If you are a fan of Ole Miss football, this has been a rough year for you so far. Absolutely no one expected the Rebels to be 2-2 going into the Kentucky game, but that is exactly where the Rebels stand after four games.
Can Ole Miss still get to a bowl game this year after such a terrible start?
The answer is absolutely, but only if the defense gets it together, and fast! The Ole Miss offense looked impressive and ready to start playing ball against Fresno State. They truly looked like a dominant unit, scoring 55 points, but the defense was still ripped for 38 points.
Adjustments have to be made on the defensive side of the ball for the Rebels to have a chance to go bowling in 2010. Houston Nutt simply cannot depend on the offense to to continue to outscore the remaining teams on the schedule. The defense has to step up, and step up fast.
If the defense, especially the secondary, can find a way to keep opponents out of the end zone, the Rebels still have a chance to get to a bowl this season. This is not to say that I expect the Rebels to go bowling, but there is still a chance.
The easy part of the Rebels' schedule is over, for the most part. They do still have a game against LA Lafayette that should be an easy win, but four weeks ago, I would have said the same thing about Jacksonville State game and the Vanderbilt game.
So why do I say that the Rebels still have a decent chance to go bowling? There are at least four more winnable games on the schedule, and the Rebels need to win them all. Let's look at the remaining schedule for the Rebels.
Oct 2 vs Kentucky
Oct 16 vs Alabama
Oct 23 vs Arkansas
Oct 30 vs Auburn
Nov 6 vs LA Lafayette
Nov 13 vs Tennessee
Nov 20 vs LSU
Nov 27 vs MSU
The games with Kentucky, LA Lafayette, Tennessee, and MSU are all winnable games. Winning these four games will give the Rebels the six wins needed to go bowling. But there is no room for any let downs and the defense has to come together fast, as Kentucky has the ability to put up some offensive numbers. Don't let the Florida game fool you—Kentucky is a decent team.
Also, Ole Miss has a habit of pulling one big upset over a team that they aren't supposed to beat. Again, this appears to be dependent on the defense solving multiple problems. There is no way that the Rebels will beat Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, or LSU without a much stouter defense than we have seen so far this year.
Although you definitely shouldn't bet the house on the Rebels going bowling this year, don't count them out just yet. Ole Miss usually gets better as the season progresses. This is doable, but there is no room for mistakes.
If the Rebel defense can tighten up, the offense continues to get better, and Houston Nutt doesn't drop the ball too many times, the Rebels can still salvage this season. Don't be surprised if the Rebels win their last four games and go bowling for the third year in a row.