Ole Miss: “Biggest Game in My Lifetime”

According to CBS’ Dennis Dodd, that’s how Ole Miss fans are approaching today’s game against Alabama:

“One of our biggest donors stuck his head in,” Freeze recalled, “[Saying], ‘Biggest game in my lifetime.'”

Here’s a little more of the Ole Miss perspective:

They can talk all they want in this state about Archie and Eli and John Vaught and StarkVegas and Egg Bowls past. This is, arguably, the most significant week in this state’s glorious football history.

“I think it’s probably the biggest,” said Rick Cleveland, 49 years a sportswriter in the state, now executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

They say Eli Manning’s last home game here against LSU in 2003 was a big deal. The Rebels and Bulldogs haven’t been ranked at the same time in 15 years. They haven’t been ranked together this high since 1958. The legendary Vaught had a fine run at Ole Miss from 1947-70. The schools battled for the SEC title in 1941.

For Alabama, it’s, uh…not.

As a Tide fan, I can definitely lose perspective about these sort of games since Alabama regularly plays in high-profile, high-stakes-type match-ups.  Bama has won championships and competed for national titles in every decade of my life.  For a guy that’s on the back side of 40, that’s saying something.  And from that perspective, it’s hard to really fathom what Mississippi fans must be feeling.  We may have gone through rough patches, but there was usually some sort of bright, shining light somewhere in the middle of the rough patch, even if it lasted only briefly.

For Ole Miss, that hasn’t been the case since since the early 1960s.  Yeah, well, except for the brief periods Mannings have been on campus and even then no championships were won.

As far as the game goes, I am a bit concerned.  Ole Miss has a good team and they are plenty capable of pulling off an upset.  When Alabama loses, the common denominator is often a quarterback that plays out of his mind for four complete quarters.  It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that this could happen to Bo Wallace.  The Rebel Black Bear defense is also sort of salty and I am a bit concerned about Blake Sims’ shoulder.  If he’s off, even just a tad, that could spell trouble for us.

Ole Miss will play with a ton of emotion to start the game, but we’ve seen that before.  Ultimately, for Alabama, it won’t be about the other team.  The game will come down to how Alabama plays.

 

 

 

Week 6 Picks

Heading into week six with a 40-8 record…

1) Tennessee 24, Florida 14 – The free continues for the Gators.

2) Georgia 37, Vandy 14 – Todd Gurley rushes for as many as Mark Richt will let him have in this one.

3) South Carolina 28, Kentucky 10 – Let’s see how the Gamecocks rebound from last week’s stunning loss.

4) Alabama 32, Ole Miss 21 – If Blake Sims is really healthy, the Tide rolls.

5) Auburn 31, LSU 20 – Auburn’s offense starts to get their mojo back in this one.

6) Texas A&M 33, Mississippi State 24 – Too much offense from the Aggies in this one.

 

Tuesday Numbers…Here They Are

Well, they are finally here – a day late mind you, but finally here.  Tuesday numbers.

Today we’ll look at one category.  Passing leaders in the Southeastern Conference, sorted by Quarterback Rating.  Please refer to the chart below and see the comments that follow.From Skitch1) Note that the first six top-rated quarterbacks are from the SEC West.  Let that sink in for a moment.  

2) Again, the conference’s top six quarterbacks, based on QB rating are in the West.  In my humble internet opinion, that explains a lot.

3) The other QB from the West, LSU’s Anthony Jennings, is ranked 11th.  And guess what?  He won’t be starting this week against Auburn.  True freshman Brandon Harris gets the nod for the Bayou Bengals.

4) It may not be surprising to most, especially after the Florida game, but the Tide’s Blake Sims is still the top ranked passer in the league.

5) Of the top six, I’d be somewhat concerned about teams with QBs completing less than 60% of their throws.  That mark typically, at least in my internet mind, begins to separate the top level teams from the rest.  So, look out, Auburn, Arkansas and Mississippi State.  Your quarterback’s arm could spell the difference for your team.

6) The final thing to note, are the interceptions of Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace.  His numbers do not look horrible, at all, and he’s obviously rated as one of the top passers after playing four games.  But his interceptions do stand out like a sore thumb and show that he’s playing in a similar way to his last two years for the Rebel Black Bears.  For Wallace to truly be elite – and to beat teams like Alabama, he’s got to stop the intermittent barrage of turnovers.

 

Power Poll – Week 6

1) Auburn Tigers (Overall 4-0, Conference 1-0) [Last week 1] – I make no bones about it.  I am keeping Auburn here, as the defending conference champions, until they get beat.  The schedule toughens from here on out, so we can hope they move down soon.

2) Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0) [3] – The Tide is playing as well as any team and the league and if I had any sense, I’d have them no. 1 here.

3) Texas A&M Aggies (5-0, 2-0) [2] – The Aggies weren’t nearly as impressive in their win over Arkansas as they were against South Carolina.  Is that because the Hogs are improved or perhaps we jumped on the A&M band wagon a little too early?

4) Missouri Tigers (4-1, 1-0) [8] – This season has already had it’s share of ups and downs for the Tigers, but right now, they are in the driver’s seat in the East.  If they can get by Georgia on the road in two weeks, they will go a long way towards locking up a second straight division title.

5) Ole Miss Rebels (4-0, 1-0) [4] – The Black Bears looked a little sluggish against Memphis, but that’s too be expected with Alabama coming to town this week.  The Rebs have the top-ranked defense in the league and need a great game from Bo Wallace to move up next week.

