T25-Top 25 Preview Capsule

Updated: September 23, 2009, 10:39 PM ET
Associated Press

Thursday, Sept. 24

No. 4 Mississippi (2-0) at South Carolina (2-1, 0-1 SEC), 7:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Mississippi by 3½.

Series Record: Mississippi leads 8-6.

Last Meeting: 2008, South Carolina 24-17

What's at Stake

The Rebels rise' to the top five. Wins over Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana were nice, but Mississippi expects to receive a stronger test in the Southeastern Conference opener against the Gamecocks. Rebels QB Jevan Snead can also cement his place as the league's second-highest profile quarterback with a big game. South Carolina won a Thursday night showdown against an SEC upstart two years ago over No. 8 Kentucky. However, the Gamecocks have lost six straight to ranked opponents since. Coach Steve Spurrier is anxious for his team to turn a corner.

Key Matchup

Mississippi QB Jevan Snead vs. South Carolina LB Eric Norwood: Snead and the Rebels were fresh off their landmark victory at The Swamp last season when South Carolina came to town. But Snead lost a fumble and threw an interception in that one as Ole Miss squandered a 14-3 lead to lose 24-17. Norwood, the Gamecocks' senior defender and the SEC's active sack leader, has been a Thursday night marvel in his career. Two years ago, Norwood returned two fumbles for touchdowns against Kentucky. Earlier this year, Norwood had five tackles and keyed South Carolina's defense in a 7-3 win at North Carolina State.

Players to watch

Mississippi: DE Greg Hardy. Coach Houston Nutt said he expected the Rebels' defensive star to play against South Carolina. And that means Hardy could be key in pressuring young Gamecocks passer Stephen Garcia. Hardy sprained his ankle in the opener against Memphis and did not play in the win over Southeastern Louisiana. Hardy has 18½ sacks in his career.

South Carolina: RB Jarvis Giles. The Gamecocks freshman earned his first 100-yard game -- and the program's first 100-yard rushing performance in more than a year -- in a 38-16 win over Florida Atlantic. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier thinks Giles can be a big-play threat out of the backfield.

Facts & Figures

Mississippi hasn't been ranked as high as No. 4 since QB Archie Manning led the Rebels in 1970. ... Rebels defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix held the same position with Spurrier's Gamecocks from 2005-2007. ... South Carolina defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye will start after serving a three-game suspension for an offseason arrest.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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