Wednesday, August 25, 2010
It happens nearly every year for teams in college football. There's one game coaches and fans point back to as the key game of the past year.
Prefect example: Last season Ole Miss had a top-five ranking traveling to unranked South Carolina for a nationally televised game. On a hot and muggy September night in Columbia, the Gamecocks defense dominated the Rebels offense in a 16-10 loss.
What if South Carolina hadn't exposed the Rebels' offense? Would they have beaten Auburn or Mississippi State? Ole Miss might have gotten enough offense to upset Alabama if they could have figured a way to gut out a win at South Carolina.
Here are the key games in 2010 that Mississippi teams need to win to reach their goals this season:
Ole Miss Rebels: The first part of the Rebels' season sets up nicely, with four of their first five games at home. Ole Miss should win its opener against Jacksonville State before its lone road game against Tulane, which should be a win.
Fresno State comes to Oxford between two winnable home conference games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Ole Miss has the talent to be 5-0 at their bye week before they travel to play Alabama and Arkansas in back-to-back weeks.
The key game for the Rebels this season is at home against the Auburn Tigers. If Ole Miss is 5-0 but drops the Alabama and Arkansas games, they need to beat Auburn to end a losing streak and get bowl eligible with six wins.
Mississippi State Bulldogs: The Bulldogs have one of the toughest road schedules in the country. Mississippi State travels to play LSU, Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss.
If the plan at MSU is to go to a bowl game this season, it has to win home games against Memphis, Alcorn State, and UAB. It also must upset two of the following four at home: Auburn, Kentucky, Georgia, and Arkansas.
That would get the Bulldogs to five wins, making their key game a road trip to play Houston. A win over the Cougars would get MSU to the magical mark of six wins with a chance at a bowl game.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles: USM wants to be a force in Conference USA again this season. This is doable for the Eagles since East division foes UAB, UCF, Memphis and Marshall all look to be down.
Southern Mississippi has tough games against Houston and Tulsa in its conference, but both are winnable. The key game will be an October home meeting against East Carolina.
The Pirates have been the class of C-USA the past few years, winning two of the last three conference titles. Beating East Carolina would signal a changing of the guard if the Eagles want to rise to the top of C-USA again.
Jackson State Tigers: Jackson State wants SWAC titles, and if the Tigers are going to get one, the team must win the key game against Alabama A&M. The Bulldogs are the preseason pick to win the Eastern division with the Tigers in second.
Alcorn State Braves: The Braves were picked to finish third in the SWAC's Eastern division. Alcorn State's key game will be against Texas Southern. A win over the team predicted third in the west could signal the Braves are ready to contend.
Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils: Valley will find out if it can contend quickly with a home game against Alcorn State in the third game of the season. That makes the Braves the key game for the Devils this season.
Delta State Statesmen: Delta State suffered its lowest win total last season since 2002. The Statesmen's key game will be against last season's GSC winner North Alabama.
Millsaps Majors: The Majors finished in second place in conference play. A loss against DePauw kept them from a title, making this season's meeting against the Tigers Millsaps' key game.
Mississippi College Choctaws: The Choctaws finished second in the conference this season. Their key game will be against Mary Hardin-Baylor who has been the class of the conference, winning every title since 2005.
Belhaven Blazers: Belhaven was picked to finish tied for fifth place in the west division of their conference this year. The Blazers need a win in the key game against Bethel University to challenge for the conference title.
Ole Miss Quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli cleared to play by the NCAA. The Rebels appealed earlier the NCAA's decision not to give Masoli a wavier to play immediately. Being cleared means Masoli can play this weekend.
- Bryan Flynn
I was really surprised by the NCAA's ruling to reinstate Masoli. Normally, they're pretty stern in sticking by their rulings.
- golden eagle
Golden Eagle, There were too many players who have transfered just to play football. Two that come to mind right way are: Greg Paulus, who played basketball at Duke then transfered to Syracuse after working out for the Green Bay Packers to get a shot at a NLF job. Ryan Smith, who played at Utah and then went to Florida to help Urban Meyer win his first national championship with the Gators. So, how could they say Masoli broke the spirit of the rule.
- Bryan Flynn