The University of Mississippi Ole Miss Rebels had a good 2015 season, but which may have left some NCAA betting fans wanting more. The Rebels finished with a 10-3 record (6-2 in SEC play), won the Magnolia Bowl, the Egg Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl – and in the process defeating both rivals LSU and Mississippi State in the same season for the first time since 2008 – and are currently ranked 12th in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. However, other people who visit football betting websites would like to see them reach the postseason. The question is can they? And if indeed they can, how?
Reasons Ole Miss can reach the playoffs
Quarterback Chad Kelly. Rebels starting QB Chad Kelly completed 277 out of 425 attempted passes (65.2%) for 3740 yards and 27 TDs, and rushed 427 yards for an additional 10 TDs in 2015. Kelly needs to remain an effective dual threat if he wants to lead Ole Miss to a playoffs spot, but his passing game might suffer without two of his favorite targets; wide receivers Laquon Treadwel and Cody Core were drafted in the 2016 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively. Furthermore, Kelly underwent hernia surgery not too long ago, and it’s between him, his doctor, and his confessor whether he’s at a 100%.
Head coach Hugh ‘Mr.’ Freeze. Coach Freeze is entering his 5th year as the Rebels’ coach, and the 2016 season might just be his biggest challenge yet. In addition to the losses in the offensive line – which needs to be a well-oiled machine to fully serve Kelly’s purposes – the defense is not quite what you’d call an impregnable roadblock, either. It’s up to Freeze to figure out how to fill these holes, and he better show some ingenuity if he wants to “retire at Ole Miss” as he once said.
Improved defense. This is not to say that the defense has improve – which it may have – but that it needs to improve from last season’s 53rd spot in total defense and 36th spot in points allowed.
If these three things come together, then the Rebels will have an NCAA betting chance. But what about the:
Reasons Ole Miss can’t reach the playoffs
Gaps in defense. As pointed out above, the Rebels’ defense is not looking to good compared to last year, and last year’s defense wasn’t all that great to begin with – and it had defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.
Other teams’ big runners. NCAA betting fans will have a hard time imagining Ole Miss’ defense stopping running backs such as the Seminoles’ Dalvin Cook or LSU’s Leonard Fournette.
Schedule. The 2016 season schedule is not going to be kind on the Rebels, which includes games against the aforementioned Florida State Seminoles and LSU Tigers, as well as the Alabama Crimson Tide. Not to harp on it, but Ole Miss defense will have to fight tooth and nail with a lot of firepower before the program can make it to the postseason.