Happy Thursday, everybody. Welcome to today’s edition of The Ole Miss Wake-Up Call, your daily sports page for everything Ole Miss sports.
There’s no better time than a bye week to dream the impossible dream. At 3-2 (1-1 SEC), the Ole Miss Rebels still could make it to the College Football Playoff, and I’m here to tell you why.
Top 10 Reasons Ole Miss could make the College Football Playoff
10. Quality losses. Ole Miss lost to two teams that were ranked in the top 5. Alabama is ranked No. 1. Florida State has tumbled after losing to Louisville and North Carolina, but those were “quality” losses. The playoff selection committee will consider the quality of opponents when examining win-loss records.
9. Ole Miss looked good losing. The Rebels passed the eye test in their two losses. While Ole Miss lost in frustrating fashion because of turnovers and second-half defensive collapses, the Rebels left spectators slack-jawed with their amazing offensive prowess in the first half against Florida State and Alabama. For flashes during those games, the Rebels looked like the best team on the field by a country mile. Anybody watching knew that if the Rebels could figure out a way to play the third quarter like they did the first, they would be the better team.
8. Improvement. Convincing wins against Georgia and Memphis showed that Ole Miss is improving in almost every facet. Chad Kelly has gotten more careful with the football and more accurate with his throws. It’s almost unnecessary to talk about all those future NFL receivers because the college football world knows how good they are. The secondary and offensive line, two position groups that may have been weak links in early September, have shown drastic improvement. Both groups are young, but both have grown stronger. Ole Miss still is looking for an answer at linebacker, but every other position is trending up.
7. Big names. Marquee (no pun intended) players will draw the attention of people who matter. The ESPN talking heads like big names. If Kelly, Damore’ea Stringfellow, Evan Engram and Marquis Haynes continue to play well in the nationally televised SEC stretch of games to come, they will become stars. Those guys already look better than everybody on the field. With big SEC games remaining against Arkansas, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M, Ole Miss still has a chance to get a lot of people talking. If Ole Miss wins, Kelly, Stringfellow, Engram and Haynes are the guys everybody will talk about. The temptation to openly wonder how these players would look in the Playoff will be too hard to resist in mid-November.
6. Favorable schedule. With Florida State and Alabama out of the way, Ole Miss should be favored in every game remaining, except perhaps at Texas A&M. That’s not to say the Rebels will win every game, but Ole Miss has the ability if it can stay focused and avoid costly turnovers.
5. Chad Kelly. He really is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Great teams usually have great quarterbacks. Kelly, who nearly broke the SEC record for total yards in a season a year ago, is well on his way to an even better season. He knows he has to take better care of the football than he did against Alabama and Florida State for Ole Miss to win, and so far Kelly seems to be.
4. Two SEC teams can make it. Two teams from the SEC can make the College Football Playoff … even teams from the same division. So, what if Alabama doesn’t lose and the Rebels miss out on the SEC Championship Game? If Ole Miss is playing great football in November, and Alabama is undefeated and ranked No. 1, it will reflect well on the Rebels that they only lost to the Crimson Tide by 5 and led by 21 points in the first half. It was an exciting game that most of the nation watched in September, and it would be a rematch people would want to see. If Ole Miss wins out, some people will beg for it.
3. Those receivers. Hugh Freeze has assembled the most talented group of receivers in my college football memory. Defenses don’t have an answer for them. To double-team anyone is to leave another just-as-good receiver in a 1-on-1. It’s an impossible situation for defenses and one that Kelly is ready to exploit over and over. That’s the type of offense that can take a team a long way.
2. The current ranking. Because Ole Miss looked so strong in those early losses, the Rebels never fell out of the AP Top 25. Now that Ole Miss is back to No. 14, it’s in easy striking distance of the top 5. All the Rebels need to do is win. Just win.
1. Because it’s time. No team makes it to the top without the right things happening at the right time. Teams that go the distance usually catch a break or get a fortunate bounce. In short, the Rebels could make it to the Playoff because they’re due a lucky break. Ole Miss hasn’t won a national championship since my dad was a boy. My dad is old. The sports gods have been unkind to Ole Miss football long enough. When it’s your time, it’s your time. We don’t know if it’s Ole Miss’ time yet, but I just gave nine reasons why it could be.
Enjoy your bye-week dreams.
The Season: Memphis
There’s no better way to get insight into Ole Miss football than to watch “The Season.”
A Rebel for a moment
This virtual-reality video gives an idea of what it would be like to get off the bus and walk down the Walk of Champions. It’s definitely worth a watch.
Another all-star wide receiver wants to be a Rebel
The performance of the Ole Miss wide receivers must be making an impact on Ole Miss commit D.D. Bowie. It certainly isn’t hurting. The 4-star wide receiver from Morton (Miss.) sounds more than certain that Oxford is the place he wants to be next fall.
Ole Miss fans might appreciate this quote from WR commit @DdBowie1: "That's my school. I'm going there. There ain't no doubt."
— Will Sammon (@WillSammon) October 5, 2016
Here’s a look at Bowie’s highlights from his sophomore season. Just what the Rebels needed … another elite receiver at Wide Receiver U.