ESPN labels SEC West program as SEC's 2016 Playoff 'sleeper'
Will Ole Miss rise up in the SEC West in 2016?
That would be somewhat of a surprise, considering most think Alabama and LSU will fight for supremacy in college football’s top division. No doubt, however, the Rebels are full of SEC talent, both on offense and defense.
ESPN labeled the Rebels as the SEC’s biggest College Football Playoff “sleeper” for the 2016 season. After losing Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil, the Rebels could be considered somewhat of a sleeper, but the return of Chad Kelly certainly increases interest.
Veteran quarterbacks aren’t plentiful by any means, especially in the SEC, and to have one like Ole Miss, teams always have a chance. In the past, if teams had good defenses, it always gave them a chance to win. But the SEC is paralleling the NFL in that it’s becoming more of a quarterback league. Sure, running backs — Leonard Fournette, Nick Chubb, etc. — will still dominate headlines, but quarterback is the most important position on the field. That’s where Kelly should give Ole Miss an edge in several contests, and he has several weapons at his disposal.
Here’s what ESPN’s Alex Scarborough said about the Rebels and why they are the conference’s biggest sleeper:
“No Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell or Robert Nkemdiche … no problem? Not when you start the season in Orlando against Florida State and face both Alabama and Georgia in the month of September. But if the Rebs can get through a difficult early stretch, they could easily find themselves well inside the top 10 with legitimate championship aspirations. Why? Simply put, they have the most talented quarterback in the league in Chad Kelly, who threw for more than 4,000 yards last season. Although some of the stars of years past are gone, the overall health of the roster has never been better, with a veteran secondary, deep defensive line and plenty of weapons on offense, thanks to the returns of tight end Evan Engram and wideouts Quincy Adeboyejo and Damore’ea Stringfellow.”
The sleepers from the other conferences were Louisville (ACC), TCU (Big 12), Michigan State (Big Ten) and Utah (Pac-12).
Meanwhile, ESPN also listed the LSU Tigers as its most overrated College Football Playoff contender.