SportsRatings 2015 College Football Pre-season Top 128
|Mississippi Rebels (SEC #5; West #3)|
|AP #17 USA #19||Strength:#8 Success:#10 Overall:#9|
|Record: 9-4||Bowl: Lost to TCU 42-3
|Picks: AP #17 | USA #15 | Lindy's #28 | Athlon #11 | Steele #15 | ESPN #9
|Record: 9-3||Bowl odds: 99.3% Playoff odds: 5%|
Mississippi started last year like the best team in the country, then fell apart near the end. They gear up for another try at the SEC West title, which would put them in line for the College Football Playoff.
9 ret. starters
|2014 Scoring Offense: #69 (raw) #37 (adjusted for opposition)|
|2015 Projected Scoring Offense: #25 (adjusted)
The Rebels lose QB Bo Wallace but most of the rest of the offense is back and could be top 25 level.
|2014 Passing Rank: #39 (raw) #26 (adjusted)||2014 Sacks Allowed (raw): #89|
|2015 Projected Passing Rank: #36 (adjusted)
||2015 Sacks Allowed (proj.): #41|
Bo Wallace (3,194 yards, 22 TDs, 14 int) is gone as is top receiver Vince Sanders (696 yards) but Wallace spread the ball around pretty well; six other players topped 150 receiving yards and all of them are back including TE Evan Engram (662), Laquon Treadwell (632), and Cody Core (558). Backup QB Ryan Buchanan (75 yards, 0:1) was the starter in spring ball but ex-Clemson juco Chad Kelly is the presumed starter in the fall. The offensive line should greatly improve pass protection over last year's 31 sacks as all five starters return. The passing game should remain pretty decent.
|Rushing||2014 Rushing Rank: #76 (raw) #58 (adjusted)||2015 Projected Rushing Rank: #39 (adj.)
The Ole Miss running back Committee had several members and the top two return, led by Jaylen Walton's 586 yards. In all, they lose 3 of the 6 players who topped 100 rushing yards. But the offensive line should boost the rushing totals this year as all five starters return. Seniors Ben Still, Justin Bell, Aaron Morris, and Fahn Cooper are joined by junior Laremy Tunsil. QB Chad Kelly can run the ball well (117 yards at Clemson, 7.1 ave), so if he gets the job he should easily pass Bo Wallace's production (#5 w/199).
|2014 Adjusted Stats:||Rush Defense: #14 Pass Defense per-game: #10 Per-attempt: #5|
7 ret. starters
|'14 Scoring Defense: #2 (raw) #2 (adjusted)||'14 sacks: #62||'14 picks: #4|
|'15 Projected Scoring Defense: #2 (adjusted)
||'15 sacks: #53||'15 picks: #26|
Last year Ole Miss's defense was #2 in the nation in scoring defense. Can they push to #1 with 7 starters back? The defensive line has three starters back including Marquise Haynes (7.5 sacks) and Robert Nkimdiche, while CJ Johnson moves to linebacker in the 4-2-5. The secondary has three starters back; they lose Senquez Golson who had 10 interceptions(!) but Tony Connor (8 tackles for loss) is back along with top tackler Mike Hilton. The loss of Golson forces us to dock Ole Miss' projection for interceptions quite a bit, naturally, but overall the defense is almost as good as last year's and still ranks in our #2 spot.
- Kicking Game: Will Gleason (42.9 punting average) is back along with Gary Wunderlich who shared punting and kicking duties last year (6 of 8 FG).
- Return Game: Markell Pack (5.3 punt return average) is back as is RB Jaylen Walton (21.3 average on kickoffs).
- Turnovers projection: We don't see much difference in fumbles nor in QB picks, but the defense will have a hard time matching last year's 22 interceptions without Senquez Golson, who had 10 of those.
Coaching Hot Seat Ranking: #78 (COOL)
Hugh Freeze's 3rd year at Ole Miss was almost magical but fell apart somewhat at the end, the only thing keeping him out of the Cold quadrant where his namesake belongs. He's added a win each year, going 7-6, 8-5, and 9-4 after taking over following after a 2-10 year.
Recruiting 2015 Recruiting Rank: #22 2014 Recruiting Rank: #18
Recruiting continues to go well and Ole Miss stays inside the top 25 which is definitely a requirement in the SEC West these days.
Mississipp started out like gangbusters and kept getting better. They crushed Boise State 35-13 and demolished Vanderbilt 41-3 on the road. They beat 9-4 ULL 56-15 and 10-3 Memphis 24-3. Still, it took beating Alabama 23-17 for people to realize how good they were. They handled Texas A&M 35-20 and wiped out Tennessee 34-3; at 7-0, they were #3 but were certainly playing like #1. Every game had been excellent. It only took a small step down to lose to LSU 10-7, and that affected the team. They lost at home to Auburn 35-31 the next week with the defense looking human for the first time. After crushing Presbyterian, they hit bottom against Arkansas in a 30-0 loss. The rivalry game brought out the best in Ole Miss and they trounced Mississippi State 31-17 at home, playing the way they did before things fell apart. But that was a temporary aberration; they lost to TCU 42-3 in the Peach Bowl to finish 9-4 after an amazing 7-0 start.
Last year's prediction: We ranked Ole Miss #10 last year, and despite the drop-off at the end that's not far from where they deserved to be ranked. We projected a 9-3 season with losses to Alabama, LSU, and Auburn (two out of three ain't bad). We also predicted that the defense would improve dramatically from #20 to #3, and they ended up #2. All in all not too shabby.
Mississippi 2015 schedule & forecast
|10/10||Sat||vs.||New Mexico State||99%||W|
Straight up: 11-1 Cume: 9-3 Bowl eligible: 99.3%
There's only one game in which we call Ole Miss a definite underdog—at Alabama, not surprisingly. But near the end of the season there are three very tough games that are either close calls or tossups: Auburn, LSU, and Mississippi State.
All four of those teams are in the SEC West along with the Rebels, so there's no way they can escape the killer parts of their schedule. But to counter that, they've scheduled in at trio of cupcakes in the early part of the season. Tennessee-Martin, Fresno State, and New Mexico State are all in Oxford and are all basically gimmes.
They also play Memphis on the road, and the Tigers are no pushover—that will certainly be a tougher game than facing Vanderbilt at home.
That leaves SEC games against Florida, Texas A&M, and Arkansas, and those are tough teams. Taken as a trio by the odds we'd expect the Rebels to win 2 and lose 1. But taken game-by-game, each one on its own should be a win for Ole Miss.
That gets down to the difference between the Straight Up and Cumulative projections. In the former, Mississippi is 11-1, or 10-2 if the tossup Egg Bowl flips to the Bulldogs. The cumulative projection is pretty firmly set at 9-3, without specifying which games are won or lost. In this case we like using the latter, since pretty much anything can happen in Mississippi's last four games.
If everything goes right for the Rebels this year (they upset Alabama, cruise through the rest of the schedule) they still have to win the SEC championship game to guarantee a Playoff spot. But coming from the SEC West having 1 loss is not a death sentence, nor in some cases even two. But finishing with just 1 or 2 losses is the hard part!
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SportsRatings 2015 College Football Pre-season Top 128