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Post One SEC media member got it (almost) right

Monday November 24, 2008

Back in July when the SEC media made its preseason predictions, a single vote stood out among the dozens cast. David Paschall pretty much captured my reaction when he wrote that, "The Ole Miss Rebels somehow received a first-place vote after going 0-8 in the league last year." That’s right: Alabama, zero votes. Ole Miss, one vote. The SEC media split its SEC West first-place votes among Auburn, LSU, and….Ole Miss.

The Rebels are in no danger of winning the SEC West, but in hindsight that lone voter – through luck or skill – had a lot more insight than the rest who put LSU or Auburn at the top. With Saturday’s win at LSU, Ole Miss moved into second place in the SEC West behind undefeated Alabama. The Rebels are 4-3 in the conference and 7-4 overall. This week’s Egg Bowl played at home against Mississippi State stands between the Rebels and a very solid 5-3 SEC record made all the more remarkable when you consider that Ole Miss won a total of 3 SEC games during the three years with Ed Orgeron at the helm.

With that record, it would be tough to keep Ole Miss out of a pretty nice bowl game. Only Alabama, Florida, and Georgia would have better SEC records. If Houston Nutt, with a new program and a new quarterback, could turn Ole Miss from a team that went winless in the SEC a year ago to a team headed for a New Year’s bowl, I don’t see how anyone else could be considered the SEC’s Coach of the Year.

Of course it all comes down to this weekend. Not only would a loss to Mississippi State drop the Rebels into a 4-4 mess, a loss in their biggest rivalry game would also take a lot of the shine off of a nice season. The memory of last year’s epic collapse in Starkville still has to hurt, and a win this year to top off a winning season would go a long way towards erasing the bad memories left from the end of the Orgeron era.

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