Happy Monday, everybody, and welcome to the Ole Miss Wake-Up Call, your daily sports page for all things Ole Miss sports.
Three huge games ahead
It’s make or break time for Ole Miss football as a critical midseason conference stretch is set to begin. These next three games against SEC West rivals will dictate the rest of the season.
Saturday at Arkansas
Oct. 22 at LSU
Oct. 29 vs. Auburn
Expect the Rebels to be favorites in all three games. In fact, Ole Miss opened as a 6.5-point favorite over Arkansas on Sunday. With the Rebels set to move up another spot or two from No. 14 when the polls are released on Monday, this stretch of games easily could thrust Ole Miss into the top 10 and the College Football Playoff hunt if the Rebels can win out in October. Ole Miss is already lurking just outside the top 10 of ESPN’s Football Power Index at No. 11.
The Rebels still have a lot to play for, and that’s the message the Ole Miss video team seems to be sending in this hype piece that was dropped on Sunday night.
Week 6 was good to Ole Miss
Without even taking the field, some good things happened for Ole Miss’ playoff chances over the weekend.
- No. 6 Houston lost to Navy. Ole Miss’ best chance to make the College Football Playoff is as the second SEC team. The chances of Alabama, which destroyed Arkansas on Saturday, losing look very slim at this point. A second SEC team likely wouldn’t have a chance to make the 4-team field if an American Athletic Conference team took the fourth spot, but the loss to the Midshipmen on Saturday ended any chance Houston had to crash the party, and that’s a good thing for the Rebels. Barring a huge upset, the winner of Michigan-Ohio State will be in the playoff. The undefeated Washington Huskies, which beat Oregon 70-21, is on the fast track to represent the Pac-12 in the playoff. With Texas and Oklahoma faltering, the Big 12 doesn’t seem like a threat to have a team represented in football’s final four. That’s why the fourth playoff spot could go to either a second team from either the SEC or Big Ten, though something crazy would have to happen to either the Huskies or the ACC champion for that to happen.
- Texas A&M survived Tennessee. By beating the Vols in one of the wildest and most delightfully exciting college football games of the season, the Aggies stayed undefeated and will climb higher in the top 10. Ole Miss will need a quality win to increase its stock in the eyes of the selection committee, and Texas A&M is the only Top 25 team remaining on the Rebels’ schedule. A win over a 1-loss Texas A&M would be just what the Rebels need to make believers.
- Florida State beat Miami. The Seminoles’ season was on a downward slide before beating the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes 20-19. For a 2-loss team to make the playoff, those two losses need to be to excellent football teams, so Florida State beating Miami is a good thing.
- Alabama just keeps getting better. The SEC championship game is the most direct course to the Playoff, but absent that opportunity, seeing an undefeated and dominant Alabama in that contest would be the next best thing for the Rebels, given that Ole Miss lost by only 5 points to the Tide. Alabama’s splattering of Arkansas was also good for Ole Miss in that regard.
The SEC Country Power Poll
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
- Mississippi State
- South Carolina
I don’t have a vote in this poll, but if I did, I’d rank Ole Miss ahead of Tennessee and Texas A&M. Both teams are flawed, as that thrilling-but-messy second half showed on Saturday night. I’d probably move Mississippi State down another spot or two. The Bulldogs didn’t look like a team that would have beaten any team ranked beneath them in their 38-14 loss to Auburn on Saturday.
Week 6 wasn’t all roses
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly spent his bye week back home in Buffalo, but what was supposed to be a weekend of rest and relaxation with the family turned into national news when Kelly rushed the field of a high school football game after a late hit on his little brother turned into a brawl on Friday night. By now you’ve likely seen the video, which captured the 22-year-old college senior being restrained from doing something he definitely would have regretted.
FULL VIDEO: Here is the play that started the fight at Timon. Chad Kelly then goes onto field after hit on brother Casey. Game called. pic.twitter.com/2ImgM7lGZI
— Tom Martin (@4TomMartin) October 8, 2016
Fortunately, Kelly didn’t push anyone or punch anyone, and the story should end there.
Freeze remarks on Chad Kelly to the Associated Press: pic.twitter.com/xElUwRXIFd
— OMRebelNation.com (@OMRebelNation) October 8, 2016
But it was a bad look, and Hugh Freeze probably will have some serious words for his quarterback.
After getting kicked off the team at Clemson, and arrested in Buffalo in December 2014, Kelly has done a good job of staying out of trouble at Ole Miss since stepping on campus in the spring of 2015, but a very bad situation was narrowly averted on Friday night. Freeze is constantly preaching to his players to protect the team by making decisions off the field that won’t harm the team. Kelly wasn’t thinking about the team when he ran across that high school field into a situation that easily could have led to a fight. I expect Freeze already has told his star quarterback as much. While wanting to stand up for your little brother is admirable in some contexts, it wasn’t in this one. Kelly still has some growing up to do. But, hey, what 22-year-old doesn’t?
The NCAA makes a move
The NCAA announced on Friday that it has separated its investigation of Ole Miss football from the investigations of women’s track and basketball. In doing so, the NCAA in large part seemed satisfied with the penalties that Ole Miss self-imposed in women’s basketball and track apart from show-cause orders issued against the coaches who already were fired in the wake of the school learning of the violations. What does this mean for football? Probably nothing, but I’d like to think it’s a good sign that the NCAA mostly went along with the self-imposed violations. Then again, that’s probably just wishful thinking on my part. One thing this news definitely means for football is that it will be a long while before we hear the final results of the football investigation.
Treadwell makes his first NFL catch … sort of
Laquon Treadwell’s rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings hasn’t gone the way many of us thought it would. The first-round draft pick has hardly seen the playing field and was even inactive for a game. But in Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans, Treadwell fielded the Texans’ onside kick to help close out the win for the Vikings. It’s a start.
School spirit is one thing. Painting your entire head red and wearing tusks is something completely different. Welcome to Arkansas week.
— OMRebelNation.com (@OMRebelNation) October 9, 2016
Around Ole Miss Sports
- Ole Miss soccer lost to Florida.
- Volleyball fell to Texas A&M.
- Ole Miss tennis player Arianne Hartono narrowly lost to one of nation’s best players.
- Women’s golf records its best score of the season.
- Rebel Tennis player Gustav Hansson lost to the nation’s No. 1 player.
- Marquis Haynes isn’t haunted by the facemask penalty that cost the Rebels against Arkansas.