Happy Friday, everybody, and welcome to the Ole Miss Wake-Up Call, your weekday destination for everything that’s going on in the world of Ole Miss sports.
The Ole Miss Rebels (3-2, 1-1 SEC) will be consensus favorites when they play the Arkansas Razorbacks (4-2, 0-2) in Fayetteville on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Bovada has the Rebels favored by 7.5 points.
- UPI.com projects Ole Miss by seven.
- The guys at CBS Sports say the Rebels will be too much for Arkansas.
- Most of ESPN’s SEC writers picked Ole Miss.
- And the guys at Campus Rush picked the Rebels, too.
Most still think it will be a relatively close game. I don’t, and here’s why:
Ole Miss could have picked its score against Georgia. The Rebels led 45-0 in the 3rd quarter before Hugh Freeze finally let his foot off the gas and pulled Chad Kelly to the sideline. Ole Miss was locked in on both sides of the football that day and really just plain mopped the field with the Bulldogs. And what happened the next weekend? The 9th-ranked Knoxville Miracle (a.k.a. the Tennessee Vols) needed a Hail Mary to beat Georgia. It turns out that the Bulldogs are a pretty good football team.
So were Alabama and Florida State. When the Rebels are locked in, and Chad Kelly’s wide receivers are lit up like infrared targets for Kelly’s heat-seeking passes, Ole Miss is unstoppable. What we saw against Georgia is what the Rebels will look like against the rest of their schedule now that this offense is clicking.
Arkansas allowed 8.4 yards per play to TCU, Texas A&M and Alabama.
If that level of defensive futility holds, the Ole Miss offense is probably going to break a few records on Saturday. And that’s especially true if running backs Akeem Judd and Eugene Brazley pick up where they left off against Memphis, when the duo each rushed for more than 100 yards. If those two running backs get going against the Razorbacks, it will be lights out for Arkansas.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss 48, Arkansas 28
Kelly: Bring it on
There’s not a better quarterback than Kelly when it comes to playing a ranked opponent. Arkansas is ranked No. 22.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) October 13, 2016
We think we know but we don’t know
Right now it seems so obvious that the College Football Playoff will be made up of some combination of Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, Ohio State or Washington. Those five teams seem unbeatable except we know either the Wolverines or Buckeyes will have to lose when they play each other at the end of the season.
We think we know, and the experts think they know. It’s all just a matter of getting through the formality of the next seven weeks of football. Right?
Consider this from SBNation.com’s Bill Connelly:
At this point in 2015, 10 of the top 11 in the AP poll were unbeaten, and every conference had heavyweight battles we were talking about far in advance: No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 3 TCU, No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 11 Florida State, No. 6 LSU vs. No. 10 Alabama, and the round robin between No. 1 Ohio State, No. 7 Michigan State, and No. 12 Michigan.
Almost nothing played out like it was supposed to. The four teams that ended up in the 2015 Playoff were ranked fifth, seventh, 10th, and 19th after six weeks. In 2014, they were first, seventh, 12th, and 15th.
There’s a lot of football left to play, folks, and I’ve got a feeling there will some wacky twists and turns along the way. Ole Miss is in a good place at No. 12 so long as the Rebels can string some wins together.
A look around the SEC
Mississippi State at BYU (*Friday, 9:15, ESPN): The cowbell ringers aren’t happy with things after watching Auburn dominate the Bulldogs last week. If Mississippi State gets beaten in Provo, Dan Mullen may start to lose the fan base. The Cougars (3-3) have wins over Arizona and Michigan State. A Mississippi State win would be an upset. Ole Miss and the Bulldogs are trending in opposite directions.
Vanderbilt at Georgia (12 p.m., SEC Network): If there’s yard work to be done or errands to run this is the time to do it. The Bulldogs will win easily.
Alabama at Tennessee (3:30 p.m., CBS): Is Tennessee tired of playing from behind yet? Probably not. I fully expect we’ll all be glued to our television sets in the 4th quarter for yet another Saturday evening of listening to Verne Lundquist shouting “Ohhh my!” and Gary Danielson critiquing players and SEC replay officials, which is actually my idea of a great Saturday night.
YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!!!!
TENNESSEE TAKES OVER ON THE TOUCHBACK. https://t.co/WvQX4T347x
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) October 8, 2016
A Volunteer victory would rekindle Ole Miss’ hopes at winning the SEC West, but don’t hold your breath. The Crimson Tide will still be unbeaten when this one is over.
Missouri at Florida (4 p.m. SEC Network): I feel sad for the Missouri and Florida fans who won’t be able to watch the Alabama at Tennessee game. This game just sounds boring. Florida can keep its SEC East hopes alive with a win, which it should get easily, especially if quarterback Luke Del Rio is healthy for the Gators.
Ole Miss at Arkansas (7 p.m., ESPN): If Chad Kelly and the offense play as expected then it’ll be up to the defense to get a few stops. If they can do that the Rebels should win handily. Otherwise, hello overtime.
Southern Miss at LSU (7:30 p.m., SEC Network): Leonard Fournette isn’t expected to play, therefore, I’m not expected to watch. The sinister part of me wants the Tigers to lose so we can get the charade that is the media’s love affair with Ed Orgeron over with, but that’s unlikely to happen.
I’ll leave you with a little more Verne Lundquist. This is our last season with him, you know. We’ve got to soak the marrow out of these remaining Saturday’s.
Have a great weekend everybody! I’ll see you back here to rehash the weekend on Monday.