Rebels will have to defy odds for fifth straight bowl
Ole Miss is first in the SEC and 15th in the country in passing yards per game with 316.4. The Rebels are also 4-5 with three games to go.
The first of the three is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Texas A&M. Ole Miss has won back-to-back meetings against the Aggies.
That win streak is the farthest thing from the Rebels’ minds right now, because a season already taking a downward turn could take an even sharper dive over the next three weeks following the news that quarterback Chad Kelly’s season is done. The injury news doesn’t stop there.
“(Van) Jefferson has a hip-pointer, no fracture or anything, but those are tender, and won’t know until we see how he progresses through the week,” Freeze said. “Robert (Conyers) is going to be what he is. He has suffered through a lot of injuries and really probably doesn’t need to play a lot, will travel with us and he has a heart for us. He will go in if he has to, if he needs to. (Sean) Rawlings and Rod (Taylor), we just have to see how the week progresses. They are definitely not well.”
That’s a receiver and a list of injured offensive linemen, capped by a statement that pretty much sums up the season for the Rebels.
From hopes of 15-0, at least maybe a 10-2 regular season, to hanging hopes of a bowl game, those hopes keep taking hits.
Injuries have piled and made a brutal SEC road nearly impossible to navigate. Once thought a lock to win at Vanderbilt and the following week against Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, those are not only not locks anymore, but there’s a good argument they are likely losses.
“We’ve had successes here in a short amount of time, the way we turned this program around faster than I thought, and the expectations got raised, which is a good thing, but in this league it sure can happen in a hurry where it flips on you,” Freeze said. “We have three opportunities left, and those are the ones for these kids and our seniors that this focus should be upon.”
It has done more than flip on Ole Miss. After four straight bowl games, including a Peach and Sugar Bowl the last two seasons, the hill to climb to get up the road to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl is now slippery.
Texas A&M is mad after Mississippi State knocked it out of the Playoff. Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight will not be available, but the Aggies will still have a viable offense against an Ole Miss defense ranked next to last in the SEC.
The next week, a win over Vanderbilt and an offense that ranks last in the league is feasible, but say Ole Miss wins, it then visits a Mississippi State team quickly finding its groove with Nick Fitzgerald. The Bulldogs’ newfound rushing success has to be chomping at the bit for Ole Miss’ dead-last rushing defense.
Ole Miss has done the unexpected to go 4-5. The Rebels will have to do more of the unexpected to make a fifth straight bowl game.