SEC: Ole Miss Rebels

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A breakdown of LSU's 10-7 upset win over Ole Miss on Saturday night.

How the game was won: Defense. LSU held Ole Miss to 313 offensive yards and got two critical stops in the final two minutes. The first came with 1:44 remaining on a fourth-and-1 try in which the Tigers stuffed the Rebels, and the second came with two seconds left when, instead of trying a 47-yard field goal, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze elected to try one more play. The Tigers made him pay for the decision. LSU senior safety Ronald Martin intercepted a pass from Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace with two seconds left to seal the upset win.

Game ball goes to: Leonard Fournette. The true freshman running back, who was the No. 1 recruit in the 2014 class, came up big after Terrence Magee left the game with an injury. Fournette finished with 113 yards on 23 carries, including some critical runs in LSU’s final scoring drive. He even got his face mask ripped off by an Ole Miss defender, but his work on the last scoring drive help set up the game-winning score. Give the LSU defense a ton of credit also for keeping the Tigers in it even though they turned the ball over four times.

What it means: We have a big shakeup near the top of the rankings and in the College Football Playoff race. Previously undefeated Ole Miss (7-1, 4-1 SEC) will drop and LSU, a team that is in the midst of what many have called a "rebuilding year" seems to be getting stronger. The Tigers (7-2, 3-2 SEC) have now won three in a row and are building momentum.

Playoff implication: Ole Miss’s chances take a hit. How much of a hit? We’ll find out when the playoff selection committee’s rankings are released on Tuesday. But a team that once controlled its own fate no longer does.

Best play: Without a doubt, the play that sealed the win for LSU ... Martin intercepting Wallace:

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What's next: Ole Miss must regroup quickly as it returns home to Oxford to host No. 5 Auburn a week from today. LSU has an open date next week and doesn’t return to the field until Nov. 8 when it hosts No. 4 Alabama in Baton Rouge.

Video: Lee Corso's pick -- Ole Miss-LSU

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
12:32
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Lee Corso makes his prediction for No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 24 LSU.

Video: Bo Wallace's unconventional journey

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
11:39
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Under the tutelage of head coach Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has taken an unconventional journey to playing his way into the Heisman conversation.

Five storylines for Ole Miss-LSU

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
1:00
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- No. 3 Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 SEC) has its national championship hopes intact as it travels to face No. 24 LSU (6-2, 2-2) on Saturday, but the Rebels have won just once at Tiger Stadium in their last six visits.

Ole Miss is the rare road team to be favored over LSU at Death Valley, however, and it will take the best game of the season from the Tigers' erratic offense in order to pull the upset.

With an assist from ESPN's Stats & Information group, here are five storylines and trends worth watching Saturday:

[+] EnlargeOle Miss
Joe Murphy/Getty ImagesBased on ESPN's efficiency score, Ole Miss is on pace to be the most dominant defense in the last decade.
Dominant Rebels defense: A quick glance at the SEC's weekly statistical leaderboard makes it clear that Ole Miss boasts arguably the conference's top defense. The Rebels lead the league in scoring defense (10.6 ppg), rank second in total defense (290.6 ypg) and run defense (97.1 ypg) and are fourth in pass defense (193.4 ypg, plus 15 interceptions, which ties for the most in the FBS).

But even those gaudy numbers don't adequately explain how dominant the Rebels have been. ESPN's 19.43 defensive efficiency score (points per game that the defense adds to Ole Miss' scoring margin through contributions like forcing turnovers, preventing points and ending drives) for the Rebels' defense is the best in the nation. Not only that, Ole Miss is on pace for the best score of any defense in the last decade.

The Rebels have scored four defensive touchdowns and lead the nation with 90 points off turnovers, so it will be incumbent on LSU's offense to take care of the ball -- the Tigers have just nine turnovers this season -- because it's hard enough to beat Ole Miss without giving away free points. Opposing offenses have scored just six touchdowns against the Rebels this season, another FBS best.



Good Bo/Bad Bo: For most of his career, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has been plagued by inconsistency, leading to the popular narrative that there is a "Good Bo" and a "Bad Bo." Bad Bo hasn't made an appearance in SEC play this season, however.

Wallace has yet to commit a turnover in an SEC game and is on pace to break multiple Ole Miss season passing records. He is averaging 237 passing yards, 1.75 touchdowns and no interceptions through four SEC games thus far.

In two starts against LSU, Wallace has passed for 656 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions and has rushed for 72 yards and two scores.

Keep an eye on whether Wallace enjoys success as a runner Saturday. LSU has done a better job against mobile quarterbacks lately, but it has allowed 58.3 rushing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, seventh-most in the nation, and an SEC-worst 15 runs of 10 yards or more by QBs. Wallace averaged 38.3 rushing yards per game in the last three games.

Fourth-quarter QBs: Wallace and LSU's Anthony Jennings have had their moments in the fourth quarter. Wallace, in fact, has been one of the nation's best QBs in the final period.

His fourth-quarter Total QBR (90.7) leads the SEC, and he is tied for the nation's best touchdown-to-interception differential (6-0) in the fourth quarter.

Jennings hasn't been particularly effective in any quarter -- his overall 49.3 QBR ranks 81st among FBS QBs -- but he succeeded on crucial drives at the end of wins against Wisconsin and Florida. Jennings is 10-for-23 for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter with an average of 23.5 yards per completion.

Mixed bag on third down: Both defenses are effective on third down, with LSU tying for fourth in the FBS by forcing 34 three-and-outs this season. Ole Miss is tied for 10th with 30.

Jennings and the LSU offense haven't been particularly successful on third down, however. The Tigers' worst outing came against Auburn -- when freshman Brandon Harris started at quarterback and LSU went 0-for-13 on third down -- and overall LSU has an SEC-high 30 drives that ended with a three-and-out. Only seven FBS teams have more, and Ole Miss has just 19.

Looking ahead: Last week's 41-3 win against Kentucky was big in many ways for LSU. Not only did it help the Tigers get back to .500 in SEC play, but it removed the pressure of achieving bowl eligibility.

That's a big deal since ESPN's Football Power Index rates the Tigers' remaining schedule as the toughest in the FBS. Beyond facing Ole Miss (which ranks third in the FPI), LSU will face Alabama (second), Arkansas (20th) and Texas A&M (18th).

