We’ve finally reached the final week of the regular season for the Football Bowl Subdivision teams in college football. As far as the local teams, it appears that LSU and Southern Miss are going bowling this holiday season.
We all know the success surrounding the Tigers this year. They had a high ceiling entering the season this year. And good for Southern Miss for securing a return trip to the post season, something it hasn’t done in two seasons. This will be the third bowl game for the Golden Eagles under head coach Jay Hopson.
But I want to focus on both Ole Miss and Mississippi State, who are not having as much success.
In their first year of bowl eligibility – following a two-year ban for academic violations under the two previous head coaches in Houston Nutt and Hugh Freeze – the Rebels will not play in a bowl game this winter as they will fall short of the six-win requirement.
The Rebels had a very young team take the field this year. Expectations may not have been very high for Ole Miss, but Rebel fans have to be pleased with that they saw considering the circumstances.
Freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee — a Hattiesburg native — had his struggles through the air at times, but proved his worth based on his skills as a rusher, including the huge performance in the loss against LSU last week, where he set the single game rushing record for Ole Miss with 212 yards on just 21 attempts. He also recorded four touchdowns in the contest.
It will be interesting to see how coach Matt Luke will handle the quarterback situation next year with fellow freshman Matt Corral battling Plumlee for playing time.
As far as the running backs, what we do know is that the reps freshmen Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy are getting now will really benefit them as they continue to progress in their college careers. And if they can continue to find success, I believe that the running game will be strong for the Rebels.
For Mississippi State, a win Thursday night over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl will make them bowl eligible. However, like the Rebels, the Bulldogs have also faced some questions concerning their quarterback position.
The starting job this season went to graduate transfer Tommy Stevens, who went through some struggles this year only to be replaced by freshman Garret Shrader, who also showed his flaws.
However, like some of the freshmen for the Rebels, I believe the playing time that Shrader got this season will only benefit him.
Another question facing the Bulldogs looking ahead to next year is, who is going to step up and take over as the main running back when Kylin Hill, who leads the SEC in rushing with 1,215 yards, graduates?
The youth movement is in full swing at key positions in both Starkville and Oxford. The main question now is, can it help get the storied programs back to the top of the SEC West? Only time will tell.