Last year’s 9-4 record marked the most successful season in the Hugh Freeze era at Ole Miss. It concluded with a trip to the Peach Bowl — one of the heralded New Year’s Six games — against TCU.

Those bowl games are a chance for teams to enjoy a prime-time national spotlight and bring tons of pride to their respective programs. Unfortunately for the Rebels, last year’s bowl game is one that they’d like to forget.

An ugly 42-3 loss to the Horned Frogs left Ole Miss with a bad taste in its mouth after what was for the most part a very successful season. But Freeze’s team is still loaded with enough talent to get a chance at redemption this season.

Talent is just one factor. There are many others that will also determine if the Rebels will play in a New Year’s Six bowl game once again.


This case isn’t too hard to make. The Rebels return most starters and key contributors from last year’s team that was ranked No. 2 at one point and played in a major bowl game.

With all those returning players having another year to play together, the chemistry and experience on the Ole Miss team should be through the roof. Plus, after how last season ended, Freeze and his players should be playing with something to prove this year.

Here are some other reasons why the Rebels can match or maybe even exceed their success from 2014:

  • Continuity and depth on the offensive line could bring the Ole Miss offense to new heights. All five starters return from last year but sophomore Rod Taylor and freshman Javon Patterson are former top recruits that also figure to be key factors and perhaps even starters this season.
  • There are just too many wide receivers to stop in Oxford. The only secondary in the nation that might have a chance at stoping this receiving corps is Ole Miss and that’s only because the Landshark defensive backs get to practice against those receivers every day.
  • The defense that finished 13th in the nation last year might be even nastier this season. The 11 starters can all ball but there are plenty of reserves who can come in and be effective as well. The Rebels will be coming at opposing offenses in waves this year — big, scary waves.
  • The early-season game in Tuscaloosa could (and will) be a case against the Rebels here. But on the flip side, an upset victory by Ole Miss on the road could be the catalyst for a national championship-caliber season.


Even though Ole Miss has the type of team that can make it to a New Year’s Six game, the Rebels still have to get it done on the field while competing in the toughest division in college football.

Last year, the Rebels went 3-3 against the SEC West and if they want to be back in a big time bowl game they will have to do at least that well again. But that’s much easier said than done and last year Ole Miss at least had a proven leader running the show in quarterback Bo Wallace.

Here are some other reasons why the Rebels will have a hard time repeating their success from 2014:

  • Let’s start with that early-season meeting with Alabama and then also talk about the other grueling SEC West games that await the Rebels this season. The SEC inhibits any guarantees. Ole Miss still must play Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State in a six-week span to close out the season. Ole Miss might be talented and deep but close losses to good teams are still losses, and enough of them will keep you out of a major bowl.
  • Losing a three-year starter at quarterback usually leads to a team regressing. Bo Wallace was more than just the quarterback for the Rebels, though. He clearly brought a passion to the field and losing that can have an adverse effect on a squad.
  • Replacing All-American defensive backs Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt won’t be as challenging due to the talent Ole Miss still has in the secondary. But Golson and Prewitt provided leadership on the defensive side of the ball. Now that their reserves are starters the back end of the defense isn’t nearly as deep.
  • Health could end up being the biggest factor that prevents the Rebels from being SEC West contenders once again. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell are coming off serious leg injuries and are said to be looking healthy. But it remains to be seen whether they’re the same players. Taylor is also battling a shoulder injury right now and it’s not clear much longer he’ll be sidelined. So this team’s depth, especially on the offensive line, will be tested.


The odds are in the Rebels’ favor. Even if they were to drop tough road games against Alabama and Auburn, a 10-2 season would still very much be in play.

The Rebels defense is so talented and deep it is nearly a lock to finish in the top 10 in the country. This strength will keep Ole Miss in every game regardless of offensive output.

Some believe Chad Kelly will win the starting quarterback job and won’t be much of a drop-off from Wallace. Kelly is athletic with a strong arm and will have plenty of weapons around him to get the ball to. If the Ole Miss offense gets on a roll and begins to put up some serious points each week, this season could be special for the Rebels.