Mississippi and South Carolina Cross Paths to Redemption

c dockensCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2008

Oxford, Miss.: Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks visit the Ole Miss Rebels and their new head coach, Houston Nutt.

The Gamecocks are reeling from back-to-back conference losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia. After a two-week hiatus from conference play, the Gamecocks will face an up-and-coming Mississippi team who stunned the nation with a 31-30 upset over the Florida Gators last week.

That looked similar to Houston Nutt's 50-48 win over LSU last year while coaching at Arkansas. Coming into this game, both Ole Miss and South Carolina are 3-2.

Both are taking the first steps down the long road to redemption, and out of the proverbial cellars of there respective divisions; and where better to begin than the hallowed grounds of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium?

South Carolina lost in Week Two to a Vanderbilt team that is significantly better than most expected. The following week, the Gamecocks lost to Georgia when South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley's pass was picked off in the end zone by Georgia's Rashad Jones as time ran out.

Ole Miss was Vanderbilt's latest victim. The Rebels' loss came from the inability to move the ball efficiently. The biggest problem was turnovers, six to be exact.

Four were interceptions, the last as time expired to seal a Commodore victory. The loss to Vandy came just two short weeks after a heartbreaking loss to the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest, when Deacons kicker Sam Swank nailed a 41-yard field goal with three seconds remaining on the clock.

This Ole Miss team that South Carolina will be facing is much more mature and improved from last year's. A great challenge lies before the Gamecocks, just one of the many mountains they will have to climb en route to getting Steve Spurrier his second national championship.

As for the Rebels, the program is steeped in history, yet so far removed from where it once stood.

The challenge is clear; this is the next step to silencing critics in the SEC and the nation, and restoring the Rebels back to the national prominence they experienced under John Vaught and more recently David Cutcliffe.