Tag:Ole Miss
Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Eye on College Football Midseason Report: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

At the top, midseason 2011 remains the best of times for the SEC. Alabama and LSU have given the conference not one but two highly viable -- some might even say favored -- candidates for a sixth straight national title. It's not even such bad news that one seems all-but-destined to eliminate the other from the title race when they meet in Tuscaloosa Nov. 5; assuming both clear their final hurdles this week, that game should arrive with more hype, more anticipation, more coverage and more viewers than any regular season college football game since Ohio State and Michigan clashed as undefeateds the final week of 2006. From a national title perspective, the SEC has never mattered more.

But anywhere other than the top, these are the worst times for the SEC in a while. A plague of injuries, inexperience, and ineffective coaching has gutted much of the league's offensive bite and turned what used to be riveting battles amongst the league's wealthier-than-thou middle class into glorified slapfights. Take this past weekend: Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina combined for a total of 49 points across two hideous games; lambs-to-the-slaughter Tennessee and Ole Miss lost to the league's top two by a combined 76 points; and Georgia and Vanderbilt played a game most notable for the screaming match between its coaches afterwards. It was ugliness all the way around--and that's with the conference's worst offense, Kentucky, on a bye. 

Alabama vs. LSU should be a classic. And Arkansas, still easily top-10 caliber and as exciting as ever, is blameless. But are the hobbled back-nine of the SEC capable of giving us anything else deserving of that label in 2011's second half?

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama. It's easy to forget Richardson's 2011 season actually got off to a slow start, with only 148 yards on a 3.8 per-carry average through the Crimson Tide's first two games. Since then: five games, 764 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 8.2 yards-per-carry, the sort of per-attempt number starting tailbacks for national title contenders achieve only in video games. It's not just the production, either; Richardson has showed off the proverbial total package and then some, flashing breakaway speed, bone-rattling power, and startling elusiveness, sometimes -- as in his Heisman-reel tour de force against Ole Miss -- all on the same play.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback, LSU. The only serious defensive candidate for the 2011 Heisman, the Honey Badger has stormed onto the national scene on the back of a wave of big plays: the strip-and-fumble-return for touchdown against Oregon, the dazzling interception-and-return-to-the-1 against West Virginia, the sack-strip-and-fumble-return for touchdown against Kentucky. But those game-changing efforts shouldn't obscure what Mathieu does on an every-down basis: namely, lead the nation's No. 4 defense in solo tackles and spearhead the nation's No. 6 secondary in opponent's passer rating.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Les Miles, LSU. Nick Saban obviously deserves commendation as well, but with the ridiculous stockpile of defensive talent in Tuscaloosa and the rock-steady stability of Saban's program, the Tide were never in any danger of not being really, really good. Miles, however, had to navigate a major offseason shakeup of his offensive coaching staff, the Jordan Jefferson barfight brouhaha on the eve of the season (amongst other distractions), and a handful of offensive line injuries to have his team where it is now--atop the AP poll and well on their way to bringing an 8-0 record to Bryant-Denny Stadium.

SURPRISE: Auburn. Few SEC teams have legitimately exceeded expectations in 2011 -- LSU and Vandy are the only other two, frankly -- but none has been as big a shock as the Tigers, who had been predicted by many to sink to fifth (or worse) in the West and general irrelevancy in Year One A.C. (i.e., after Cam). But despite being a Vegas underdog in all four of their SEC games (and scoring 20 points or fewer in their most recent three), a newly-energized defense and timely plays on offense and special teams have Auburn sitting at 3-1 in the league and 5-2 overall. If Miles's and Saban's teams hadn't run so far away from the pack, Gene Chizik would be a hot favorite for SEC Coach of the Year.

DISAPPOINTMENT: Mississippi State. The 0-4 SEC record isn't that bad, honestly; at Auburn, vs. LSU, at Georgia, and vs. South Carolina is a reasonably tough road to hoe. What is that bad is that Dan Mullen's veteran offense has looked so lost, scoring just one offensive touchdown over its last three conference games. This was supposed to be the season Mullen started winning games against the heavier hitters of the SEC, but thanks to his team's offensive struggles, the Bulldogs are now losing games (and in uglier fashion) to the same caliber of team they defeated in 2010.

