There's been varying degrees of preseason buzz about both Mississippi teams this year, though the preseason consensus appears to be focusing more on Ole Miss. Obviously, since the Rebels go first in our previews this year, I'm a bit higher on Mississippi State -- something that will be completely explained later this week. But for the time being, it's important to note that Ole Miss and the Bulldogs face the same problem: They're in the wrong division.
If Ole Miss were in the SEC East right now, it's not a stretch to see them as a competitor for the division title. In the West, though, claiming the division likely requires winning at least two out of three against Auburn, LSU and Alabama -- and that's a lot to ask out of any team. One out of three is plausible. Two out of three is not impossible, but it's incredibly difficult. And it's hard to see a sweep of the three, which is the only way that Ole Miss could ensure itself a trip to Atlanta.
Of the Big Three, the Ole Miss is probably closest to LSU, given the personnel changes and the fact that the Rebels won that game last year. But the Tigers host this time around, and the game is the fourth of five straight SEC games for the Rebels, with none of those games being overly easy. (Kentucky is literally the only other team in the conference that plays five straight SEC games with no bye.)
Among those five straight games, by the way, are all three of the games against Alabama, LSU and Auburn. That kind of week-in, week-out beating takes a physical toll on a team, even if it doesn't show up on the injury report. The schedule that Ole Miss faces is not the most grinding in the conference based on the teams it includes, but in the way it's arranged, it just might be.
So, yes, Bo Wallace will be good. And the Rebels' defense should be improved. And Ole Miss is a legitimate threat to be a dark horse in the SEC West -- but there's a gap between that and saying that they will contend. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rebels win 10 games this year; I'm just not counting on it.
|OLE MISS REBELS
|Place: 5th in the SEC West
Record: 8-4, 4-4 SEC
Could be: 5-7 to 10-2
Best chance for an upset: AUBURN
|8.28.14 | vs. BOISE STATE (Atlanta) | WIN|
|9.6.14 | vs. VANDERBILT (LP Field) | WIN|
|9.13.14 | LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE | WIN|
|9.27.14 | MEMPHIS | WIN|
|10.4.14 | ALABAMA | LOSS|
|10.11.14 | at TEXAS A&M | WIN|
|10.18.14 | TENNESSEE | WIN|
|10.25.14 | at LSU | LOSS|
|11.1.14 | AUBURN | LOSS|
|11.8.14 | PRESBYTERIAN | WIN|
|11.22.14 | at ARKANSAS | WIN|
|11.29.14 | MISSISSIPPI STATE | LOSS|