Home > College Football, Div-I FBS > College Football: Ole Miss in the BCS? Really?

College Football: Ole Miss in the BCS? Really?

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flickr.com/photoreb

After finishing the season on a five game winning streak, and ranked (albeit 25th), the Ole Miss Rebels are ready to take the next step, and led by head coach Houston Nutt and QB Jevan Snead, they are more than worthy of preseason top ten ten recognition, and have legitimate BCS bowl aspirations.

Or so I’ve been told.

DE Greg Hardy and Snead are legitimate first round NFL prospects, but this is the SEC.  A pair of future NFL talents does not guarantee success.  Pretty much all other teams in the conference can match that.

The Rebels began last season with an incredibly unimpressive 4-4 start, but within that start, they upset Florida by a point, and  lost to then No. 1 Alabama by only 4 points.  In the eyes of many, those performances were justified when the Rebels went on a 5-0 tear to finish the season, emphatically capping their best effort of the season by putting a 47 spot on the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who were in the National Championship discussion prior to that.

The fact that they had four great games to end the season added to the fact that they ran with the two best teams in the SEC last year has many convinced that they are the third best team in the SEC, and the most serious challenger for Alabama in the SEC West.

Of course, given the eight month layoff between their bowl game and opening kickoff of the 2009 season, the fact that they looked like a top team at the end of the year seemingly has little relevance.  If they had played their best games in the middle of last season, and had ended with losses to LSU and Texas Tech, it’s safe to say that only a handful of people would have even put them in their top 25.  Beating Florida would have been every bit as impressive as it was, and yet, the same team with a stronger performance in the middle of the season, but weaker at the end of the season would be considered the 8th or 9th best team in it’s own conference.

I’m open to arguments from Rebel fans as to why the team’s improved play in it’s final five games has special significance, and I suppose the team could improve over last year’s level of play, but outside of Snead at quarterback, I don’t see what separates this team from the South Carolina’s, LSU’s, and Tennessee’s of the world.

Any explanation for the team improving would have to explain how they can replace the productivity of NFL first rounders DT Peria Jerry and LT Michael Oher.

So is Snead the answer?  He completed only 56% of his passes for 8.45 yards per attempt, and an obscene 26 TD’s.  I guess there’s room for improvement in his completion percentage, something he’s going to need to improve on to be a legitimate NFL prospect.  But unless he simply gets better at doing what he’s already good at, throwing downfield for yards and TD’s, there’s no way he can get more production than 26 passing TD’s out of his talent.

To me, Snead is near the ceiling of what can be accomplished at the college level.  Now, his NFL prospects are another story.  He’s got plenty to prove to NFL scouts about his ability to translate his skills to the next level, and he’s got 13 games to prove it.  But it seems that, based on his 2008 numbers, any improvement in his ability to read coverages and make accurate passes isn’t going to help him throw for better than 8.45 yards per attempt and 26 TD’s.

If anything, Snead numbers might take a small step back this year.

There’s no Florida on the schedule this year, which is probably the biggest help in getting them into BCS contention this year, but it also means that they have to win 10 games in 12 tries to have any shot to make it in.  Even with no Florida and a soft non-conference schedule, I see only half their games in which they can go in as a unanimous favorite.  This includes: all four non-conference games, and the season finale at Ole Miss.

Even if they can beat Alabama, something that few are predicting, and even if they manage to somehow start 5-0, it’s still not very likely they can finish 5-2 or better.  Between Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, and LSU, 2-2 in that stretch seems rather optimistic (though not quite like a 5-0 start).  And even if they manage to beat Alabama, start 5-0, go 2-2 in that stretch, and win the SEC West, their BCS bid still ends if they fail to win the SEC Championship…and the likely favorite to win the SEC East is the Gators.

Still, some are taking the opportunity to give the Rebels some love before they can prove it unwarranted.

They are probably among the top third of teams in college football at this point.  That just doesn’t make them a very good bet to surprise in the SEC

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  1. January 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm

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