Published October 4, 2012 - 3:05pm
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The Rebels are pushing for bowl eligibility in Hugh Freeze’s first season at the head of a very battered and beaten down program, and they certainly had a positive showing last Saturday against Alabama. Ole Miss found hope in the 33-14 loss.
It was a moral victory. (I hate moral victories.)
However, Hugh Freeze just might know what he’s doing in Oxford, as evidenced by the product he’s putting on the field. Houston Dale Nutt went 2-10 with virtually the same roster, and Freeze’s quirky, high-paced offense surpassed that mark in three games. Sitting 3-2, Ole Miss really will push for bowl eligibility in his first season. And Mississippi State fans don’t want to hear any of it, either.
The Rebels play with an edge, and they played with a physical presence Saturday night. (Bama players were rumored to be lined up in the ice bath line Sunday morning). Even Nick Saban allowed that his team was physically being punished during his halftime interview. There’s some positives to take away from the Bama game.
However, Freeze isn’t interested in moral victories, and he made that known after Saturday night.
“I’m pleased with the effort and attitude of our kids and how hungry they are to succeed,” Freeze said. “I’m disappointed because I feel like we should have been in it the fourth quarter and for whatever reason — we can go through all of them — we didn’t get there. The next step in this journey is to get there. Get in that fourth quarter. I don’t know if we’ll win it or not but sure would feel good to play as hard as they’re playing and get in one.”
Freeze wants to finish ball games, and I admire him for his ‘want to’. And that’s really the next step for a young team to grow up. It wasn’t that Ole Miss kept it close in the fourth quarter with a chance to win. Rather, it gives Rebels fans hope for the future in believing in their leader.
If you take a look at the remaining schedule, bowl eligibility is certainly not out of the question and within reach, especially with the way the Rebels are running the football and playing defense recently.
Oct. 6, Texas A&M
Oct. 13, Auburn
Oct. 20, Bye
Oct. 27, at Arkansas
Nov. 3, at Georgia
Nov. 10, Vanderbilt
Nov. 17, at LSU
Nov. 24, Mississippi State
The Rebels are reaching a critical point in their schedule in the next two weeks. Texas A&M comes to Oxford, as does Auburn. That’s two games the Rebels have a chance to notch victories, further increasing the likelihood of six wins. A more logical thought would be to go 1-1. But the Aggies are the biggest unknown in the SEC right now with an explosive offense, and Auburn could turn their offense around at any time.
All of the sudden, with Arkansas hitting bottom, Vanderbilt struggling as usual, the Egg Bowl could set up to be the game that decides bowl fate for the Rebels.
Wouldn’t that be a sweet rivalry with something on the line for each team?