Ole Miss' schedule is more manageable, although it still must host Auburn (first), Presbyterian (FCS) and Mississippi State (fifth) and visit Arkansas (20th).
Back when freshmen were ineligible and you could count teams’ offensive plays on one hand, the annual clash between Ole Miss and LSU was one of college football’s premier games.

Respect mixed with vitriol, along with heart-stopping plays and gut-wrenching defeats.

"Go to hell, LSU!" is still screamed during the national anthem at Ole Miss -- no matter the game.

Iconic coaches, such as Ole Miss’ Johnny Vaught and LSU’s Paul Dietzel, roamed the sidelines and national championships were sometimes on the line.

What’s now called the Magnolia Bowl still has deep meaning for Rebels and Tigers, as these two have played 102 times, including every year since 1945.

Saturday’s nighttime showdown in rebuilt Tiger Stadium has this rivalry buzzing again. ESPN’s "College GameDay" will be in the house for No. 3 Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 SEC) and No. 24 LSU (6-2, 2-2).

[+] EnlargeBilly Cannon
Louisiana State/Getty ImagesBilly Cannon's punt return against Ole Miss in 1959 is still perhaps the biggest play in the rivalry's history.
This marks the first time since 2003 that the teams will meet as ranked opponents, and it’s the first time since 1961 that Ole Miss is ranked higher than LSU when both have been ranked.

“It’s not just gonna be another game,” legendary LSU player and coach Jerry Stovall said. “It’s going to add to the lore of playing on Saturday night live in Tiger Stadium.

“Part of [the stadium] is brand new; I’m not sure it won’t come down. It’s gonna be one of the most exciting games and hard-fought games in Tiger Stadium in a long, long time. No matter who wins it, they’re gonna get bloodied.”

The meat of this rivalry came in the late 1950s and early 1960s. From 1958-63, five games were played in which both teams were ranked in the top six. Ole Miss was undefeated entering four of those games, LSU twice. Only once during that time did a team enter the game with more than one loss -- 1960, when 1-4 LSU tied No. 2 Ole Miss 6-6 in Oxford.

“There was a time when the Ole Miss game meant more than any other to the LSU people,” said Bud Johnson, former LSU sports information director and current director of the Jack & Priscilla Andonie Museum at LSU. “You could get more of the LSU-Ole Miss ticket than any other if you were in that business.”

It was also special because of proximity and the fact that LSU really didn’t a true in-state rival. It was nothing for Ole Miss fans to hop over the border into Louisiana. Getting folks from Jackson -- which is halfway between Oxford and Baton Rouge -- Brookhaven, Natchez and McComb to Louisiana was easy.

Games were colossal, and tickets were hot. You could get a Cadillac in the classifieds for four tickets, and eight tickets on the 50-yard line got you a camp on the False River.

People knew each other – players and fans. Families are split and relationships tested, making this game last 365 days.

“Two rabid fan bases with so much on the line for both teams,” said Langston Rogers, who worked in Ole Miss’ athletic department for 29 years before retiring in 2010. “That’s what made it so special.”

With Ole Miss dominating the series with Mississippi State and LSU not playing Alabama or Auburn on an annual basis, it became a heated, evenly contested rivalry game.

There was the nail-biting 14-12 Ole Miss victory in 1957, and No. 1 LSU slipping by sixth-ranked Ole Miss 14-0 in 1958 -- a game in which LSU’s Billy Cannon used his summer-job paycheck to buy an entire section inside Tiger Stadium to take tickets away from Ole Miss fans.

You had LSU’s 7-3 win in 1959, thanks to Cannon's famous/infamous 89-yard punt return for a touchdown and a goal-line stand (triggered by another Cannon play) on a hot, muggy Halloween night.

The play, which runs on loop in Baton Rouge this time of year, still haunts Jake Gibbs, Ole Miss’ quarterback from 1958-60 and who punted to Cannon, because he was trying to punt the ball out of bounds. Instead, Cannon corralled it at the 11 and made his way through just about every Ole Miss player before scooting past Gibbs toward the end zone and the Heisman Trophy.

“God, you know, he went through about five or six tackles really kinda on his own,” said Gibbs, who was actually heckled by LSU fans about the play when he later became Ole Miss’ baseball coach. “By the time he got to me … I couldn’t do anything but hit him up high. Of course, you can’t bring him down hitting him up high.”

[+] EnlargeOle Miss Rebels
John Korduner/Icon SportswireOle Miss knocked off LSU last year on a field goal with two seconds left.
But did it feel good to have sweet Sugar Bowl redemption over LSU a couple months later with a 21-0 win?

“Damn right,” Gibbs said.

Dietzel called the Tigers’ 10-7 comeback win in 1961 arguably his greatest game. A year later, Vaught led sixth-ranked Ole Miss to a 15-7 win over No. 4 LSU in Baton Rouge.

There was Doug Moreau's two-point conversion catch for an LSU win in 1964 and Archie Manning directing back-to-back comeback wins for the Rebels in 1968 and 1969. Of course, there was “The Night the Clock Stopped” in Baton Rouge in 1972 when Brad Davis’ one-handed catch came with one second left gave LSU a fabled 17-16 win and prompted people to leave signs at the Louisiana state line that read, “You are now entering Louisiana. Set your clocks back four seconds.”

“There was not a year when you had one or two good players on each team,” said Stovall, who went 1-1-1 as a player against Ole Miss. “This was a group of years – an era – where the coaching could not have been any better, the players could not have been more in number at that high of a level, and the fans responded to the excellence that they saw.”

Eli Manning tripped in 2003 with the SEC West on the line, and Les Miles didn’t see the clock in 2009. You had Zach Mettenberger’s mercy kneel with five minutes left in 2011 and Ole Miss fans storming the field in 2013.

You have ranked foes and top-named coaches in Miles and Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze standing in the shadows of Dietzel and Vaught. The hype and bite are back.

“It’s a lot of fun now,” Gibbs said, “and I think you’re going to see a many more good, heated games between Ole Miss and LSU.”
In a league that features rivalries like Auburn-Alabama, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Alabama-Tennessee and Florida-Georgia, Ole Miss-LSU typically flies under the radar.

