We reviewed five preseason magazines — Athlon, ESPN, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and The Sporting News — and broke down their team-by-team predictions.
Wednesday, we examine Ole Miss. Here is what’s being said about the Rebels:
Sporting News (2nd in SEC West — No. 7, Sugar Bowl): “This ranking might seem high given how much the Rebels lost to the NFL, but Chad Kelly is back at quarterback and Hugh Freeze has built a team capable of winning the SEC West.”
Athlon (3rd in SEC West — No. 10, 9-3, Citrus Bowl): “Take heart, Ole Miss fans. The window hasn’t closed. For the first time since — ever? — Ole Miss was hit hard by early entries to the NFL draft, but Hugh Freeze, who brought in his second top-10 signing class in four years, has plenty of talent to remain relevant in the SEC West.”
Lindy’s (3rd in SEC West — No. 13): “We have to give Ole Miss three losses right off the top (Florida State, Alabama, LSU). Throw in another setback somewhere in the SEC, and that would be a hard-earned 8-4 regular season.”
ESPN (3rd in SEC West — No. 14, 8.1 projected wins): “With stud QB Chad Kelly back under center, Ole Miss is still trending up in the West. It just needs to get through September alive (Florida State, ‘Bama, Georgia).”
Phil Steele (3rd in SEC West — No. 17, Citrus Bowl): “The Rebels are a little less experienced this year with just 10 returning starters back, but compared to LSU and Alabama, they have a large edge at QB with Chad Kelly. This team is capable of contending for top SEC honors.”
Chad Kelly’s Heisman standing: No. 7 (Athlon — “Kelly threw only one interception in the Rebels’ final four games), No. 7 (Lindy’s — “He’d need to beat Alabama…”), No. 7 (Phil Steele — “It’s because of him the Rebels have a shot at winning the SEC.”), not listed (ESPN, Sporting News)
Preseason All-American selections: Chad Kelly (2nd x1), Evan Engram (3rd x1, 4th x1), Marquis Haynes (4th x1)
Preseason All-SEC selections: Chad Kelly (1st, unanimous), Evan Engram (1st x3, 2nd x1), Marquis Haynes (2nd x2, 3rd x1), Tony Conner (2nd x3), Demore’ea Stringfellow (2nd x1), Robert Conyers (3rd x1), Kendarius Webster (3rd x1), Javon Patterson (3rd x1), Gary Wunderlich (3rd x1), Quincy Adeboyejo (4th x1), Greg Little (4th x1)
- Phil Steele projected Ole Miss’ 2016 schedule to be the second-toughest in the nation, and the toughest in the SEC. Alabama is No. 3, followed by Auburn at No. 5, Texas A&M at No. 7 and Arkansas at No. 8.
- ESPN’s Football Power Index indicated that Ole Miss’ toughest game will be at LSU (23 percent chance of winning), while the second-easiest game will be vs. Memphis (96 percent), a team Ole Miss lost to last season.
- ESPN spoke to an anonymous SEC coach who said Kelly was “the best QB we played against last year,” and that Hugh Freeze’s offense is tough to defend with Kelly operating it: “You try to put too many people in the box, and he runs those wheel routes.”
- Athlon spoke to an anonymous coach who had some reservations about Kelly: “I think Chad Kelly is a little more sporadic and not as refined as many people think, but as a team they were really, really skilled.”
- Athlon ranked Ole Miss No. 4 in the country last year in both offensive efficiency (based on “rate of successful plays”) and offensive explosiveness (yards per play).
- Sporting News said that Ole Miss’ recruiting effort on the offensive side of the ball was a “grand slam,” as the Rebels “added the nation’s top quarterback, Shea Patterson, and the nation’s top offensive tackle, Greg Little, plus two top in-state receivers in A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.”
- Lindy’s found that Ole Miss is No. 6 in the country at covering gambling spreads in the last five years, going 35-25 for a 58.6 percent success rate.
- Lindy’s called the opener vs. Florida State the nation’s No. 4 non-conference game this season.