GAME OF THE YEAR--SO FAR: South Carolina 45, Georgia 42, Sept. 10. Thanks to the lack of offensive fireworks and Alabama and LSU horse-whipping opponents on a weekly basis, candidates for this honor are few and far between, But back in Week 2 the Gamecocks and Bulldogs played a back-and-forth thriller that may still wind up deciding the SEC East. Marcus Lattimore powered for 176 bruising yards, but the player of the game was Gamecock defensive end Melvin Ingram, who scored touchdowns on both defense and special teams and capped his breakout performance by snaring the Dawgs' last-gasp onsides kick. 

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GAME OF THE YEAR TO COME: Alabama vs. LSU, Nov. 5. Do we even have to spell out why? Consider that the average score to-date between one of these two behemoths and an SEC opponent has been 37-8, and the only thing keeping either one from being heavy, heavy favorites to win the league title is the other. With the pair currently ranked No. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings, it's not an exaggeration to think of this as a BCS championship semifinal.

AND YOUR SEC CHAMPIONS ARE: Alabama out of the West, purely on the basis of getting to host the Game of the Century of the Year, and Georgia out of the East--the Bulldogs have far fewer offensive question marks than the Gamecocks and the easier schedule down the stretch. And as for the SEC Championship Game, well, when the best of this year's West meets the best of this year's East, there's only one outcome worth predicting. We like Alabama to win this year's SEC title and advance to the BCS national championship.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Two Ole Miss senior defenders out for year

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you're an Ole Miss fan, you probably entered Saturday's ritualized slaughter against Alabama thinking things would be bad ... but that after losing 30-7 to Vanderbilt earlier in the year, nothing the Tide could do to you would actually make things worse.

Sorry, Ole Miss fan: things have gotten worse. Houston Nutt announced Sunday that senior defenders Wayne Dorsey and Marcus Temple, both of whom left the Alabama game with injuries, will now miss the rest of the season. Both players' Rebel careers are over.

"Two really good players and two captains that have done a lot for us," Nutt said.

Temple broke his right ankle early in the game, while Dorsey fractured his right arm in the fourth quarter.

Both players had taken on pivotal roles for the improved (really) Ole Miss defense this season, and not only in the leadership roles Nutt mentioned. Temple had nabbed two of the team's eight interceptions and was a major part of the Rebel pass defense moving into the top half of the FBS in yardage allowed after finishing 103rd a year ago.

But Dorsey is, almost without question, the even bigger loss. The former JUCO transfer had led the Rebels in both sacks (with three) and tackles-for-loss (five), and not surprisingly was leading the defensive line in tackles as well. As pointed out by the Clarion-Ledger, Dorsey's production had essentially doubled the production from the other defensive end spot.

The Rebels' 2011 season already in a deep, deep hole; at 2-4 overall (0-3 SEC) and with their only remaining conference home games coming against heavy favorites LSU and Arkansas, Nutt faces a steep uphill battle just to hit four or five wins, much less bowl eligibility. And with Temple and Dorsey gone, that hill has now gotten just that much steeper.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:39 am
 

SEC Poll Reactions, Week 7

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.


(AP/Coaches)

1/2. LSU

At this point, the Tigers clearly care more about what's going on in the BCS standings -- where they also rank No. 1, by the slimmest of margins over their  Tuscaloosa rivals -- than in the AP or Caoches polls. But since the AP does crown half of the national championship and the Coaches poll is a full third of the BCS formula and the Harris Poll tends to track both traditional polls closely, no one's going to start ignoring the AP or coaches in Baton Rouge (or anywhere else) anytime soon.

As for those polls' treatment of the Tigers this week, it was mostly the same-ol'-same-ol'; LSU is still No. 1 in the media balloting by a relatively comfortable margin, No. 2 in the Coaches behind Oklahoma, and ahead of No. 3 Alabama in that poll by a slim margin. But worth noting this week is that LSU and Alabama have dramatically closed the gap on the Sooners. Despite Oklahoma still commanding the lion's share of first-place votes (31 to LSU's 15 and Alabama's 12), LSU stands only 16 points out of first place, and Alabama only 7 additional points behind LSU. The 23 points separating the top three teams is nearly seven times smaller the margin between the Tide and No. 4 Wisconsin.