Go back a few decades in the history books, though, and you'll see that it's more than mutual dislike between two party-hearty fan bases that makes the Magnolia Bowl one of the SEC's top rivalry games.

Here is what helped the series become one of the conference's best:

Billy Cannon and the '60s: The programs had been playing for decades and frequently played close games, but their rivalry truly took off when Billy Cannon returned a punt 89 yards for the only touchdown in No. 1 LSU's 7-3 win over No. 3 Ole Miss on a misty Halloween night in 1959.

Cannon's return is generally viewed as the most famous play in LSU history, and it likely secured that season's Heisman Trophy and turned Tigers-Rebels into a heated annual showdown that would dominate the next decade.

The teams met up again to end the 1959 season and the outcome was reversed, with No. 2 Ole Miss shutting out No. 3 LSU 21-0 in the Sugar Bowl and earning the national championship from three polling firms afterward.

A nine-game stretch between 1958 and 1965 made Ole Miss-LSU one of the top rivalries of that time period, with Johnny Vaught's Ole Miss claiming three national titles (1959, 1960, 1962) and Paul Dietzel's LSU one (1958). The teams won four games apiece and tied once, and in five of the nine games, both teams were ranked in the top 10.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the craziest games of that era, when LSU won 11-10 in 1964 by electing to go for a two-point conversion after a fourth-quarter touchdown, and quarterback Billy Ezell hitting Doug Moreau with a successful two-point pass.

The Night the Clock Stopped: Although the rivalry faded from the national picture in the 1970s, it was still a big deal in 1972 -- particularly because of what happened in the closing seconds of No. 6 LSU's 17-16 win over unranked Ole Miss.

Ole Miss was 4 seconds away from a 16-10 upset when LSU quarterback Bert Jones took a snap at the Rebels' 10-yard line and threw an incomplete pass to Jimmy LeDoux. Somehow -- and Ole Miss fans still maintain that LSU benefited from some home cooking here -- the clock showed 1 second remaining after the incompletion. On the next play, Jones hit running back Brad Davis with a touchdown pass that helped the Tigers escape with a 17-16 victory.

Disgruntled Rebels fans famously posted a sign afterward at the Louisiana-Mississippi border that read, “You are now entering Louisiana. Set your clocks back four seconds.”

Modern-day history: Probably the main reason that the series isn't frequently recognized among the SEC's best is that it hasn't been as nationally relevant in recent years as it was in its heyday.

Unbeaten Ole Miss enters Saturday's game as the nation's No. 3 team and LSU is No. 24. But only once in the previous 43 years -- in 2003, when they met with an SEC West title at stake -- have both teams been ranked at kickoff. That 2003 game was an instant classic, with No. 3 LSU prevailing 17-14 over No. 15 Ole Miss en route to a BCS championship. The Tigers dodged a bullet in that one, with Rebels kicker Jonathan Nichols missing a 36-yard field goal in the closing minutes and Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning tripping over a teammate's foot to go down on the Rebels' final offensive play.

The reduction in national relevance doesn't mean the series lacked drama, however. In each of the last two meetings, the victor scored the winning points in the final 15 seconds.

Odell Beckham helped LSU tie the 2012 game with an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter before Jeremy Hill ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 15 seconds remaining to earn a 41-35 win. Then last season, LSU stormed back to tie the score at 24 after trailing 17-0, but Rebels kicker Andrew Ritter booted a 41-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining to give the Rebels a 27-24 upset victory.

Five times in Les Miles' first nine seasons at LSU, the Magnolia Bowl was decided by seven points or less. Ole Miss enters Tiger Stadium as the favorite, but if this series has taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected when the Tigers and Rebels meet.

SEC viewer's guide: Week 9

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
10:00
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A look ahead to Saturday's games in the Southeastern Conference. All times Eastern:

Noon

UAB at Arkansas, SEC Network: Bret Bielema will have to wait at least one more week before notching that first SEC victory, but after three straight losses, this Arkansas team needs a win in the worst way. It’s not like the Razorbacks are playing poorly. Even Saturday, after falling apart in the first half, they didn’t give up. They responded in the second half and outplayed Georgia the final 30 minutes. That first conference win is coming. In the meantime, Arkansas can’t afford to overlook UAB. The Blazers put up 34 points on No. 1 Mississippi State earlier in the season, so they’re at least capable of getting in the end zone.

[+] EnlargeDak Prescott
AP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisDak Prescott threw for 268 yards and ran for 33 last season in a 28-22 home victory over Kentucky.
3:30 p.m.

No. 1 Mississippi State at Kentucky, CBS: What happened to Kentucky? This game was shaping up to be one of the biggest games in program history – a top-25 matchup, a chance to take down the No. 1 team in the country – and then it all fell apart at LSU on Saturday. Losing close is one thing, but the Wildcats were dominated in Death Valley. The good news is that they can still take down No. 1 this weekend as this will be Mississippi State’s first game since taking over the top spot. For the Bulldogs, it’s a chance to prove they’re worthy of No. 1 and it’s another opportunity for Dak Prescott to shine in front of a national audience.

4 p.m.

Vanderbilt at Missouri, SEC Network: A week after everybody left Missouri for dead, the Tigers are back in the SEC East race and rolling after a 42-13 win at Florida. The defense feasted on the Gators’ offense, forcing six turnovers and taking two back for touchdowns. That’s bad news for Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary, who will be making his first start for the Commodores. In his first action since the season opener, McCrary went 10-of-16 for 169 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday against Charleston Southern. But that was Charleston Southern. This is Missouri. Good luck Mr. McCrary.

7:15 p.m.

No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 24 LSU, ESPN: Don’t assume that Ole Miss is going to just go to Baton Rouge and handle its business. Yes, the Rebels have arguably the top defense in the SEC. And yes, they’re ranked No. 3 for a reason. But winning on the road at LSU is no easy task. Just ask Les Miles, who is 45-4 as LSU coach in night games at Tiger Stadium. There’s something special about when the sun sets over Death Valley. So don’t be surprised if this game is close in the fourth quarter, and it’s up to Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace to make a play. Wallace did account for more than 350 yards and four touchdowns at LSU two years ago.

7:30 p.m.

