Monday, July 30, 2012
One good reason: Ole Miss
By ESPN.com staff
We continue our "One good reason" series with Ole Miss.
Let's see what's in store for the Rebels in Hugh Freeze's first year on the job:
Ole Miss will snap its 14-game SEC losing streak: The Rebels have at least three winnable games at home, and there's a new energy surrounding the program with Freeze's arrival.
The last time Ole Miss won an SEC football game was Oct. 2, 2010, against Kentucky. The Rebels have lost 14 in a row in the league ... as if anybody in Oxford really needed to be reminded. A year ago, seven of Ole Miss' eight losses in the conference were by 14 points or more. Freeze has a major rebuilding task in front of him, but the Rebels are not without young talent. Plus, the coaching change has given them a new lease on life, and the attitudes across the board seem much better. The same goes for the leadership on this team, which will only get stronger if D.T. Shackelford is able to return to the field and play this season. The other thing the Rebels have going for them are some games at home they should have a fighting chance to win. Texas A&M and Auburn come to Oxford on back-to-back weekends in October, and Vanderbilt pays a visit to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Nov. 10. The Commodores have had the Rebels' number recently, but the game is being played later than usual this season, and that should benefit Ole Miss. It may be premature to predict a bowl game in Freeze's first season, but the odds are in the Rebels' favor that they will break through and win at least one SEC game this season.
Why it won't: The Rebels are playing in the West.
It's true that Ole Miss lost to both Kentucky and Vanderbilt last season, but the mere fact that the Rebels are playing in the rugged Western Division makes the prospects of ending their SEC drought that much more difficult. Alabama, Arkansas and LSU will all start the season ranked among the country's top 12 or 15 teams. Auburn is only two years removed from a national championship, and Dan Mullen feels really good about the team he will put on the field this season at Mississippi State. There just aren't a lot of chances to pick up wins in the West, and one of the Rebels' cross-divisional opponents this season is East favorite Georgia. If the Rebels are going to end the streak this season, they might want to get it over with early. Three of their final five league games are on the road against Arkansas, Georgia and LSU.