a football team because you gain more depth."

While the Longhorns carry plenty of momentum into the weekend, they figure to be tested against Mississippi (2-0), which appears headed in the right direction after going 6-18 over the previous two seasons.

"We're very excited about this week," Freeze said. "We have one of the nation's best teams coming into Oxford ... but at the same time it's a great opportunity. It's going to be a great environment. Our young kids will hopefully be very excited. The young kids will hopefully show up not too anxious or emotional and play sound football and give us a chance to compete in it."

The Rebels, averaging an SEC-best 551.5 yards per game, beat Central Arkansas 49-27 in their opener before handing UTEP a 28-10 defeat last Saturday.

Wallace has completed 76.7 percent of his passes (35 of 46) to rank second in the SEC while throwing for 438 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. The first-year starter also has run for two scores and his 135 rushing yards top the conference among quarterbacks.

"They've got a quarterback that (can) run the show," Longhorns defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. "Bo Wallace has done a nice job. He's got a presence about him, and he's making the plays when you're there.

"They've got (receivers) who can go down the field and win one-on-ones and get the football, and now they have a guy in the middle that can get it to them. So it's quite a challenge for us."

Wallace's favorite target has been fellow sophomore Donte Moncrief, who has 11 catches for 176 yards and two scores.

Besides trying to contain Wallace and Moncrief, Texas, which surrendered 206 rushing yards last weekend, could be hard-pressed to slow down Jeff Scott. The speedy running back had 111 yards on 12 carries last Saturday after missing the opener with a lingering back injury.

"We've counted on Jeff going into this season and fortunately he seemed to be healthy," Freeze said. "He had to serve a little suspension for us because he missed a class so he sat out the first quarter, but he had a good three quarters after that. We're thrilled to have him back."

Ole Miss, though, won't have defensive back Trae Elston after the SEC suspended him for one game due to a "flagrant and dangerous act" during last weekend's victory.

The Rebels have been outscored by an average of 20.1 points in losing all eight meetings against Top 25 foes over the previous two seasons. Texas is 32-1 against unranked non-conference opponents over the past nine years.

The Longhorns have taken five of six all-time matchups in this series, but the teams haven't met since 1966.

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