Even at three losses, Ole Miss deserved New Year's Six bowl with strong resume
During the BCS era, a three-loss team would never have gotten a BCS bowl bid.
In the first season of the College Football Playoff system, however, three-loss Ole Miss (9-3, 5-3 SEC) finds itself in a College Football Playoff Access (formerly BCS bowl, also known as New Year’s Six) bowl.
The ninth-ranked Rebels square off against No. 6 TCU (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.
Ole Miss doesn’t find itself in a New Year’s Six bowl because there weren’t enough bowl eligible teams, or some other fluky reason that sent it to Atlanta. Hugh Freeze’s team deserves to be there.
The Rebels played four top-15 teams in 2014, and went 3-1 against those opponents. And if a play or two goes its way, Ole Miss is 4-0 in those games and a 10-win team for the first time since 2003.
Freeze’s club still has a shot at 10-wins, despite the last second loss to Auburn on Nov. 1.
Ole Miss accomplished what it accomplished behind the nation’s top scoring defense, and an explosive passing game that suffered a setback with the loss of star receiver Laquon Treadwell in the aforementioned loss to Auburn.
The Rebels’ 7-0 start — the best start in school history — captured the attention of the nation, highlighted by ESPN’s College GameDay’s first trip to Oxford and a win over then-No. 3 Alabama to solidify their position as one of the best teams in college football.
Perhaps what cemented Ole Miss’ trip to Atlanta, though, was the 31-17 drubbing of Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on the final weekend of the season. The Rebels dominated its in-state rival from the start, effectively ending the then-No. 4 Bulldogs’ chances at a top-four in the Playoff.
Freeze and company have a chance to cushion its resume with a win over a TCU team some pundits believe is one of the four best teams in the country. It won’t come without its challenges, however.
Trevone Boykin leads the Horned Frogs prolific offense ranked second in the FBS in scoring offense and seventh nationally in passing. TCU’s defense leads the Big 12 in interceptions, a stat that scares the Ole Miss faithful with gun-slinger Bo Wallace under center.
A win on New Year’s Eve would likely secure a top-five finish for Ole Miss and a preseason top-5 ranking, along with a heaping of momentum as the Rebels look to 2015.
For those chalking up a win for the Horned Frogs, hold off. Look at Ole Miss’ 2014 resume or watch a few hours of tape, and you’ll see.
This team deserves to be there.