In other words: the way LSU and Alabama are annihilating opponents right now, the Sooners had best not put anything less than their best foot forward if they want to stay atop the Coaches.

2/3. ALABAMA

Aside from the same closing of the gap in the Coaches just described for LSU, it was business-as-usual for the Tide after their 52-7 demolition of Ole Miss. We've said for many weeks that both of the SEC's top dogs deserve to get the nod over the Sooners, since the Tide and Tigers have each been every bit as dominant while playing decisively more difficult schedules than Oklahoma's; it's nice to see the BCS agree.

10/10. ARKANSAS

The Hogs enjoyed a bye week but still moved up a spot in the Coaches, thanks to previous No. 10 Michigan falling from the ranks of the unbeaten. No movement in the AP, though, with teams 1-through-9 all winning. Arkansas remains the second-highest-ranked team with a loss, behind Oregon  ... but shouldn't they be ahead of the Ducks? Both teams' only loss came to one of the LSU/Alabama juggernauts, but while the Hogs have defeated two other top-25 teams in Texas A&M and Auburn, Arizona State is the only Duck victory of note. The Hogs should move up.

14/12. SOUTH CAROLINA

The Wolverines' fall results in the Gamecocks moving up a slot in both polls. But we're not sure anyone who watched Carolina survive Mississippi State by the skin of their teeth truly believes the Gamecocks are one of the top 15 teams in the country. Of the seven collective losses suffered by the polls' consensus top 16 teams, Carolina's is the only one that didn't either come 1. to an undefeated team 2. on the road.

19/23. AUBURN.

With the Tigers' offense still sputtering, the eye test suggests Auburn is ranked about where it deserves to be at 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. But does that give Gene Chizik's team enough credit for its schedule-to-date? Between handing South Carolina its only loss so far (and in Columbia, no less), beating two other middle-of-the-pack SEC teams, and only losing to two top-10 teams at those team's places, it's not surprising the BCS computers call Auburn the nation's No. 14 team.

24 (tie)/unranked. GEORGIA

The Bulldogs reenter the AP poll at its very bottom, one notch ahead of Penn State. But while we'd like to give the Dawgs credit for losing their two games to a pair of top-15 teams, we think the Coaches have it right in selecting the Nittany Lions instead; PSU has one fewer loss, their win over Iowa is just as impressive as any on UGA's resume so far, and it's not like the Lions' only loss of the season (a 27-11 defeat to Alabama) isn't entirely understandable. 
Posted on: October 16, 2011 2:42 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 7


Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 6.

WINNER: Trent Richardson. On a day when the SEC failed mightily to produce anything resembling a classic game -- of the league's five matchups, two were won in overpowering fashion by its resident pair of 500-pound gorillas, and the other three were all varying degrees of "slopfest" -- Richardson nonetheless delivered a classic performance. The career highs in yards (183 yards) and touchdowns (four) were nice, but lots of running backs can amass gaudy numbers. What made Richardson's night special was the fury with which he punished Ole Miss's defenders on his runs between the tackles, and then the startling elusiveness he flashed once he found the open field; this juke is going to be a staple of highlight reels for weeks to come. The statistic that best reflects Richardson's night? The 11.2 yards he averaged across his relatively meager 19 touches.

With Marcus Lattimore going down with an injury today (more on this in a moment) and Tyrann Mathieu having a quiet day by his standards despite the total domination shown by his LSU secondary (1 pass broken up, 1 tackle, nothing in special teams), Richardson is now the SEC's far-and-away most viable Heisman candidate. And if the Ole Miss game is any indication, his campaign might just be getting warmed up.

LOSER: the SEC East. Thanks to the decline of Mississippi State, the East's record vs. the West isn't quite as lopsided as it was last year. But that doesn't mean the top of the division is any stronger than it was last year; based on the evidence of Saturday, it's even worse. South Carolina scored a total of two touchdowns while wheezing their way to a four-point win over a State team in offensive disarray. Georgia collected four turnovers from Vanderbilt and outgained the 'Dores by nearly 100 yards and still came within one Hail Mary off a receiver's hands from losing in Nashville. And Florida gained all of 194 yards against the nation's 105th-ranked defense at Auburn. Sure, the East champion won't have a prayer against LSU or Alabama, but with two of its title contenders having already lost to Gene Chizik's team and the third barely any less convincing-looking, the East champion might not even be any better than fifth-place in the West. Still.

