Football commentary by HT.com contributor Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo
I’m going to apologize in advance for my next statement because I know for some of our fan base and readership it may be difficult to hear and an opinion that will be hard to swallow. Of course we all dream of that perfect season. We were that close to being untouched and unscathed in Baton Rouge. However, this is football and sometimes we need that loss or that failure to motivate us in the grand scheme of things.
Yes I hate that it had to be LSU in Death Valley that did this to us, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing when you sit back and look at how Ole Miss is set up to finish this season schedule-wise. We still have a chance and damn good one to make the gauntlet of the top four in the nation. If you haven’t seen the first release of the Playoff Committee’s projections, right now we still slide in at No. 4.
If we were going to lose one it needed to be in Baton Rouge. We still have double chances to hold a spot in the playoffs, not to mention to keep that flame of hope flickering for the Rebs. My grandparents used to tell me sometimes to achieve greatness you have to feel loss and failure. If you never know how that feels, then when it happens, you won’t be able to rebuild and recover from it. Same can be said for the Rebs. While we have felt loss and failure before, it hasn’t been amidst a high like we’ve seen this season. So I am saying it here folks. It’s a good thing we lost to LSU because it put us in the ideal situation for a checkmate to overthrow Auburn and MSU. So we just may have lost to the right team and early enough to find that breaking point.
Well now that the tricker treaters have retired, it’s time to make November a month to remember. What a way to celebrate this Halloween weekend with the biggest game of the weekend. Isn’t ESPN GameDay going to miss out, especially since they’ve been diverted to West Virginia? Anyhow, now we head into survival mode and we are sure to see even more intense play from all the teams hoping to make it closer to the eventual Final Four.
First order of business are the odds for this match up. Over/Under: 50.5 Spread: Ole Miss (-3)
By this time of the season, my keys to the game gets shorter which means we are doing well in making adjustments each game. From here on out, it’s about sticking to what works and keeping everything on track and healthy, which is hard to do even for the best of teams especially when you play in the SEC. So bottom line, the defense needs to keep doing what’s it doing going all out for four full quarters. Despite the loss to LSU, these defenders are the real deal. Expect a different dynamic mentally and physically with Denzel’s season-ending injury suffered in Baton Rouge. Of course this is a tough thing to deal with but the Rebels can’t let these things create a mental block or dependency on one player. Hugh and the boys did not get here soley based on one aspect of the game and sure as hell not one player. The worst turn of events is if the Rebels play like they can’t do it without Denzel.
Here’s what’s it’s going to come down to for the Rebs to prevail. The offense must step up and create a balance to match the defense’s intensity. The Rebs are really going to need to establish a run game early and avoid those deadly third-and-longs in what will be a very physical game at Vaught on Saturday. If Ole Miss can get back into the time-of- possession mix early on, this will change the pace in the favor of the Rebels and allow them to control both sides of the ball for the entire game so they stay fresh each quarter.
Rest assured Rebel fans that the Magnolia Miracle is still alive and well here in Oxford. Our situation is not as bad as it could be for us this time of year. We all know what we are used to feeling this time of the season in past campaigns in Ole Miss history. it’s nice to have a change of pace. The Rebels may have found their breaking point in. Baton Rouge, but now that they’re back amidst their Rebel Family. We will pick up the pieces and come back strong.
See y’all at Vaught. Hotty Toddy! Before I forget here are few of my favorite treats for the game. Beer: Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Bourbon: Eagle Rare Cigar: Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share
Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a HottyToddy.com contributor, veteran SEC sports journalist and Brown University graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order.