No. 4 Alabama at Tennessee, ESPN2: Thank you, Lane Kiffin, for infusing a little life back into this rivalry. He made it interesting back in 2009 when his Tennessee team nearly knocked off the eventual national champs, and he’s doing it again this year with his return to Knoxville as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. You can bet the fans will be a little more rowdy in welcoming Kiffin back to Neyland Stadium on Saturday. But despite all the hoopla surrounding Kiffin, there’s still a game to be played. Alabama comes in as a heavy favorite, and the Vols could be in trouble if quarterback Justin Worley isn’t able to play.

South Carolina at No. 5 Auburn, SEC Network: Gus Malzahn admitted this week that he wears a visor every game because of Steve Spurrier. That’s how much respect and admiration he has for the Head Ball Coach. On Saturday, Malzahn will face Spurrier for the first time as a head coach in a game that Auburn has to win for its playoff hopes. The Tigers are coming off a loss to Mississippi State, and this is their first of four SEC games in four weeks. Meanwhile, South Carolina has not delivered on the preseason hype. A top-10 team before the season, the Gamecocks are barely above water at 4-3.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Football coaches and players discuss the importance of winning the turnover battle, the words can almost ring hollow. But when LSU players say they must protect the football Saturday against Ole Miss, it's more than just an empty football cliché.

The No. 3 Rebels (7-0, 4-0 SEC) have an uncanny ability to swing games by creating turnovers at key moments.

"Their defense are ball hawks," LSU receiver Travin Dural said. "If you're giving your offense the ball on the opponent's side of the field a lot, they're going to score, and that's what they've been doing. We're going to try our best to flip the field as much as we can."

No. 24 LSU (6-2, 2-2) has turned the ball over only nine times this season, and it might need to maintain that trend on Saturday if it is to have any chance of upsetting the Rebels. Not only does Ole Miss lead the nation with 90 points off turnovers, but it has been remarkably consistent.

The Rebels have either scored a defensive touchdown or created a turnover to take control of the contest in each game this season:
  • They were up 14-6 in the fourth quarter of the opener against Boise State when Tony Conner intercepted a pass at the Broncos' 40-yard line. Two plays later, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace hit Quincy Adeboyejo with a 31-yard touchdown pass to go up 21-6.
  • Cornerback Cliff Coleman returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown in Ole Miss' win against Vanderbilt.
  • Cornerback Senquez Golson -- who leads the SEC and is second nationally with seven interceptions -- had a 59-yard pick-six against Louisiana-Lafayette.
  • Ole Miss led Memphis 10-3 a few minutes into the fourth quarter when Ole Miss freshman Marquis Haynes forced a Paxton Haynes fumble that Issac Gross recovered at the Memphis 23. Rebels running back Jaylen Walton ran for a 23-yard touchdown on the next play to put Ole Miss up 17-3.
  • The score was tied at 17-all against Alabama when Crimson Tide return man Christion Jones fumbled a kickoff and Ole Miss' Kailo Moore recovered at the Alabama 31 with 5:29 to play. Five plays later, Wallace hit Walton with the game-winning 10-yard touchdown pass.
  • All-American safety Cody Prewitt returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown and Keith Lewis returned a Kenny Hill fumble 21 yards for a score in the Rebels' win against Texas A&M.
  • Last week against Tennessee, the Rebels were up 17-3 in the third quarter when Volunteers return man Evan Berry fumbled and Haynes recovered at the UT 28. Wallace hit Evan Engram with a 28-yard touchdown pass on the next play to go up 24-3.

In other words, this is a well-established habit for the Rebels, and the Tigers understand that protecting the ball will be particularly important on Saturday.

"We pride ourself on not turning the ball over in the backfield," running back Terrence Magee said. "We work ball security every day before we get into the core of practice, and it's just something that we work on a routine basis. We realize that if we don't turn the ball over and we win the turnover margin, our chances of winning are much greater."

LSU has won or tied in turnover margin in every game this season except last week's 41-3 win against Kentucky. The Tigers have actually been extremely effective themselves at turning takeaways into points, outscoring opponents 72-7 following turnovers -- a differential that ranks third among FBS teams. Only Oregon's plus 79 (79-0) and Ole Miss' plus-71 (90-19) points-off-turnovers margins are better.

LSU has also capitalized off opponent miscues, as the Tigers' game-winning scores against both Wisconsin and Florida came after fourth-quarter interceptions by Jalen Mills and Rickey Jefferson.

That creates a competition of sorts between an LSU secondary that prides itself as being one of the best in the nation and a group of Rebels defensive backs who are tied for the FBS lead with 15 interceptions.

"You could say that," Jefferson said, "but we're looking to be on top. That's what we're trying to do as DBs."

LSU's defensive backs could accomplish that goal by capitalizing on mistakes by Wallace, and he hasn't made many this season. Ole Miss' senior quarterback has tossed six interceptions overall and none in SEC play.

Just as important will be avoiding the back-breaking offensive mistakes that set up short drives for Ole Miss. Understandably, that has been a point of emphasis for the Tigers this week.

"Just end every drive with a kick," Dural said. "Try not to make those mental mistakes to where we give them the ball with a short field."

OXFORD, Miss. -- The last time Ole Miss went to LSU, in 2012, it had no business being in the game. The Rebels were 5-5, playing on the road against a Top 10 team. But when they took the lead in the fourth quarter, first-year coach Hugh Freeze began thinking to himself about what a win would mean for this team and this program if they could hold on.

“I found myself thinking about a statement that Coach [Johnny] Vaught had made when he was here about beating LSU in Baton Rouge: ‘You’ve never truly really coached the Rebels until you’ve beaten LSU in Baton Rouge,’" Freeze said. "I thought that for a minute and tried to get back in the moment because there was way too much time left.”

Shortly after that thought crossed Freeze’s mind, Odell Beckham Jr. returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. It all changed in the blink of an eye. With less than a minute left, LSU scored another touchdown to win the game.

But as Freeze looks back on that night, it’s not necessarily a bad memory. In fact, he says it’s one of the more enjoyable games he’s ever coached in.

“We were super competitive, right there in it,” Freeze said. “Had it not been for a punt return, who knows what the outcome would have been. But I had a blast.”