6) Georgia Bulldogs (3-1, 2-1) [6] – Todd Gurley is carrying this team on his back.  The Dawgs better hope that back don’t get tired.  Otherwise, this is a very average football team.

7) Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0) [7] – The Dogs celebrated their win over LSU with a well-placed bye week.  Things are about to get exciting in Starkville as MSU hosts Texas A&M and Auburn over the next two weeks.

8) LSU Tigers (4-1, 0-1) [9] – The Tigers’ season is on the line this Saturday at Auburn.  Lose and the Tigers are done in the West race.  Win and they’re right back in the middle of things.

9) Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2) [10] – The Hogs look much-improved, but they just can’t quite get over the hump.  They’ll take a week off and then try again against Alabama.

10) South Carolina Gamecocks (3-2, 2-2) [5] – The ‘Cocks dropped a game late to Mizzzou and guess what?  They are now toast in the East.

11) Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) [11] – Like Arkansas, you can tell this team is improved.  Unlike Arkansas, I don’t think there’s as much improvement.

12) Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1) [12] – Will Muschamp’s boss says he gets to wait until the end of the season before he gets canned.  Well, if the Gators get stomped in Knoxville, they may re-think that logic.

13) Kentucky Wildcats (3-1, 1-1) [13] – Kentucky is as least competitive this year.  The ‘Cats will visit Columbia this week and try to surprise the Gamecocks.

14) Vanderbilt Commodores (1-4, 0-3) [14] – This is a very bad football team.

First Thoughts on Ole Miss

The Ole Miss Rebel Black Bears are feeling pretty good right now heading into this week’s game against Alabama.  I guess they should.  After all, they are unbeaten through four games and are ranked No. 11 in the latest Associated Press poll.

They also have a pretty good defense.

But in 2014, these Black Bears will only go as far as their quarterback, Bo Wallace can take them.  Here’s what Dr. Bo has done so far this year:

BoWallaceThrough4Games2014So far, at least statistically, Wallace hasn’t had a bad year.  In fact, before last week’s game against Ole Miss (and through the bye week that proceeded it), folks were downright gushy about the RBB signal caller.  As the line went, Wallace had been on first since the second half of the Boise State game.

But I think the story goes deeper than just these numbers.  Let’s face it, if you look inside the big red sort of circle, you’ll see that Ole Miss’ competition this year ain’t all that grand.  You’ll also see that Wallace likes to turn the ball over, and those tend to come in bunches.  That’s something about Wallace’s play that isn’t new for 2014.

Of course, I also buy the line of thinking that Ole Miss, and Wallace, were probably looking ahead to Bama.  It’s hard to keep your focus on a team like Memphis when the big boys are rolling into your town the next week.

Most of us Bama fans look at the Black Bears and Wallace and aren’t all that concerned.  After all, this is a team that hasn’t beaten us since 2003.  But I look at this game as trouble.  The RBBs have a salty defense, they are playing at home, they have some momentum that comes from being 4-0, and, they do have a quarterback that is capable of getting hot and pulling a Stephen Garcia.

Week 5 Review

9272014 ScoreboardA 6-1 week brings the total to 40-8…

1) Georgia 35, Tennessee 32 [Prediction: Georgia 27, Tennessee 24] – UT allowed a career game from Todd Gurley and shot itself in the foot late.

2) Kentucky 17, Vanderbilt 7 [Kentucky 31, Vanderbilt 28] – This must have been a fun game to watch.

3) Missouri 21, South Carolina 20 [South Carolina 35, Missouri 31] – The Gamecocks are dead in the East and we have a new favorite atop the leader board.

4) Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 [Texas A&M 42, Arkansas 24] – The Aggies score two touchdowns late to set up overtime and then pull out the win.

5) Auburn 45, Louisiana Tech 17 [Auburn 45, Louisiana Tech 24] – This game also sound brutal to watch, right?

6) LSU 63, New Mexico State 7 [LSU 48, New Mexico State 6] – What better way to rebound from a loss to Mississippi State than to play an out of conference patsy.

7) Ole Miss 24, Memphis 3 [Ole Miss 37, Memphis 17] – Perhaps the Rebel Black Bears were looking ahead to Bama.

 

A Few Week 5 Thoughts

Week five brings an off week for the Tide, but there are a few other games of note today.

Tennessee travels to Georgia in a game that, on paper, doesn’t appear to be close.  The Vols are weak along the line of scrimmage and I doubt they’ll be able to contain Todd Gurley; no one else really has.  The Vols aren’t into moral victories, I’m sure, but they’ll be looking for more progress, a few baby steps forward in Butch Jones’ second year.

Missouri travels to South Carolina in a key SEC East battle.  The Tigers stubbed their toe against Indiana last week, so look for them to play better against the Gamecocks. If they Tigers win, they take a big step forward in the East race.  They’ll own a key tie-breaker against the ‘Cocks, plus, they’ll stay ahead in the loss column.  A win for Carolina means another key tie-breaker in the bag, much like they have against Georgia.

Kentucky hosts Vanderbilt this week as these two teams race for the bottom of the league.  Wins are tough to come by for these two programs, so the winner needs to savor the moment.

Arkansas will meet Texas A&M at the Jerry Dome in the best game of the day for the SEC.  The Aggies have been very impressive this year, but really haven’t played anyone since their week one beat down of South Carolina.  The Hogs are a beefed-up smash-mouth team on the way up.  My guess is they aren’t far enough along in the rebuilding process to knock out the Aggies.  But if the Hog defense can get a few stops and let their offense grind on the A&M defense, you never know.