Is Ole Miss facing an overrated Florida State?
When Ole Miss and Florida State play some primetime Labor Day college football action, one of them will be limping into the season opener.
It will then be nine months after the fact, but the Seminoles aren’t exactly strutting into the 2016 season with the way 2015 ended, a 38-24 loss to Houston in the Peach Bowl.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, despite losing three first-round picks afterwards, is coming off a huge Sugar Bowl win and is facing one of the most anticipated seasons in school history.
Unlike most SEC teams, the Rebels have their quarterback in Heisman contender Chad Kelly. Florida State has its guy, too, but it hasn’t decided on him yet.
Even if redshirt senior Sean Maquire beats out redshirt freshman Deondre Francois, does the way Maquire ended the season and the questions Florida State has on offense warrant being No. 4 in the first Coaches Poll?
Ole Miss has its losses, Kelly saying farewell to the SEC’s No. 1 receiver in Laquon Treadwell as well as left tackle Laremy Tunsil. But ranked No. 12, the Rebels have a quarterback and thick crop of receivers.
Florida State has Maquire, who went 4-2 as a starter last season, coming off surgery from an ankle injury he suffered in a four-interception loss to Houston. Aside from that loss to a respectable 13-1 Cougars squad, the Seminoles were also taken down by a 3-9 Georgia Tech team. That victory over FSU was the only one that the Yellow Jackets enjoyed over their final 10 games.
The Seminoles arguably have more questions than the Rebels. Back Dalvin Cook rushed for 1,700 yards last season but had right shoulder surgery and missed a chunk of the spring, including the spring game. He has a history of shoulder problems and had a hamstring issue last season.
Both Ole Miss and Florida State have running back questions. Both return an okay level of experience on the offensive line, and both have a couple of receivers capable of going for 1,000 yards – Quincy Adeboyejo and Damore’ea Stringfellow for Ole Miss, Travis Rudolph and Kermit Whitfield for Florida State.
Both defensive fronts look the part on paper. Dueling defensive ends DeMarcus Walker (FSU) and Marquis Haynes (Ole Miss) are two of the top sack artists in their conferences and in the country. With Ole Miss transferring in linebackers Rommel Mageo from Oregon State and Detric Bing-Dukes from junior college, the Rebels look more capable there than the Seminoles.
Sure, the game will be played in Orlando, which will make Florida State players feel like they’re back home 250 miles north in Tallahassee. However, keep in mind Ole Miss is coming off a season in which it dealt defending national champion Alabama its only loss in Tuscaloosa dating back to 2012.
Maquire has all the tools to prove the Seminoles’ preseason ranking. Kelly will also be trying to prove a point – that Florida State is overrated and his Rebels are overlooked.