WINNER: Ted Roof. After his Tiger defense was eviscerated for more than 1,150 yards in just two weeks by Mississippi State and Clemson, Roof was the most unpopular person on the Plains this side of Harvey Updyke. But thanks to the rapid maturation of players like sophomore defensive end Corey Lemonier (three tackles-for-loss, two sacks, four QB hurries vs. Florida) and sophomore cornerback Chris Davis (five tackles, one pass breakup), Roof's unit suddenly looks in much better shape than celebrated coordinating counterpart Gus Malzahn's--and was largely responsible for both Auburn's win in South Carolina and over Florida Saturday. The Gators' quarterbacking woes no doubt helped, but short, quick running backs like Chris Rainey have given Roof's defenses fits in the past. In the present, Rainey was bottled up to the tune of just 33 yards on 16 carries.

LOSER: South Carolina's offense. Let's get the obvious out of the way first: if Lattimore's injury keeps him out for any extended length of time, that's a massive, massive blow for the Gamecocks. Players of the big sophomore's ability simply aren't replaceable in midseason (if ever), and Carolina doesn't have much depth behind Lattimore to begin with; his substitute against the Bulldogs was true freshman Brandon Wilds, who entered the game with all of eight career carries. 

But there's even more worries for Steve Spurrier past his running back situation. Connor Shaw's explosive performance against Kentucky looked like a mirage after he threw for an average of just 5.5 yards on his 28 attempts, with two interceptions; his banged-up offensive line opened holes for just 2.6 yards a carry, two weeks after Lattimore averaged less than 4 vs. Auburn; and Alshon Jeffery continues to be nearly invisible, collecting the game-winning TD vs. State but just four other receptions for all of 20 yards. If Spurrier can't fix things -- and likely do it without Lattimore -- his team may not win again until the Citadel visits on Nov. 19.

WINNER: Rueben Randle. Is anyone happier about Jarrett Lee's late-career renaissance than LSU's No. 1 receiver? The former five-star struggled to make an impact his first two years in Baton Rouge, but with Lee at the controls Randle has become one of the league's biggest deep threats. After 5 more receptions for 86 yards and a score against Tennessee, Randle is averaging an even 19 yards per reception--the best mark in the SEC for any receiver with more than 20 catches for the year.

LOSERS: Anyone who tuned away from Georgia-Vanderbilt. Though it was too sloppy by half to qualify as a good game, the ending of Bulldogs-Commodores was as wild as any game in the SEC this season. Up 33-28, the Dawgs drove deep into Vandy territory and looked to have the game salted away before Aaron Murray was picked off by Casey Hayward at the Vandy 2 with 2:30 to play. But Jordan Rodgers was only able to drive the 'Dores to their own 25 before being picked off himself with 1:10 left. The Bulldogs weren't able to run out the entire clock, though, and had their punt blocked, almost returned for a game-winning touchdown, and eventually recovered by Vandy at the Bulldog 20 with 7 seconds left. Rodgers' Hail Mary hit a falling Chris Boyd in the hands, but Boyd was unable to bring it in, and one final desperation play fell short ... after which Vandy head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham nearly sparked a brawl by angrily yelling at each other at midfield. 

Not a bad bit of drama for a game the few people who were watching potentially turned off once Georgia went up 33-21 early in the fourth quarter.

LOSERS: Gamblers who took South Carolina to cover the 3.5 points against Mississippi State. The Gamecocks' voluntary safety on the final play of the game -- reducing a four-point margin to two and flipping the result of the game against the spread -- cost worldwide bettors as much as $30 million, according to one report. We're skeptical the numbers for your run-of-the-mill SEC game run quite that high, but we'd still advise Spurrier not to walk down any dark alleys this week.

WINNERS: Hearts belonging to fans of Alabama and LSU. While fans in Columbia and Auburn and Athens and Starkville have all had their turns reaching for the blood pressure medication (Auburn's more than once), those in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge haven't had to worry. After winning their two games Saturday by a combined 90-14 score, the Tide and Tigers have now won their eight total SEC games by an average score of 37-8. The closest call? LSU's 19-6 "escape" at Mississippi State, which at the time was viewed as a disappointment for the Bulldogs.

