By any standard, this Is hardly a spectacular Rice team, but it was sound enough to finish in a three-way tie for second place in the stiff Southwest Conference, where the football is always good. Coach Jess Neely dotes on ball control and, lacking a breakaway runner, is content to have his Owls hack out two or three yards at a time, usually inside the tackles. Quarterbacks Bill Cox and Randy Kerbow occasionally roll out and pass from a pro-type slot T. Keep an eye on the middle of the line, where the hefty King boys, Boyd and Rufus, and Bobby Lively hit hard and spark a solid defense which gave up only seven touchdowns all season. The three-deep pass defense is tight enough on long throws, but it can be suckered by shorties into the flats. This deficiency, which showed up against Baylor, is almost certain to attract the attention of Mississippi's talented Jake Gibbs and, along with a painful absence of depth, could cost the Owls dearly.
Frugal on defense, lavish on offense, Ole Miss can win in many ways. But the most effective way is to turn the job over to Jake Gibbs, one of college football's best passers. Big and rangy, Gibbs has the pro knack of waiting for his receivers to get into the clear, then throwing with sharp accuracy, usually to zigzagging Halfback Bobby Crespino or End Johnny Brewer. Gibbs has completed 66 of 109 passes for 970 yards and 12 touchdowns this year and, just to prove his versatility, has run for five more scores. Hard-hitting Fullback Jim Anderson supplies the inside bursts necessary to complement Gibbs' passing, and a forceful, tough line (fourth in the nation in rushing defense) provides ample protection. Mississippi faltered only twice during the year, but both times Center Allen Green rescued the Rebels with last-second field goals to beat Arkansas 10-7 and tie LSU 6-6. The likelihood is, however, that Ole Miss will probably not have to resort to histrionics to beat Rice. Two touchdowns should do it nicely.
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