How do we make sense of Ole Miss' unpredictable season?
Every season has its ups and downs. Not every season has a rollercoaster ride.
What do we take from the Rebels’ 2015 season so far? Nothing has happened like it was supposed to happen.
Not many people expected Ole Miss to win at Alabama, where it was 1-25 all-time. Plus, beating the Tide in back-to-back seasons had never been accomplished before. Yet, the Rebels dealt Bama its only loss of the season.
So surely, the Rebels would wreck the Gators two weeks later in The Swamp? Nope. It was Florida that dominated 38-10 in its most impressive win to date.
Ole Miss was once again on the road a couple weeks later, and unbeaten Memphis was a popular pick to pull the upset. Still, the Rebs were ranked No. 13 in the AP Poll and hailed from the mighty SEC, while the AAC’s Tigers hadn’t enjoyed a big win in nearly 20 years.
Early on, Hugh Freeze’s squad looked like it might get back on track, taking a quick 14-0 lead a little over five minutes into the contest. Then, the Tigers shockingly reeled off 31 unanswered points on the way to a 37-24 win.
The wheels were supposed to start falling off at that point, and a third loss in four games was a possibility against Texas A&M. Instead, what was expected to be a close game turned out to be a 23-3 rout for the Rebels.
Against Arkansas, Ole Miss was favored at home against a team that had won two straight, but those victories came against Auburn (in four overtimes) and Tennessee-Martin. The Rebels were taken to OT, but they had the outcome seemingly in hand with Arkansas facing a fourth-and-25. The Hogs would convert it after a desperation lateral, then rolled the dice on a 2-point conversion to win.
Beating LSU last week wasn’t a stretch in anyone’s eyes, but the Tigers had never lost three straight under Les Miles. Even so, many people wouldn’t have bet on Ole Miss going up 24-0 before halftime. That’s exactly what happened during a 38-17 win.
The Rebels’ season has been filled with inconsistent play from quarterback Chad Kelly. The junior has thrived in some games, combining for 14 total touchdowns and no interceptions against Alabama, Arkansas and LSU. However, he’s also faded in others, totaling 6 TDs and 7 INTs against Auburn, Memphis and Texas A&M.
Meanwhile, the Land Shark defense has failed to surface in key situations. In their eight wins, the Rebels’ opponents have only converted 33.1 percent of third downs (48 of 145). In their three losses, they’ve converted 55.1 percent of them (27 of 49).
Amazingly, the Rebels’ rocky road may still see them reach Atlanta. “All” the Rebels need is for the SEC West cellar dweller, Auburn, to win the Iron Bowl against what looks like the best team in the country on Saturday afternoon. Then, Ole Miss has to take care of business in the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State later in the evening.
If the Rebels’ unpredictable season has shown us anything, it’s that anything can happen.