Now, we're wondering if maybe they ought to put up a plaque to commemorate the achievement.


Posted on: October 15, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 9:09 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 2 Alabama 52, Ole Miss 7

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ALABAMA WON: Another week, another de facto scrimmage for the Tide against SEC competition. After spotting the Rebels a 7-0 lead, the Alabama defense barely gave their hosts another sniff of the end zone, denying Ole Miss any penetration deeper than the Alabama 35-yard line until the lead had ballooned to 45-7. Trent Richardson had another huge night, running 17 times for 183 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 30 yards on 2 receptions for good measure. AJ McCarron continued his excellent play, hitting 20-of-25 for 225 yards and no interceptions.

WHY ALABAMA WON: Because the meteor discussed in this space midweek never showed up. Or, more specifically, the Tide's overwhelming advantage in talent, depth, and coaching at virtually every position on the football field. When the total yardage numbers read Alabama 629, Ole Miss 141, things aren't that complicated.

But to leave it at that is to do a disservice to Richardson's incredible night, which even his eye-popping, career-high numbers don't do justice to. This begins to:

Alabama would defeat Ole Miss, and defeat them easily, even if they just had a roster full of Nick Saban's typically solid four-star rank-and-file players. That they can go on the road and blow the Rebels out of their own stadium is due to the superstars like Richardson.

WHEN ALABAMA WON: In lieu of making a "the day Ole Miss and Alabama were assigned to the same SEC division in 1992, mandating that today's game would be played some 19 years later" joke*, let's just watch Richardson's juke again, this time in .gif form:


WHAT ALABAMA WON: 
The right to host Tennessee for the right to advance to Nov. 5's Game of the Century of the Year against LSU undefeated. Dismissing the Rebels with the kind of ease that gave the Tide's starters all the rest they wanted was a nice bonus Saban will no doubt appreciate.

WHAT OLE MISS LOST: Actually, given that quarterback Randall Mackey didn't look utterly lost in his first start against SEC competition -- making several strong plays with his legs and generally looking more in-control than Zack Stoudt ever did -- tonight might be a net overall positive. Well, the final was 52-7. We said might be.

HTs: Kegs' n' Eggs, Gifulmination.com.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:45 pm
 

Game day weather updates, Week 7

Remember how nice the weather was last week? It might be even better Saturday. Temps are still getting cooler, yes, but there's sun basically everywhere, and we will tolerate no complaints about 60s and sunshine over the majority of the country. Not when we all know what arctic hell awaits in the coming months. As always, all times eastern.

Noon kickoffs

No. 11 Michigan at No. 23 Michigan State, 12:00, East Lansing, MI: Low 50s, partly cloudy

Indiana at No. 4 Wisconsin, 12:00, Madison, WI: Low 50s, partly cloudy

No. 20 Baylor at No. 21 Texas A&M, 12:00, College Station, TX: Upper 60s, clear

No. 15 South Carolina at Mississippi State, 12:20, Starkville, MS: Upper 60s, clear

Afternoon kickoffs

No. 1 LSU at Tennessee, 3:30, Knoxville, TN: Upper 60s, clear

No. 12 Georgia Tech at Virginia, 3:30, Charlottesville, VA: Upper 60s, clear

Ohio State at No. 16 Illinois, 3:30, Champaign, IL: Low 60s, clear

No. 6 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Texas, 3:30, Austin, TX: Low 80s, clear

Evening kickoffs

No. 2 Alabama at Ole Miss, 6:00, Oxford, MS: Mid 70s, clear

No. 5 Boise State at Colorado State, 6:00, Fort Collins, CO: Low 80s, clear

No. 19 Virginia Tech at Wake Forest, 6:30, Winston-Salem, NC: Upper 60s, clear

No. 8 Clemson at Maryland, 7:00, College Park, MD: Upper 50s, clear

Florida at No. 24 Auburn, 7:00, Auburn, AL: Upper 60s, clear

No. 17 Kansas State at Texas Tech, 7:00, Lubbock, TX: Upper 70s, clear

No. 7 Stanford at Washington State, 7:30, Pullman, WA: Low 50s, partly cloudy

Late night kickoffs 

No. 3 Oklahoma at Kansas, 9:15, Lawrence, KS: Upper 60s, clear

No. 18 Arizona State at No. 9 Oregon, 10:15, Eugene, OR: Low 50s, partly cloudy

Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:08 pm
 

SEC: We have three options for 13-team schedule

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With Missouri locked into the Big 12 for another year, the SEC is in turn all-but-locked into a 13-team schedule for the 2012 football season. But as the league is finding out, scheduling with unbalanced divisions is easier said than done.

