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Playing Nice: Ole Miss

Red Cup Rebellion’s OneMan2Beat joins us for our favorite annual football preview Q&A segment

Red Cup Rebellion

They’re partying harder than usual (if that’s even possible) in Oxford these days. The baseball Rebs won their first ever national championship this summer—though let the record show needed an LSU man to lead them to the promise land—and now the football team is rolling into Baton Rouge with a perfect 7-0 record and No. 7 next to their name. They’re also in first place in the SEC West and it would be a real shame if the Tigers played spoiler for Ole Miss a la 2014.

Ole Miss week means it’s time to check in with our very good friends at our Ole Miss sister site: Red Cup Rebellion. Joining us as always is my very good friend (though I would never tell him that) OneMan2Beat. Y’all make sure to wish him a hearty “Go to Hell Ole Miss!” in the comments.

1. I’m not congratulating you for baseball.

I would honestly expect nothing less, and your seething rage is noted. In fact, it’s kind of like that Scott Tenorman episode of South Park where Cartman is licking up the tears of his enemy at the end. That’s me, feasting on the tears of unbearable sadness. It’s really as great as I imagined it to be.

2. Speaking of withholding praise, many are saying that while Ole Miss is a good football team, they’re actually massive frauds and nowhere near as good as their #7 ranking indicates. How do you respond to those haters of which there are many?

So I guess I can put it into an analogy to help with understanding. Thibodeaux is walking around the tailgate talking about how great his gumbo is, when almost everybody at the tent knows his roux is always a little overcooked and the chicken kinda fatty because he buys the cheapest he can find. Ole Miss football is like Thibodeaux - there’s some problems and we deep down maybe even know it, but also nobody’s shown up with a finer bowl of gumbo just yet, so we’re enjoying that single digit by our name right now.

3. Okay now on a serious note: the Rebs are currently sitting in first place in the SEC West now that Alabama’s dropped a game. Is the expectation in Oxford now winning the West? Is Lane Kiffin going to have to make it to Atlanta sooner than later?

I think coming into this year fans were more on the “eight wins or more” expectation for this season. Don’t get me wrong, this team could end up only winning eight games with the five game stretch it has ahead of it. The seven game winning streak to open the season certainly has fans in a rarified air in Oxford, but I think most fans know there’s a high chance it all comes crashing down at some point. Now, that may mean a loss to either LSU or Arkansas on the road combined with a home loss to Bama or it could get uglier. I think anyone hoping for a perfect season right now in red and blue is just asking for immense pain. It does seem like Kiffin has caught lightning in a bottle at times this season, but I’m not sure if it’s a “Atlanta or bust” mentality.

4. LSU and Ole Miss were at the top of the transfer portal rankings, and Lane Kiffin’s the self-proclaimed Portal King. LSU and Brian Kelly had to lean on the portal just to field a two-deep, was Ole Miss and Kiffin in the same desperate need? Or are the Rebels just getting ahead of the curve?

Yeah, things would have looked very different without Zach Evans, Jaxson Dart, Malik Heath, Jordan Watkins, Troy Brown, Khari Coleman, et al. Now, I have learned more than anything else in the Kiffin era he really seems to tailor his gameplan around the talent he has on the field, what they can reasonably do, and also what is working. He will abandon the run when needed or abandon the pass when it’s not working. That’s just a sign of a good coach and great playcaller.

5. Some LSU fans are convinced (hoping?) that this year’s game is going to mirror the 2014 game where a top-10 Ole Miss team riding high comes into Tiger Stadium only to have their dreams crushed. Do you sense any parallels between this upcoming game and that 2014 one?

The 2014 game was brutal, and there was some injury stuff going on with Bo Wallace at the time from what I remember. Hugh Freeze is gone now, and I’ll be surprised if he coaches in the SEC as long as Greg Sankey is in charge. But Freeze’s gameplan was terrible that night, it was beyond frustrating, and I’ll never understand why he stubbornly thought he could win a 7-3 game in Death Valley behind his most conservative offensive plan in four years of coaching. So there’s that part of it - Kiffin seems so far to be a very good motivator and gives his teams the heads up that they aren’t really that good and could lose any given week. Once they win, he celebrates with them and acts like a kid, but before the game, I think he really gets them locked in, so I have no doubt the team will be ready to play. The biggest area of concern right now is the stretches of offensive sluggishness this team has had, and this will definitely be the most hostile road trip for this squad so far this season. No doubt in my mind an upset in the making is in the cards.

6. Let’s do a preview by finishing these two sentences:

Ole Miss beats LSU because: the Rebel defense causes two or more turnovers and give the offense a short field. There have been 13 turnovers caused by the defense this year alongside two blocked punts and a blocked extra point. There’s a little bit more of an edge to these units than there has been in the past, and with Jayden Daniels only throwing one interception so far this year, I think turnovers could be a big storyline for an Ole Miss win.

LSU upsets Ole Miss because: an offensive drought by the Rebels allows the Tigers to build a lead or come back from an early deficit. The crowd, filled with bourbon, intensifies as the sun sets on Tiger Stadium and dreams die.