At times the Ole Miss football team has avoided its off-field issues and looked like the team their recruiting rankings would suggest.
Other times they’ve fallen apart and lost three straight in a series to Arkansas.
And, to be honest, it is likely the Rebels will be picked by most to do so again this year. Later this week, at SEC Media Days, the preseason predictions will come. It’s expected Ole Miss will be picked sixth or seventh in the SEC West.
There is danger on the team, though — high-end recruiting classes will do that. And given that the matchup is down in Oxford, who knows, as the Rebels aren’t exactly that far behind the Razorbacks.
Here is a preview and predictions of how SEC Country thinks the game will go.
Ole Miss Rebels
Coach: Hugh Freeze (sixth season, 39-25)
Last season: 5-7, 2-6 (seventh in SEC West)
Plays Arkansas: Oct. 28 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford
2016 by the numbers
- Scoring offense: 32.6 points per game (42nd out of 128 teams in FBS)
- Passing offense: 314.9 yards per game (13th)
- Rushing offense: 149.4 yards per game (95th)
- Scoring defense: 34 points per game (100th)
- Passing defense: 214.9 yards allowed per game (48th)
- Rushing defense: 246.3 yards allowed per game (120th)
Ole Miss offense
Shea Patterson deserves most of the plaudits he gets as quarterback at Ole Miss. Most of them. Patterson isn’t the savior, though. Or, he didn’t look like it last year, anyway. What he can do is throw and run, which is helpful on an offense that couldn’t run worth a lick when it had experienced running backs. Now that most of that experience is gone, what’re they going to do? The leading returning rusher, Eugene Breazley, had 269 yards last year.
What Patterson does have, though, is maybe the second best offensive line in the league. Four starters are back and the lone new guy was the top offensive line recruit in the country two years ago. Throw in AJ Brown and Van Jefferson at wideout for Patterson’s weapons, and Ole Miss is dangerous on offense if they get rolling.
Ole Miss defense
The Rebels defense could be good, too, actually. Relatively speaking. Marquis Haynes is, for my money, the best defensive end in the league. He isn’t spectacular or anything, but he’s well-rounded, can stop the run and get to the quarterback.
Five of the top six tacklers are back, including both safeties in Myles Hartsfield and Zedrick Woods. They can cover back there, but need to be better in run support as the Rebels – as witnessed by the numbers above – were atrocious against the run.
Ole Miss vs. Arkansas positional edges
- Quarterback — Arkansas
- Running back — Arkansas
- Receivers — Ole Miss
- Offensive line — Ole Miss
- Defensive line — Ole Miss
- Linebackers — Ole Miss
- Secondary — Arkansas
- Special teams — Ole Miss
What SEC Country says about Ole Miss vs. Arkansas
Eric Bolin: All the high-end recruiting Ole Miss has done in recent seasons — however gained — has kept the Rebels with talent on both sides of the ball. But that talent meant squat last year. And while I don’t think off-field stuff carries over into on-field results much, there is too much at Ole Miss to ignore.
Prediction: Razorbacks 28, Ole Miss 21
Jason Kersey: The Ole Miss program is a mess right now and Arkansas has beaten the Rebels the last three seasons. I think Austin Allen and the Hogs win with relative ease.
Prediction: Razorbacks 45, Ole Miss 27
Trent Shadid: The good news for the Rebels is a significantly more manageable schedule in 2017. The bad news is a considerable loss in talent. Sophomore QB Patterson seems like a fine young playmaker, but all the known commodities at wide receiver and tight end have departed. On defense, there’s a new coordinator, Wesley McGriff, though I don’t envision a drastic turnaround from allowing an SEC-worst 34 points per game last season. That spells a fourth-straight win for Arkansas in the series.
Prediction: Razorbacks 38, Ole Miss 28
Projected average final score of Ole Miss vs. Arkansas
Arkansas 37, Ole Miss 28
Arkansas’ projected record so far
SEC Country: 4.3-3.6