Quarterback Bo Wallace also remembers the game fondly. Despite three interceptions, it was one of his best performances that first season at Ole Miss. The then-sophomore threw for 310 yards, rushed for 54 yards and scored four total touchdowns. His 30-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief was what gave the Rebels the lead in the fourth quarter.

“I remember the atmosphere,” Wallace said. “We were playing really well. We were young and really didn’t realize what we were doing. To us, it was almost like a moral victory that we went into LSU and we played against those guys the way we did with all of the NFL talent they had on their team.”

Wallace wasn’t kidding either. LSU had nine players taken in the NFL draft after that season, including six defensive players selected in the first three rounds.

But that was then. This is now.

This season, the roles have reversed as the teams prepare to play Saturday. Ole Miss is the Top 10 team, ranked No. 3 nationally, and LSU is the young team with nothing to lose. Ole Miss has the nasty defense full of NFL talent, while LSU has an offense that’s still improving with every game.

The mindset has changed, too. The Rebels are no longer interested in moral victories.

“We don’t talk about going to play anybody close right now,” Freeze said. “We want to get a plan together and prepare like we’re going to win. Hopefully we’ll have a chance in the fourth quarter to do so.”

“When we go down there, we’re going to expect to go in and win a football game,” Wallace added. “There aren’t any moral victories or we go down there, play well and feel good about it. We go down there fully expecting to win.”

That’s easier said than done in this rivalry. The Rebels have lost five of their last six games in Baton Rouge, and current LSU coach Les Miles is 45-4 in night games played at Tiger Stadium.

There are also a number of Ole Miss players, including the entire 2013 recruiting class, who have yet to play in Death Valley. They were a part of the thrilling victory in Oxford last year, but they don’t know what it’s like to play the Tigers on the road.

“I heard about stuff being thrown at you, a lot of words coming at you that I can’t repeat,” sophomore tight end Evan Engram said. “With this rivalry and the tradition that this game holds, I know the stands are going to be rocking and there’s going to be some crazy stuff the fans are going to be doing. But it’s going to be fun.”

For Freeze and the players who were there in 2012, the only way this year’s game is going to be fun is if Ole Miss leaves town with a victory.
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Only six weeks of the regular season remain. And while the SEC has separated contender from pretender to this point, the jockeying for conference supremacy is far from over. The odds of anyone going undefeated are slim. In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Information, there’s a 36 percent chance all seven teams in the West finish with two or more losses. With that backdrop in mind, let's take a look at which playoff hopefuls have the easiest and toughest roads ahead.

Smoothest sailing

Georgia and Mississippi State have it relatively easy. According to ESPN Stats & Info, their remaining strength of schedule rank 43rd and 47th, respectively.

Georgia survived a tough early season game against Clemson, and despite falling on the road at South Carolina has gotten right back on track. With Florida down, Kentucky coming back down to earth and Georgia Tech fresh off back-to-back losses, the only real test remaining is a Nov. 15 showdown with Auburn -- and that game comes in Athens. Of all the contenders in the SEC, the Dawgs are the only ones with just one game against a ranked opponent remaining.

[+] EnlargeThompson Mississippi
Joe Faraoni/ESPN ImagesThe remainder of Mississippi State's schedule ranks as relatively easy compared to the rest of the SEC.
Mississippi State, meanwhile, is on a good track after beating a slew of ranked teams in LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn. Now comes a bit of a breather with Arkansas followed by UT Martin. There's a road date with Alabama on Nov. 15, but then it's on to lowly Vanderbilt the week before the Egg Bowl versus rival Ole Miss.

Roughest waters

Between Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss, it’s hard to say who has it worst. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Alabama has the weakest remaining strength of schedule of the three, but the Tide rank 21st nationally in that category. Auburn comes in at No. 16 and Ole Miss No. 14.

Anecdotally, it's hard to argue against Auburn having the most brutal remaining schedule in the SEC. The Tigers, having already played Kansas State, LSU and Mississippi State, get South Carolina, Ole Miss and Texas A&M in the next three weeks. Then it's on to Georgia, and two weeks later there's a trip to Alabama. Of the five SEC teams still in playoff contention, Auburn is the only one with three ranked teams left to play.

Ole Miss doesn't have it much easier, though. The Rebs go to LSU on Saturday, which is never an easy task. And while Presbyterian and a bye week provide a breather, finishing in consecutive weeks with Arkansas and Mississippi State will be a physically taxing challenge.

Alabama will feel the Rebs' pain, though. The Tide travel to Tennessee this Saturday, followed by a much needed week off. But after that comes a trip to LSU and then a home date with Mississippi State. Two weeks later, it’s Auburn coming to town.

Where we’ll settle things

The final weekend in November could be utter mayhem. In a good way.

With all due respect to Georgia-Georgia Tech, that Saturday will be all about two rivalry games in the West. In the Iron Bowl and Egg Bowl, we could find out a) who will play in the SEC championship game in Atlanta and b) who will present their case to the selection committee as a non-title winning candidate.

It's conceivable Auburn beats Ole Miss and Mississippi State loses to Alabama. If that's the case and everyone is tied at one loss, then it becomes a matter of tiebreakers.

To win the division, Alabama would have to beat Auburn and have Ole Miss lose to State. Auburn would need the opposite. State, on the other hand, would need to beat Ole Miss and have Alabama lose to Auburn. And just because it's only fair, Ole Miss would need the exact opposite scenario to play out.

The only thing that could make that better is if both games were played simultaneously.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Hugh Freeze is 1-1 against LSU since arriving at Ole Miss. Aside from the close finishes -- the victor scored the game-winning points in the final 15 seconds in both years -- there was another common thread from those games: Freeze's offense moved up and down the field with great success.

Behind two solid games from quarterback Bo Wallace, the Rebels are averaging 31 points and 494 yards of total offense against John Chavis' LSU defense under Freeze.

"We're coming out here to try to prevent that," said LSU safety Rickey Jefferson, whose No. 24 Tigers (6-2, 2-2 SEC) enter Saturday's game against No. 3 Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0) as the underdogs. "Every game we never plan to fail, so when they do do things like that, it's kind of shocking. That means we have to go back in the lab and do some more work, which we did even after this win [against Kentucky last Saturday]."

