By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Not that long ago, Ole Miss and Mississippi State were a prominent part of the NCAA regional host discussion.
With just six SEC games remaining, the door hasn’t closed on that opportunity for either school – although back-to-back series losses may have the Rebels heading toward the exit.
The Bulldogs are closer to that goal as the state’s SEC teams meet at Ole Miss this weekend. Game times are 6:30 Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Only once in the last five years has the SEC received more than three host sites. That was 2010, when Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, and South Carolina were chosen.
The Bulldogs are in better position to reach that goal, currently fifth in the SEC overall standings a half game behind South Carolina. They end the regular season with a home series against the Gamecocks.
MSU passed Ole Miss in the SEC standings over the weekend. The Bulldogs swept Alabama at Dudy Noble Field, while the Rebels lost leads in Games 2 and 3 to lose the series at Auburn.
‘You’ve got to win’
The Rebels, after posting six straight league wins to climb to 10-8, have lost four of their last six. MSU is 13-11 in the league, five games behind division-leading LSU and one game ahead of 12-12 Ole Miss.
“I don’t know if it’s momentum … you’re in a race, and you’re trying to win as many games as you can. You only have so many, and now you can count them on almost one hand,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “You’ve got to win if you want to end up where you hope to and if you want to reach goals.”
With no non-conference competition, each team has the full week to think about the other.
Since John Cohen’s arrival as head coach in 2009, the Bulldogs have won three of the four series. Ole Miss swept at Starkville in 2010 but won only single games in 2009 and 2011 at home and won just once at MSU last year.
Ole Miss ends the regular season at LSU, while MSU closes at home against South Carolina.