Best-case, worst-case scenarios for Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace in senior season
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has a lot riding on the 2014 season.
It’s his final season as a collegiate, and his Rebels will begin the season ranked in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25 (No. 18) for the first time in his career. He faces lofty personal expectations as the SEC’s most veteran quarterback, earning second team preseason All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches, and is surrounded by perhaps the most talented collection of weapons he’s had at Ole Miss.
If Wallace has a career year, it could elevate Ole Miss to the top of the SEC West and even into the discussion for the College Football Playoff field. If he flops, however, it could mean doom for head coach Hugh Freeze and his Rebels.
Wallace displays the poise and savvy of a veteran quarterback, limiting his turnovers dramatically in comparison to the rest of the conference’s quarterbacks. He throws more than 20 touchdowns and less than seven interceptions for the season while commanding an offense loaded with talent.
He and Laquon Treadwell establish themselves as the most dangerous quarterback-receiver combination in the conference, with Treadwell catching at least 80 passes while breaking the 1,000-yard and 10-touchdown plateaus. Tight end Evan Engram takes his game to the next level as well, catching at least 40 passes as a reliable option for Wallace to find over the middle.
Wallace redeems himself after fumbling away last year’s Egg Bowl, throwing for 400-plus yards and multiple touchdowns against Mississippi State on his Senior Night in Oxford. He helps the Rebels repeat as the SEC’s fastest-paced offense and Ole Miss wins at least 10 regular season games as a result.
Wallace cannot live up to the preseason hype, and allows it to affect him all season. He commits at least three turnovers in the season opener against Boise State on national television, and his season begins to take a downward spiral.
He throws double-digit interceptions for the year and fails to reach the 15-touchdown plateau. Wallace and Treadwell seem out of sync week after week, failing to find the big-play connection most experts and fans anticipated. Wallace struggles on the road in SEC play, losing his composure in road games at Texas A&M, LSU and perhaps even at Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
He tries to do too much in this year’s Egg Bowl, forcing plays against a veteran Bulldogs defense on his way to a career-ending defeat at home on his Senior Night. The Rebels lose at least five games and are invited to a mediocre bowl that they eventually lose in an uninspired performance.
The likely scenario
Wallace limits his turnovers and lets his skill position stars carry the load on offense. The Rebels offense continues its up-tempo pace, but head coach Hugh Freeze uses a healthy mix of run and pass to keep defenses guessing.
Wallace commands the offense well and plays good situational football, but he and the Rebels fall victim to the grueling SEC West, struggling in matchups against Alabama, Auburn and at LSU. He leads Ole Miss to nine wins, including a victory in the Egg Bowl, and helps the Rebels earn a spot in the Associated Press rankings at the end of the regular season.
Ole Miss finishes third in the SEC West and misses the College Football Playoff, but is invited to a New Year’s Day bowl, which it wins in convincing fashion.