#SECPreviews- West: #2 Ole Miss Rebels
Do you know how hard it is to say to yourself, “yeah, I could be right, but let’s play it safe so I don’t look like an idiot”?
I do it on a daily basis, and it applies here. I wanted to pick Ole Miss to win the SEC West. Reasons being:
– The nation’s best defense;
– Everyone ELSE is losing their QB too, Ole Miss is the only one losing someone guaranteed to lose them games (RIP, Dr. Bo);
– Nobody else I’ve seen has had the balls to do it.
Alas, I also lacked the cojones. Coming in at #2 in the West, Ole Miss.
What Happened Last Year?
In the Fall of the Mississippis, Ole Miss joined Mississippi State in enjoying an epic ascendance to the top of the polls followed by a precipitous and somewhat disastrous drop.
On the strength of a 7-0 start including wins over Boise, Alabama, and at Texas A&M, the Black Bears rose to #3 in the polls at a time where that was good enough to put four SEC West teams in the top 10. Then the injuries came. Consecutive heartbreaking losses against LSU and Auburn (as always with stupid Auburn magic, not GIF-fing the way Ole Miss lost that one) followed. An inexplicable shutout loss at Arkansas came two weeks later.
After beating Mississippi State, well…their second trip to Atlanta didn’t work out so well.
42-3 losses sting. Much more coming off your program’s breakout year. Even moreso in a bowl game. But the worst is knowing that the final score should’ve been even worse. One doesn’t come out -300 yards that relatively unscathed that often.
Three Key Games
Hell, after the TCU game, they’re all key. But…
Oct. 3 at Florida: Let’s assume that vengeful Saban gets a home win on Sept. 19, and that Ole Miss recovers to beat Vandy the following week. After that, all of the games are…pretty winnable! Don’t be the team Florida gets to point to as a turnaround point, Ole Miss.
Oct. 31 at Auburn: So, pretty tough road slate, huh? This is kindof the anti-Texas A&M. Ole Miss’ top opponents are road tilts when you consider the fact that the Egg Bowl visitor (which Ole Miss is) is 2-14 the last 16 years.
Nov. 21 LSU: The disclaimer up top preassumes that I think a West title is still in play at this point. As such…
Five Players to Watch
ROV Tony Conner: One of my favorite players to watch in the SEC, Conner can drop into coverage as a true safety or lay the wood in run support. At 6’0 220, he’s not QUITE your prototypical box safety size, but he’s close and it doesn’t matter.
DE Marquis Haynes: The sophomore won’t get the hype of the Nkemdiche brothers, but led the team in sacks as a true freshman with 7.5.
LT Laremy Tunsil: World’s greatest domestic abuser and one of the four guys from that inexplicable recruiting class of 2012 that merits ‘could be a marquee player anywhere’ consideration, Tunsil is the rare O-lineman whose name we know better than the QB’s. Unless the QB’s name is…
QB Chad Kelly: Oh, shit.
I don’t know if this represents progress from Dr. Bo.
TE Evan Engram: The best TE in the SEC, assuming Lane Kiffin continues to forget about O.J. Howard.