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What's Next for Ole Miss: Lots of Offense, But Not That Much Defense

Bo Wallace and his fellow offensive players are largely doing their part.
Bo Wallace and his fellow offensive players are largely doing their part.

A look at the road ahead for the SEC's most hapless teams

No one expected Hugh Freeze to start off with a bang at Ole Miss. There were the problems left over from the Houston Nutt years, and the turmoil that usually comes with a new staff, and the decidedly uneven reputation that Ole Miss has cultivated over the last few years. So it wasn't really a surprise for the Rebels to look like they might lose to Central Arkansas, as long as they came away with the win after the game.

What is a bit of a surprise is that Freeze appears to have done so much to boost the offense so quickly -- more on that in a moment. If Ole Miss can keep its scoring pace going, it might be able to force just enough shootouts to squeeze out a bowl bid this year. Unlikely, sure -- but not quite as impossible as it might have seemed a few months ago.

Remaining schedule: at Tulane, at Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, at Arkansas, at Georgia, Vanderbilt, at LSU, Mississippi State

What's wrong: Let's just say that there aren't a ton of Bednarik candidates on this team. The pass efficiency and total defense are last in the SEC, and the passing yardage defense is next to last. Sacks are the only major category in which the defense ranks in the Top 25 nationally or in the top third of the SEC.

Rays of hope: The offense is much, much better than the defense. Ole Miss is averaging 500.7 yards per game of offense, including a 399-yard performance in the waxing by Texas last weekend. Much of that success has come on the ground so far, but Bo Wallace is the 26th most efficient passer in the country, so the Rebels can air the ball out when they need to. If the defense can just hold up a little bit better, some upset possibilities open up.

Prognosis: It still looks like the holidays are going to be open for the Freeze family this year. Tulane is the only certain or even likely win on the schedule; it would not surprise anyone for Ole Miss to lose all its remaining SEC games. Hosting Auburn looks promising for a possible upset, but finding three of the non-Tulane games that the Rebels can plausibly win to get to .500 on the season is tough. Not that anyone can blame them for getting this far.