Ole Miss may be peaking at the right time.
Ole Miss sits 8-4, after yesterday's whipping of their archrival Mississippi State 45-0, in front of Capital One representatives, who came away impressed.
They are currently ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll, but after yesterday look to move up into possibly the top 20 in both polls.
So, you ask, why should the Capital One Bowl select the Ole Miss Rebels, a team not even thought to be in contention until the past weeks, into the Capital One Bowl to meet, more than likely, the Ohio State Buckeyes?
Allow me to state my case.
SECSports.com states that once the BCS bowls select their SEC teams (which more than likely will be Florida and Alabama), the Capital One Bowl now selects and selects a team with the next best record or a team within one win of that next team.
Ole Miss faced tough challenges Saturday to even become to this point. They needed help from Clemson to defeat South Carolina so that they wouldn't become 8-4 (within one game of Georgia and a win over Ole Miss) and for, most notably, Georgia Tech to defeat Georgia to pull Ole Miss within one game and to become eligible for the Capital One Bowl.
Needless to say, the stars aligned for Ole Miss to have a chance at Orlando.
The Capital One Bowl now has a big decision to make. Do you go with the big name that's lost two out of its last four games, or do you go with the underdog Ole Miss, who hasn't reached a bowl since 2003, but has reeled off five straight wins.
In my opinion, Ole Miss deserves the Capital One Bowl for several reasons:
First, Ole Miss is one of the hottest teams in the country. They have blown out their last three opponents (ULM, LSU, and Mississippi State) by a combined 135-13. Ole Miss has grown up over the past five weeks and has proven that they are no pushover as they once have been.
Once 3-4, Ole Miss has won five straight over Arkansas, Auburn, ULM, LSU, and Mississippi State. Georgia has two out of their last four, most notably to Florida, 49-10.
Speaking of Florida, when you take a look at their 10-1 current record, the 1 represents Ole Miss's win in Gainesville over Florida. Ole Miss's four losses have combined by a total of 19 points.
Georgia has lost their three games by a combined 53 points. Ole Miss defeated Florida and was on a last minute drive to defeat Alabama, games Georgia didn't even come close to winning.
Now, if we're to talk about fan support, you could assume that Ole Miss would sell out the Capital One and invade Orlando. Ole Miss has had a +5 win difference from last year and love to travel, as in 2003, they filled up the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma State rather easily.
Georgia, the preseason No. 1 team, will be very disappointed on following their national title hopes and will unlikely be excited about playing in a non-BCS bowl game.
If we're talking about a team that comes in with confidence, why can't you go with Ole Miss? They have an explosive team led on offense with Texas transfer QB, sophomore Jevan Snead, senior WR Mike Wallace, and do-it-all Wild Rebel QB Dexter McCluster, and All-American OT Michael Oher.
You could argue that the front four for Ole Miss is one of, if not the, best in the country. They contain two future projected first rounders in Greg Hardy and Peria Jerry.
They produced a school record 11 sacks against Mississippi State yesterday and -51 rushing yards (no that's not a typo, that's a negative) and kept LSU monster back Charles Scott to 10 yards on 10 carries.
Overall, if we're talking about who's going to play the better game, due to confidence, recent play to finish the season, and talent, I think at this point you have to point to Ole Miss.
Although Ole Miss lost to Vanderbilt and South Carolina, they needed time to grow up and get the train rolling and have proven they are an SEC contender and at this point in the season, better than Georgia.
A couple of different scenarios going Ole Miss's way (Sam Swank missing GW FG, Dexter McCluster doesn't fumble in the red zone vs. South Carolina), and we'd be talking about Ole Miss at 10-2.
This team, in my eyes, as I've watched all of their home games, has really grown up over the past couple weeks and has shown they're ready for the big stage. If we're talking about teams, and not names, Ole Miss has got to be in Orlando in January.
Derek Stephens is the Ole Miss Community Leader for BleacherReport.com. Please leave feedback or comments below in the comment box.
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