Cleveland On This Past Week in Football

Notes, quotes and an opinion or two while considering the fact that Ole Miss gave up 629 yards and 41 points to Southern Illinois and still won by 35 points…

You don’t see that happen every day. But we must also consider the fact that the Rebels this Saturday will face No. 1 ranked Alabama, a decidedly different animal. Also consider: Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has thrown the ball 10 times on third down in the Crimson Tide’s first two games. He has completed all 10 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns.

And consider this: If Ole Miss doesn’t play better defense this Saturday, Alabama may never face a third down.

Little wonder the Rebels are a 20-point underdog. As this is written, an over-and-under point total betting line has not been set. You ask me, 75 sounds about right. Alabama should score almost at will, and I don’t see anybody, even Bama, shutting down this Ole Miss offense.

•••

Don’t be surprised if sometime soon you see Brett Favre in another TV commercial, this time wearing a Louisiana-Monroe baseball cap. Yes, Louisiana-Monroe.

Favre and Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, former Green Bay Packer teammates, were both on hand for the ULM-USM game last Saturday in Hattiesburg. Favre proposed a bet that Pederson accepted. If USM won, former ULM star quarterback Pederson would wear a USM cap at his regular Monday press conference in Philadelphia. If ULM won, Favre would wear some sort of Warhawk apparel on one of the seemingly hundreds of TV commercials in which he appears.

You know what happened. USM turned the ball four times, including one for a touchdown, and lost 21-20.

Pederson’s son, Josh, plays tight end for ULM, and Pederson’s Eagles had defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night, which made it possible for Doug Pederson to attend the game in Hattiesburg. Pederson was Favre’s backup in Green Bay for seven seasons. They worked out together, watched films together, hunted and golfed together. The two talked about their close friendship with USM announcer John Cox before the game.

Pederson talked about having Favre address his team on the Saturday before the Super Bowl.

“Brett tends to go on and on, so I asked him to hold it to 10 minutes. He took five,” Pederson said. “It was perfect.”

“Something worked, it turned out pretty good,” Favre said, laughing.

Cox noted that Pederson and Favre both won championships in their second year of coaching. (Favre was a volunteer offensive coordinator at Oak Grove High two seasons.)

“Yeah, that’s a great comparison,” Favre quipped. “Doug won the Super Bowl, the world championship. We won the state high school championship.”

I got a chance to ask Pederson one question. “No,” he answered, smiling, he would not trade former Mississippi State standout Fletcher Cox for any defensive lineman in the league.

I wouldn’t either. Yazoo City’s Cox, 27 years young and already a three-time Pro Bowler, dominated the line of scrimmage, despite almost constant double teams, in the Eagles opening night victory over the Falcons. Said Pederson, “He just took over the game at the end,” said Pederson. He did.

•••

Kentucky had lost to Florida 31 straight times — thirty-one. Reagan was president the last time the Wildcats had beaten the Gators. Galen Hall was the coach at Florida. Jerry Claiborne was the Kentucky coach. “It ended,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said after Kentucky beat the Gators 27-16 at The Swamp Saturday night. “The streak had nothing to do with tonight’s game.”

No, blocking and tackling did. Kentucky just whipped Florida, out-rushing the Gators 303-128.
Seems to me as if the team Mullen left behind at Mississippi State is clearly better than the one he inherited at Florida. We don’t have to wait all that long to find out. State, 2-0, hosts the Louisana Ragin Cajuns this Saturday, then Florida the next. I’d make State, a 31-point favorite over ULL, a double-digit favorite over Florida if they played tomorrow.


Email syndicated columnist Rick Cleveland at rcleveland@mississippitoday.org.

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