Larry Templeton, chair of the conference's "transition committee" for Texas A&M's move to the SEC, told the Birmingham News Friday that the league is considering three "conceptual scheduling options" for a 13-team slate. The "least disruptive" plan would be the have the incoming Aggies play four teams from the West and four teams from the East.

The other options, Templeton said, are for the SEC to play the NCAA-mandated intra-division round-robins -- with West teams playing six divisional games and East teams five -- or to simply assign the Aggies eight games regardless of divisional affiliation.

There's a major issue with the divisional round-robin plan, though. "I'm not prepared to say we wouldn't do that," Templeton said. "But mathematically, I don't think it can be done." By which he means that it can't--in a 13-team conference, it's mathematically impossible for every team in a seven-team division to play all other divisional opponents in an eight-game schedule.

The 13-team MAC has worked around this problem by having some members of its seven-team division only play five divisional games, a move that has required an NCAA waiver from the bylaw demanding a round-robin.

Thanks to the math and the "least disruptive" nature of the 4-4 split for Texas A&M, the SEC will likely require that same waiver in the near future. Why would that split be so much less disruptive? Templeton declines to spell it out for the News, but as explained in this blog post at Vanderbilt blog Anchor of Gold, that's the plan which allows the SEC to complete all of the cross-divisional home-and-home rotations that began this year. 

For instance, this week Florida travels to Auburn and South Carolina visits Mississippi State. By assigning the Aggies four West games and four East games (and canceling the new cross-divisional rotations scheduled to start in 2012) the SEC would maintain enough flexibility to keep the return trips like Auburn's to Gainesville and Mississippi State's to Columbia intact.

Per Anchor of Gold, that plan would also necessitate A&M hosting all of their East games and going on the road for all of their West games. Assuming the SEC would limit their travel costs as much as possible (and not send them to Auburn or Alabama, the two most distant West campuses), A&M's initial SEC schedule would look something like: at Arkansas, at LSU, at Ole Miss, at Mississippi State, vs Georgia, vs. South Carolina, vs. Vanderbilt, vs. Florida.

That schedule would be so different from the rest of the West's, there's no question it would damage the division's competitive balance--and cause more than a few complaints if/when it affected which team won the division's eventual championship. But because of the importance of those cross-divisional return games (and the fairness of completing the rotations), it remains the "least disruptive" scheduling path for the SEC ... and the one it's most likely to pursue.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 8:05 pm
 

Ole Miss suspends four for game vs. Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For reasons detailed earlier today in this space, Ole Miss already had a near-impossible task in beating Alabama this Saturday. And now the Rebels have made that task even more difficult for themselves.

Houston Nutt announced after the Rebels' Thursday practice that four players will be suspended for the Alabama game for a violation of team rules: running back Brandon Bolden, offensive linemen Alex Washington and A.J. Hawkins, and receiver Philander Moore.

Moore likely won't be missed; the sophomore has only three receptions this season for a total of one yard. And though a bruising 335-pound second-string senior, Washington likely wouldn't have seen the field without an injury to either Bradley Sowell or Bobby Massie, the Rebels' starting tackles.

But whatever tiny flickering hope the Rebels had for putting together a running game against the Tide may have evaporated with the other two suspensions. Bolden is a decorated senior who'd only recently returned from injury and is easily the Rebels' most powerful runner; Hawkins is Ole Miss's starting center, one with 16 starts in two seasons under his belt. With leading rusher Jeff Scott a poor matchup against the physical Tide due to his smaller stature and Hawkins unavailable, there seems little question the Rebel ground game will be at less than its best--and even its best might not have gotten much accomplished against the Tide.

Which means maybe the most interesting question still to be answered about this game is where on Nutt's locker room motivational chart the four suspended players fall. Could the World of the Uninvested be very far away?



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com