[+] EnlargeBo Wallace
Spruce Derden/USA TODAY SportsBo Wallace passed for 346 yards in the Rebels' 27-24 upset of LSU last season.
But how can the Tigers go about preventing another big night for the Rebels? It starts with limiting the damage that Wallace inflicts with his arm and legs.

Wallace is averaging 328 passing yards in two starts against LSU -- games where he tossed two touchdowns and three interceptions -- plus he has run 22 times for 72 yards and two more scores. His dual-threat ability probably concerns LSU fans who saw Mississippi State's Dak Prescott and Auburn's Nick Marshall gash Chavis' defense, but the Tigers have fared better against versatile quarterbacks in recent games.

Florida's Jeff Driskel had an up-and-down game against LSU and Kentucky's Patrick Towles -- who doesn't get enough credit for his running ability -- failed to produce much of anything on the ground.

"One thing we adapted to is keeping the pocket contained because all these dual-threat quarterbacks, they're going to try to run up the middle on QB draw or something like that," defensive end Danielle Hunter said. "So it's all about containing the pocket and compressing the pocket, staying in our gaps."

Wallace still runs on occasion -- he has 67 attempts for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season -- but Ole Miss mostly relies on its senior quarterback to produce in the passing game these days. He's averaging 271.3 passing yards per game and has been uncharacteristically turnover-free for the most part, tossing 17 touchdowns against six interceptions.

As in past seasons, the Rebels have other players who rotate in to handle specialty packages at quarterback, like former LSU signee Jeremy Liggins, a 300-pound tight end who occasionally takes snaps in short-yardage situations.

"That definitely gives us tendencies. For like last game, whenever the quarterback motioned out, you know it's going to be some kind of run or reverse," Hunter said of Kentucky, which utilizes a "Wildcat" package with Jojo Kemp and others taking direct snaps. "So this game, we're expecting the bigger quarterback, [Liggins], whenever he goes in it's going to be some kind of short-yardage or some kind of power play."

Another key factor on Saturday will be third-down conversions, said LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White. The Rebels sustained several long drives by going 11-for-18 on third down on the way to running 84 plays and totaling 525 yards against the Tigers in a 27-24 upset win.

"[Wallace] was picking us apart on third down. He was making excellent reads and pretty much picking our defense apart," White said. "I feel like he was making great decisions with where he was going with the ball and he was very confident in his receivers and they were making big-time plays for him. We'll try to limit that this year."

LSU has done a better job of limiting what opposing offenses hoped to accomplish in recent weeks after Mississippi State and Auburn both embarrassed the Tigers' defense. Ole Miss doesn't bring the SEC's scariest offense into Tiger Stadium -- the Rebels rank eighth in the SEC in both scoring (35.4 ppg) and total offense (433.3 ypg) -- but the Rebels' defense has been so good that Chavis' bunch probably can't afford to be as generous against Ole Miss as it has been in the last two seasons.

Reviewing film of last season's loss in Oxford has made that point abundantly clear.

"We watched a lot of film. We watched the whole game last year probably twice," Jefferson said. "I would think that the thing that we have to do to come out here and get these guys would be to execute and do everything that Coach Chief [Chavis] tells us and don't be out of place, make tackles, break on balls and hustle and give enthusiasm the whole game. It's going to be live."
ShackelfordJason Getz/USA TODAY SportsStarting middle linebacker D.T. Shackelford is the unquestioned leader of the Ole Miss defense.

OXFORD, Miss. -- Deterrian "D.T." Shackelford sat in one of the Ole Miss football offices Monday and talked about all the things he had done since he arrived at Ole Miss in 2009. He also talked about all the things he still wanted to do.

Shackelford, a rare sixth-year senior, has already received his undergraduate degree in liberal arts and his Master's degree in higher education. He's been on mission trips to Panama and Haiti. He eventually wants to get his Ph.D. and become a college athletic director, but not before he tries his luck in the NFL.

"There's a lot of different stuff I want to do, but I do still want to put on my cleats," the veteran linebacker said with a laugh.

There was a time, though, when some thought Shackelford would never put on his cleats again.


Determination and hard work have always come second-nature to Shackelford.

Former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt still remembers the first time he visited Shackelford's high school. The high school coach told Nutt that this was the hardest-working player he's ever had. Nutt heard that from a lot of high school coaches, but when he saw Shackelford go through a workout, he thought to himself, "My goodness, this guy is something else."

"It's real simple," Nutt said. "I think anybody will tell you: There's not going to be one that gives more effort. There's not going to be one that cares about his teammates, about his school, more than D.T. Shackelford."

[+] EnlargeMississippi's D.T. Shackelford
AP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisD.T. Shackelford, above watching Ole Miss' 2011 spring game, missed two seasons with a torn ACL.
The Alabama product eventually signed with the Rebels, and in his first two years, he was one of the better players on their defense. He earned freshman All-SEC honors and led the team in sacks as a sophomore.

That next spring, Shackelford's playing career took a wrong turn. He was doing simple position drills in practice when he tore his ACL. It wasn't part of the plan. He'd have to sit out at least five months, which meant he wouldn't be back until the middle of the season.

"It was crazy because I had never been injured," Shackelford said. "I had never really faced an injury, especially an injury of that magnitude. All the time in football you get nicked and bruised up. 'I'm alright. I'm alright. Put some dirt on it, you'll be alright.' But that one I wasn't alright."

"He was down, but he just kept telling me, 'Coach, you know I'm going to be back,'" Nutt said. "I said, 'Oh yeah, there's no doubt in my mind that you'll be back.'"

The only problem is that Shackelford didn't come back, at least not under Nutt. He re-tore the same ACL five months later and wouldn't play in a game until 2013. He missed two full seasons with the injury.

"Of course you question it," Shackelford said. "You wonder, 'What is going on?' But I've always been assured that when God has his hands on you, he has the plan, not me. I was able to get to a point where I accepted the situation for what it was and was able to move on."

It was at that point when he realized that football can be taken away at any time. It's temporary.

But rather than sulk and feel sorry for himself, Shackelford made it a point to help his teammates. He never missed a practice. He never missed a game. He became a leader off the field with what he said, how he acted and how he carried himself.

"Nobody really looked at me as D.T. Shackelford the football player then," he said. "It was D.T. Shackelford the person."


