Can Ole Miss win a conference game this year? Because that's the tangible sign of progress that I think Hugh Freeze can deliver. And I think they can win a conference game, I almost think they should win a conference game -- but I'm having a hard time thinking of which one it will be.
Go ahead and take the trips to Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge off the board. Barring thermonuclear attack, it's unlikely that either Alabama or LSU will be in bad enough disrepair to lose to Ole Miss at home. (This is not just a dig at Ole Miss; the only reason I'm sure one of them will lose a game at home this year is that they play each other.) Trips to Arkansas and Georgia, while less imposing than games against both half of last year's national championship game, also don't look promising.
Mississippi State? It's possible, and the Rebels' flat performance in that game last year might have been the team giving up after a long and deflating season. Vanderbilt? Anyone who watches the site knows I'm high on what James Franklin is doing in Vanderbilt. Sure, it's possible, but I just don't see it happening this year. Auburn? Meh. I don't know what to think of the Tigers, but I do know I've made the mistake of underestimating them for several years running, and I'm trying to get off that train.
And that's why I'm locking onto Texas A&M as the best opportunity for Freeze to break through and get a conference victory in his inaugural season. The Aggies will be coming off a game against Arkansas in College Station and headed into their first SEC game on the road. On the other side of the matchup with Ole Miss is a game against LSU. This game has trap written all over it, and the Rebels might be able to pull the upset.
Might. But the chances just aren't good enough for me to bank on them. To be sure, I like Freeze and think he's going to win plenty of SEC games in time. Now just isn't that time.
Place: 7th in the SEC West
Record: 3-9, 0-8 SEC
Could be: 2-10 to 6-6
Best chance for an upset: vs TEXAS A&M
9.1.12 | CENTRAL ARKANSAS | WIN
9.8.12 | UTEP | LIKELY WIN
9.15.12 | TEXAS | LIKELY LOSS
9.22.12 | at TULANE | LIKELY WIN
9.29.12 | at ALABAMA | LOSS
10.6.12 | TEXAS A&M | POSSIBLE LOSS
10.13.2 | AUBURN | POSSIBLE LOSS
10.27.12 | at ARKANSAS | PROBABLE LOSS
11.3.12 | at GEORGIA | PROBABLE LOSS
11.10.12 | VANDERBILT | POSSIBLE LOSS
11.17.12 | at LSU | LOSS
11.24.12 | MISSISSIPPI STATE | POSSIBLE LOSS
Key (from least likely to win to most): Loss, Likely Loss, Probably Loss, Possible Loss, Possible Win, Probable Win, Likely Win, Win