Ole Miss earned its highest preseason football ranking in nearly 40 years Friday, as the Rebels appeared at No. 10 in the USA Today preseason coaches’ Top 25.
Defending BCS champion Florida was the overwhelming No. 1 choice of the coaches, netting 53 of the 59 first-place votes. Texas is second, Oklahoma third and Southern california fourth.
The last time Ole Miss was ranked this high in the polls was the 1970 campaign, when the Rebels entered the year at No. 5 and rose as high as No. 4.
Prior to the regular-season finale with Mississippi State on Nov. 26, 1970 – a 19-14 loss in Oxford – Ole Miss was 10th and has not returned to that point until Friday.
The Rebels were last ranked in the preseason in 2000, when they opened the year 18th.
The program’s highest preseason ranking came in 1964, with the squad starting the year as the nation’s top-ranked team. As defending national champion in various polls, Ole Miss began the 1960 and 1963 seasons second in the polls, and the 1960 team went on to earn the second of Ole Miss’ three shared national titles.
The Rebels are the fourth of five SEC teams in the latest preseason poll, including No. 1 Florida, No. 5 Alabama, No. 9 LSU and No. 13 Georgia.
That puts three teams from the SEC Western Division into the Top 10.
Ole Miss has been considered among college football’s preseason top 10 teams according to most media outlets this summer, and as high as No. 5 by The Sporting News.
The Rebels concluded last year ranked No. 14 by the Associated Press and No. 15 by the coaches after a 9-4 season that included a 47-34 victory over Texas Tech in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
Texas Tech is unranked in the preseason, getting the 28th-highest number of votes from the coaches panel.
The AP media poll will be released on Saturday, Aug. 22.
Ole Miss opens the 2009 campaign Sept. 6 at Memphis in a 2:30 p.m. kickoff televised by ESPN. The Rebels’ first home game is Sept. 19 against Southeastern Louisiana.
NEMS Daily Journal