When Hugh Freeze arrived at Ole Miss in December 2011, Shackelford had just reinjured his knee. The first-year coach didn't know Shackelford, but when it came time to award the Chucky Mullins Courage Award the next spring, Freeze knew to whom he was giving it.

[+] EnlargeD.T. Shackelford's knee
Greg Ostendorf/ESPND.T. Shackelford is left with a permanent reminder of the two seasons he lost because of a pair of torn ACLs.
In fact, in the three years Freeze has handed out the award, Shackelford has made history twice. In 2012, he was the first junior to receive the honor, and this past spring he became the first repeat winner.

"We could talk all day about the qualities that should be represented with wearing that jersey that Chucky wore and what qualities make up the right guy." Freeze said Monday. "But one thing I know about the right kind of people is that they finish. I don't think anybody can debate that one. That doesn't mean they don't fall off cliffs, fall down or make mistakes. But you get up and you finish. I think D.T. models that pretty dang well."

It wasn't easy, but Shackelford will finish his football career at Ole Miss. And it's only fitting that he's wearing Mullins' No. 38 his final season. It's also fitting that the Rebels are having one of their best seasons in school history.

Shackelford is the starting middle linebacker and the unquestioned leader for a defense that ranks top five in almost every category. His nicknames might range from "no knees" to "grandpa" to "old head," but his teammates understand how important he is to that unit.

"Shack's our emotional leader," cornerback Mike Hilton said. "He's the one that keeps us going. Even if he doesn't make a play, he's the first one to come over, jump and get rowdy. He's a crowd favorite, so I'm happy to have him on this side."

Ole Miss is currently ranked No. 3 and is one of only three Power 5 unbeaten teams left, but when Shackelford talked Monday about the things he still wanted to do, winning a national championship didn't come up.

It wasn't because he doesn't want to win one or because he doesn't think the Rebels can. He's just focused on the next game and thankful to be playing in it.

And after what he's been through, how can you blame him?

SEC playoff tracker: Oct. 22

October, 22, 2014
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There were no major changes made to this week’s playoff tracker. Ole Miss, Alabama and Georgia all proved why they are contenders with big wins this past Saturday while Mississippi State and Auburn enjoyed the week off.

Here’s a look at where the five remaining SEC contenders stand heading into Week 9.

Mississippi State
Record: 6-0 (3-0)
AP rank: No. 1
Next big obstacle: Nov. 1 vs. Arkansas

Reason for optimism: The Bulldogs seem to be in good shape in coming off a bye week and facing Kentucky, which fell back to Earth with a 41-3 loss to LSU on Saturday. Mississippi State should cruise to a win that would help its remaining Western Division games against Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss grow increasingly important in the divisional and national title pictures.

Cause for concern: If their record remains spotless and their Western Division title hopes hinge on a win against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, the Bulldogs will have to win that pivotal game on the road. Mississippi State has a 1-6 record in Oxford in the 2000s. The Bulldogs’ lone win came in 2010, when No. 25 MSU edged Ole Miss 31-23.

Who they’ll be rooting for this week: LSU over Ole Miss.

-- David Ching

Ole Miss
Record: 7-0 (4-0)
AP rank: No. 3
Next big obstacle: Oct. 25 at LSU

Reason for optimism: The Rebels are on an absolute role right now. They’re second in the SEC in total defense (290.6 yards allowed per game) and have held opponents under 200 yards three times this season. Quarterback Bo Wallace is averaging 271 yards per game and has thrown 17 touchdowns to six interceptions.

Cause for concern: The Rebels are still in the SEC West, and road trips to LSU and Arkansas loom. Oh, and Ole Miss ends the season at home with No. 1 Mississippi State. The running game hasn’t been very explosive at all this season, ranking 11th in the league (151.3 yards per game).

Who they’re rooting for this week: Kentucky over Mississippi State.

-- Edward Aschoff

Alabama
Record: 6-1 (3-1 SEC)
AP rank: No. 4
Next big obstacle: Nov. 8 at LSU

Reason for optimism: After hearing all week how they were slipping following a loss to Ole Miss and a narrow win at Arkansas, the Crimson Tide came out Saturday on fire, throttling Texas A&M 59-0. It was a complete performance that said Alabama is right in the thick of the playoff conversation.

Cause for concern: Consistency is going to be the biggest challenge for this young Alabama team. Playing well at home is good, but now it must prove it can take the show on the road. First up its a trip to Tennessee and two weeks later it's on to Death Valley and LSU.

Who they’ll be rooting for: It's a bit of a double-edged sword for Alabama seeing as you never want to face an LSU team with growing confidence, but it would do the Tide some good to see the Bayou Bengals upset Ole Miss this weekend.

-- Alex Scarborough

Auburn
Record: 5-1 (2-1)
AP rank: No. 5
Next big obstacle: Oct. 25 vs. South Carolina

Reason for optimism: Despite losing to Mississippi State its last time out, Auburn is still the No. 1 team in ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). The Tigers will enter the second half refreshed after having this past weekend off, and they also get back safety Jermaine Whitehead who was reinstated to the team Tuesday.

Cause for concern: We won’t know if the bye week fixed all of Auburn’s problems until we see the Tigers in action this Saturday, but they need to play much better than they did against Mississippi State if they expect to win out. The other bad news is that winning out might be their only option for making the playoff.

Who they’re rooting for this week: Auburn would love to see LSU take Ole Miss down a notch before it travels to Oxford a week from Saturday.

-- Greg Ostendorf

Georgia
Record: 6-1 (4-1)
AP rank: No. 9
Next big obstacle: Nov. 1 vs. Florida (in Jacksonville, Fla.)

Reason for optimism: Well, there really doesn’t seem to be a true competitor in the East. The Dawgs embarrassed Missouri in Columbia and Kentucky got trounced in Baton Rouge. Nick Chubb has been an absolute star in place of Todd Gurley, rushing for 345 yards and three touchdowns as the starter in the last two games.

Cause for concern: Chubb has been great, but you still have to wonder how durable the freshman really can be if he keeps carrying the ball as much as he has (68 carries in two games) with Gurley still sidelined. Also, the East is just bad, so what happens when the Dawgs face a team from the West? Hello, Auburn on Nov. 15.

