SEC Football: Best and Worst-Case Scenario for Every Team in 2015

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Nov 1, 2014; Oxford, MS, USA; Ole Miss Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze reacts after the game against the Auburn Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Auburn won 35-31. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss is obviously talented, but there are certainly some reasons to be concerned. First, the running game was bad in 2014. The Rebels ranked No. 10 in the SEC and No. 73 in the country with just 155.5 rushing yards per game last season. That lack of production on the ground limited scoring opportunities and Ole Miss scored only 28.3 points per game, which was the fourth-worst average in the league.

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The Rebels must also replace quarterback Bo Wallace, who despite Jekyll-and-Hyde tendencies still managed to break Eli Manning’s school record for total offense. Head coach Hugh Freeze is expected to turn to Chad Kelly, who led his junior college team to a national title last season, but who has also had his fair share of off-the-field troubles. If Kelly doesn’t meet expectations, the Rebels could be in big trouble offensively.

Speaking of JUCO transfers, Ole Miss must replace two All-American defensive backs – cornerback Senquez Golson and free safety Cody Prewitt – with two transfer cornerbacks (Mike Hilton is moving to safety). Tee Shepard was a highly recruited transfer in 2014 who missed the season with a foot injury and Tony Bridges was the nation’s top rated JC corner in 2015.

Both are good, but they haven’t played a snap yet, and you never know how a player will react when the ball is snapped for the first time. Also, Golson and Prewitt were two of the most vocal leaders for the Landshark defense – as were the also departed linebacker duo of Serderius Bryant and Deterrian Shackelford.

Finally, the schedule is extremely tough. Ole Miss must play Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Mississippi State all on the road. The Crimson Tide want revenge for last year’s 23-17 upset in Oxford, it’s always tough to get a win in The Swamp, Auburn is the league’s preseason favorite and Ole Miss hasn’t won in Starkville since 2003. Also, the October 17 road game against Memphis is a major trap game that could derail the entire season if the Tigers pull off the upset.

Ole Miss’ Worst-Case Scenario: Rebels fail to take the next step, lose best opportunity at SEC Championship

Next: Best-Case Scenario: Auburn