Best Case Ole Miss: Rebels stay ranked, contend for SEC West title
What’s not to love about supreme optimism?
It’s the best time of the year for college football fans, especially those favoring the SEC. Dreams of a national championship aren’t yet crushed and homers abound can all take a stab at guessing wins and losses on their respective team’s schedule.
‘Best Case Scenario’ Series
- TEXAS A&M
- SOUTH CAROLINA
- TODAY: Ole Miss
- Tuesday: Vanderbilt
- Wednesday: Mississippi St.
- Thursday: Tennessee
OLE MISS REBELS
2013 record: 8-5, 3-5
2014 best case: 11-2, 6-2
Closer look: In a best-case sense, SEC losses to Auburn and Alabama will keep the Rebels from reaching Atlanta this season, but a 10-win regular season followed by a bowl victory would be quite a feat for obvious league coach of the year Hugh Freeze in the nation’s toughest division. Tip-toeing through the rest of the challenging schedule will be easier said than done for a program not yet accustomed to preseason hype and handling expectations against the less-talented. No matter what it takes, the Rebels must find a way to, at worst, split four West contests against Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi St. if they want to hit double-digit victories. There’s no margin for error in the ‘swing’ games either. Tennessee and Arkansas are must wins.
Silver lining: The schedule’s somewhat favorable with only one projected road game against a higher ranked team (LSU), but welcoming two Top 5s to Oxford in the same season represents the harsh reality of life in the SEC. Moving through the non-conference contests is essential, starting with an impressive showing in the prime-time opener against Boise St. Ole Miss is 9-1 under Freeze against non-SEC competition, the only loss coming to Texas in 2012. A loss to the Broncos inside the Georgia Dome would prematurely halt what could be a special season. Coming in, the Rebels are loaded on defense and have the SEC’s most experienced quarterback under center. That’s usually a recipe for success.