Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN and is an occasional guest with me on The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.
One of those occasions was with today's program, which is finishing up at the moment but will be available from now to eternity in the on demand section of the free Rebel Sports Radio app for iPhone and Android.
Chris keeps a good handle on the SEC overall, and at a time when predictions for Ole Miss are bleak, his are not bubbly but not as bleak as some others.
Low: “It's going to be a struggle for Ole Miss to get to a bowl game this year, but I would not count that out either. I think if they get off early and get some things going in their direction, they sort of settle that quarterback position and don't give teams as many easy things on defense, I think they have a chance to maybe get to six wins.”
Of course, getting off to a fast start early is entirely doable, and in my opinion it will be an emotional setback if the Rebels do not win three of their four non-conference games, all four of which come before Oct. 1.
I'm not counting a win against Texas. Low isn't predicting one either, but isn't ruling it out.
“It's so important that they gain some confidence early. You open with Central Arkansas, then UTEP, both at home. Then Texas comes in. They really should be 2-0 at that point, and Texas rolls in, Vaught-Hemingway would be rocking. You play well and maybe steal one there, but at that point you want to be no worse than 3-1 going into the Alabama game.”
A road trip to Tulane follows Texas on the schedule.
Most Ole Miss fans I've spoken with are not counting on a bowl game this season.
It has been my contention that this team really needs to break the SEC losing streak. It's hard to call a losing season a success, and the Rebels would have to have multiple SEC wins to avoid that.
But there are different levels of disaster. You can have a losing season, play and compete well in some of those losses, and have a feel-good experience. Yes, the term “moral victories” comes to mind here. It's not what any team strives for, but what this program needs at the end of 2012 is to have a strong sense of belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that the end of wilderness is near.
The feel-good experience coupon is good for 2012 only. A winning season and bowl game should be a much more realistic goal in 2013 if the proper steps in rebuilding are taken this season.
Here's Low on the task of breaking the SEC losing streak: “If you can build some confidence that first month of the season, then I think Texas A&M in Oxford is certainly winnable, I think Auburn in Oxford is certainly winnable. Then they get a break before they finish out that last stretch which is really, really difficult. You've got Arkansas, Georgia, Vandy, LSU. If you're going to get one you want to get one in that first stretch, before you go into that final stretch, and I like their chances against A&M and Auburn, those back-to-back home games in October.”