Ole Miss still has chance at winningest season in program history
It must feel like the sky is falling in Oxford, Mississippi this week after the Ole Miss Rebels endured the most heartbreaking two-week stretch in recent college football history.
The Rebels lost by three points in the final 10 seconds against LSU two weeks ago, and lost by mere inches on a goal line fumble by Laquon Treadwell in last week’s four-point loss to Auburn. To (literally) add injury to insult, Ole Miss also lost Treadwell for the year when he fumbled at the goal line, as an awkward tackle from behind resulted in a broken leg and a dislocated ankle, requiring surgery last Sunday night.
In a matter of just two weeks, the Rebels went from top 5 in the nation to fifth in their own division. They fell from playoff contender to outside the top 10 of Tuesday’s College Football Playoff Top 25. They lost their most dangerous weapon on offense in the midst of his best game of the season.
Not much more could have gone wrong for Ole Miss the last two weeks, but their season still has plenty of meaning.
If Ole Miss wins its final three regular season games and the bowl game that will follow, it’ll end the year with 11 wins. How many times has Ole Miss ever won 11 games in a season, you ask? Trick question — the program has never won 11 games in a season.
Heck, Ole Miss has only won 10 games in a season twice in the last 50 years (2003 and 1971). The Rebels have a real opportunity to post the winningest season in school history. That’s something to play for, right?
Ole Miss also has a golden opportunity to ruin arch-rival Mississippi State’s greatest season ever when the two meet in the Egg Bowl on Nov. 29. Mississippi State will enter that game with either an undefeated record or just one loss (likely to Alabama on Nov. 15).
If Mississippi State is undefeated, Ole Miss has a chance to ruin the Bulldogs’ perfect season. Even if MSU goes on to a 14-1 record and a national title, Ole Miss fans will never forget handing the Bulldogs their only loss of the season. They won’t let State fans forget it, either.
If Mississippi State already has one loss come Nov. 29, Ole Miss would have a chance to hand the Bulldogs a fatal second loss, eliminating them from playoff contention. After all, misery loves company, and if the Rebels can crush the Bulldogs title chances in an epic rivalry showdown to end the season, it could be as sweet as it gets short of a conference/national title.
Ole Miss fans need to accept that this season isn’t going to end with a championship. That’s tough to accept, considering this is one of the greatest Ole Miss teams ever, but that’s the college football world we live in.
However, championships are not the only thing that make seasons memorable. Most teams don’t win championships. But those title-less teams still find meaning in memorable wins and unforgettable moments that will live on in history books and on highlight reels for decades to come.
Ole Miss has made plenty of those moments this season, and it has plenty more still to make.
It hosted College GameDay for the first time in history, and did arguably a better job hosting than any other school in the show’s history. Later that day, the Rebels beat Alabama on an enormous national stage to announce their relevance to the rest of the nation outside the SEC.
They still have a chance to spoil Mississippi State’s magical season, living on for the rest of time as the ultimate thorn in MSU’s side. They still have a chance to win more games in a season than ever before in the program’s 121-year history. They still have a chance to establish the program among the nation’s elite, allowing this season to become the standard of the Rebels’ future, not the outlier.
It’s going to take Rebels fans a few weeks to get over the loss to Auburn and the Treadwell injury. I get that. Ole Miss fans are among the most passionate in America, so that type of reaction is to be expected. And with an upcoming game against cupcake opponent Presbyterian followed by an open date next week, those fans should have two weeks to recover.
But don’t think for one second that this Ole Miss season is lost. The Rebels still have more to play for than most teams in America, and that’s a blessing.