Outside of the teams with new coaches, Ole Miss is perhaps the most intriguing SEC team for me this year, at least from the standpoint of someone trying to make predictions. On one hand, coaches often have a great deal of success in their second season. On the other hand, Hugh Freeze had far more success at Ole Miss last year than he could be reasonably expected to have. So can he really take this team to new heights this year?
And let's not forget that 2012 did not exactly look like the most promising season for the first month or so of the season. The Rebels struggled to beat Central Arkansas for most of their season opener. They got clocked by Texas and beaten by Alabama by 19 points. It wasn't until the three-touchdown margin of victory against Auburn that it began to look like Ole Miss might have something going on -- and even that was against Auburn.
It's also worth noting that the Auburn, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State all had to travel to Oxford last year, and will instead host Ole Miss this year. If there is one reason to believe that the Rebels might fail to live up to last year's breakout campaign, that's it. In a way, the schedule rotation does no favors for Ole Miss this year, because the likelihood they would take down one of the Big Three in the SEC West is still relatively slim.
But then there's Hugh Freeze's high-octane offense, and, boy, it looked good at the end of the year. Sure, not all of those games were against defensive heavyweights, but both LSU and Vanderbilt were in the top half of the SEC in total defense and struggled to win their matchups with the Rebels, and Pittsburgh was no slouch on defense. This wasn't a case of the schedule manufacturing momentum.
So combine the better team with the tougher schedule, and you get something that comes out about the same as 2012. There's a potential upside to this team that can't be precisely accounted for, but it's also not the kind of turnaround you can bank on. And there's also the potential for an ever-so-slight decline.
Place: 4th in the SEC West
Record: 7-5, 4-4 SEC
Could be: 5-7 to 8-4
Best chance for an upset: at TEXAS
Bowl: MUSIC CITY
8.29.13 | at VANDERBILT | POSSIBLE LOSS
9.7.13 | SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE | WIN
9.14.13 | at TEXAS | PROBABLE LOSS
9.28.13 | at ALABAMA | LIKELY LOSS
10.5.13 | at AUBURN | POSSIBLE WIN
10.12.13 | TEXAS A&M | PROBABLE LOSS
10.19.13 | LSU | PROBABLE LOSS
10.26.13 | IDAHO | WIN
11.9.13 | ARKANSAS | POSSIBLE WIN
11.16.13 | TROY | LIKELY WIN
11.23.13 | MISSOURI | POSSIBLE WIN
11.28.13 | at MISSISSIPPI STATE | POSSIBLE WIN
Key (from least likely to win to most): Loss, Likely Loss, Probable Loss, Possible Loss, Possible Win, Probable Win, Likely Win, Win