Who they’re rooting for this week: South Carolina over Auburn

-- Edward Aschoff

SEC Freshman Tracker: Week 8

October, 22, 2014
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Although Georgia’s Nick Chubb is the headliner for a second straight week after another ridiculous performance, this week’s SEC freshman tracker is heavy on defense -- including a couple of defensive linemen who have already emerged as breakout performers.

Here are five SEC true freshmen who stood out last Saturday (and five more worth mentioning):

RB Nick Chubb, Georgia

What he did:
Chubb continued to give Todd Gurley the Wally Pipp treatment by carrying 30 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 45-32 win at Arkansas. He also caught a pass for an 8-yard gain. In the last two games, Chubb has run 68 times for 345 yards, and the Bulldogs have blasted Missouri and Arkansas on the road.

What it means: If and when Gurley returns to the lineup, he will obviously resume carrying the Bulldogs’ running game. But with the one-time Heisman Trophy frontrunner suspended and Sony Michel and Keith Marshall out with injuries, Georgia desperately needed Chubb to produce, and he has exceeded every reasonable expectation.

DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

What he did:
Barnett logged his first game with double-digit tackles, recording 10 in a loss to Ole Miss, and also notched four tackles for loss and two sacks. The game wasn’t particularly competitive -- Ole Miss won 34-3 -- but Barnett clearly ranked among the Volunteers’ top defensive performers.

What it means: He hasn’t been getting the same kind of attention as Texas A&M freshman Myles Garrett, but Barnett might catch up soon. All of a sudden he’s second in the SEC with 9.5 tackles for loss, along with 38 tackles and three sacks.

DE Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss

What he did:
In the Rebels’ win against Tennessee, Haynes finished with five tackles, 2.5 sacks and his first career fumble recovery. That continued a dominant recent run in which he has totaled 4.5 sacks in the last two games.

What it means: Haynes leads arguably the SEC’s top defense with 7.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He also leads the SEC with three forced fumbles. The Rebels already have a star-studded defense, and Haynes is quickly adding another name to the list of players to watch.

S Jamal Adams, LSU

What he did:
The Tigers’ highest-rated defensive signee in a well-regarded 2014 recruiting class, Adams had his best game yet in a win against Kentucky. He finished with a career-high eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack, plus he delivered the key block that sprung Tre'Davious White for a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown.

What it means: Simply put, the energetic Adams is showing why those around the LSU program believe he is the next Eric Reid at safety. He is the Tigers’ leading tackler on special teams and is already a leader on their nickel and dime defensive groupings.

S Dominick Sanders, Georgia

What he did:
Sanders started at safety for the seventh straight game and scored for the first time in his college career when he picked up a Brandon Allen fumble and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown. Sanders’ touchdown just before halftime gave Georgia a 38-6 halftime lead.

What it means: Sanders, who also made four tackles against Arkansas, has been one of the more reliable performers in Georgia’s depth-deprived secondary. The Bulldogs still have plenty to clean up on pass defense, but the overall defense continues to make progress under first-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Other notables:

WR Kendrick Edwards, Arkansas: Caught a 4-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as the Razorbacks attempted a late rally against Georgia.

QB Treon Harris, Florida: Rotated at quarterback with Jeff Driskel and finished 8-for-12 for 98 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and also rushed eight times for 26 yards.

RB Jalen Hurd, Tennessee: Ran 13 times for 40 yards and caught two passes for 19 yards in a loss to Ole Miss.

WR Josh Malone, Tennessee: Caught five passes for 75 yards in a loss to Ole Miss.

WR Speedy Noil, Texas A&M: Caught four passes for 32 yards and returned six kickoffs for 106 yards in a loss to Alabama.

SEC Heisman Watch: Week 8

October, 21, 2014
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There's no denying that with his team's No. 1 ranking, undefeated record, wins against Top 25 teams and his own performance, Mississippi State's Dak Prescott is still the top contender for the Heisman Trophy from the SEC and, so it seems, he is the national favorite at the moment, depending on where you look (Oregon's Marcus Mariota is getting some love as well, lately).

[+] EnlargeAmari Cooper
Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY SportsAmari Cooper caught eight passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Texas A&M.
But when it comes to SEC candidates, Prescott, the league's best quarterback on what is currently the league's best team, is the front-runner. Perhaps we should be paying some attention, however, to the league's best receiver: Alabama's Amari Cooper.

We've had this conversation before. Earlier this season, particularly after his 10-catch, 201-yard, three-touchdown performance against Florida, Cooper's name began to emerge as one deserving of Heisman Trophy candidacy.

Well, in case you forgot about Cooper after two less productive weeks (one in which he was hampered by an injury), he reminded us all on Saturday why he is the standard in the league at his position.

Cooper was dominant in Alabama's 59-0 win against Texas A&M: eight catches, 140 yards, two touchdowns. The Aggies had no answers for Cooper, whom quarterback Blake Sims looked toward early and often in the game. He's big, fast, physical and extremely productive. He has been outstanding this season, with five games of at least 130 receiving yards and 908 receiving yards total, which ranks fourth in the country.

So while Prescott (whose team was off last weekend) remains the league's premier option currently and we continue to await word on what will happen with suspended Georgia running back Todd Gurley, perhaps we should keep a closer eye on Cooper moving forward.

Here are three other players to keep an eye on:

  • Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss: Wallace wasn't pristine this week (13-of-28, 199 yards), but he was still turnover-free and threw two touchdowns to guide the Rebels to a win over Tennessee. He is averaging 290.7 offensive yards per game in SEC play, while throwing nine touchdowns and zero interceptions in Ole Miss' four conference wins. He is third in the league in passer rating (163.0) and second in passing yards (1,899) and touchdown passes (17).

  • Josh Robinson, RB, Mississippi State: The Bulldogs were off this week but Robinson has no doubt been an excellent weapon to pair with Prescott this season. He's second in the SEC with 689 rushing yards and yards per carry (7.0) and tied for second with eight rushing touchdowns.

  • Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: We don't know when Gurley will come back as he has missed the last two games, suspended by Georgia while it investigates allegation whether he profited from signing autographs. Even though he sat the last two games, he still leads the SEC in rushing yards (773), yards per carry (8.2) and is tied for second in rushing touchdowns (eight). The longer he's out, the more his chances are hindered, but for now, we'll keep him in the watch.

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