by Jules Gonsoulin
One year ago, the Ole Miss Rebels couldn’t buy a quality win. Their miraculous win against LSU was the highlight of the season, and they still ended up at the bottom of the SEC Western Division rankings. Similarly, Mississippi State spent the majority of the 2013 season unranked and unheard of. MSU’s most valuable victory was over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, which propelled the team to the Western Division ranking spot just above the Rebels. College football has always been a longstanding tradition in Mississippi, but it seems that lately, Mississippi teams have been irrelevant—until this season.
The tables have turned this year. Ole Miss is currently ranked 10th in the AP poll, and 11th in the coaches’poll. The Rebels seemed to get off to a rocky start against Boise State, with their veteran quarterback throwing a handful of interceptions that resulted in a close game for three quarters. However, the Rebels shined late in the game to set the final score at 35-15. Ole Miss then played Vanderbilt and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, winning big in each contest. The Rebels have earned their top 10 ranking, and they are likely to challenge LSU and Alabama for top positions in the SEC West.
Mississippi State was relatively unknown until its matchup with LSU in Baton Rouge this year. State had not won in Death Valley since 1991, yet it dominated every facet of the game. Under the leadership of quarterback Dak Prescott, the Bulldogs terrorized the Tigers for four straight quarters and earned their ranking at 14 in the AP poll.
The inclusion of Mississippi teams in the college football conversation this year is yet another resume boost for the SEC. The SEC is two teams closer to having a conference in which every team can conceivably contend for a college football playoff spot.