PARRISH ALFORD: Rebels strive to be where Tigers are now

PARRISH ALFORD

PARRISH ALFORD

OXFORD

In any other week Ole Miss fans really should be cheering for Missouri.

Last week, next week, any other point on the calendar, but not this week. There’s too much still on the table for the Rebels who are two wins away from nine in the regular season and have a chance to improve their bowl standing with another top-10 victory.

If you’re emotionally uninvested this weekend you have to be impressed with what Missouri is doing in its second year in the league.

The Tigers won their first seven games and responded to a devastating come-from-ahead loss to South Carolina by throttling weaker competition over the next two weeks.

The loss of a starting quarterback for four games did not derail Missouri’s season, and if it wins two more games – at Ole Miss Saturday then at home against Texas A&M – Mizzou will be in Atlanta, and philosophers will again be able to say that defense wins championships.

At least East Division championships.

Missouri is very close to earning a berth in the championship game, which is something Ole Miss covets but has yet to achieve.

The Rebels have an additional hindrance that Missouri does not and that is their physical mailing address. They’re in the SEC West.

With Alabama so frighteningly consistent you wonder if that opportunity would really come, but the Johnny Manziels and even the Nick Sabans have beginning and ending points to their careers.

Change happens, sometimes unexpectedly.

All you can do in the meantime is take care of your house and try to compete at the highest level.

In 1998 Mississippi State won the West with a 6-2 SEC record against a regular season schedule that did not include East heavyweights Tennessee, Florida or Georgia, who ranked 1, 5 and 14 in the final AP poll. The Bulldogs were criticized for that, but they played the schedule that was dealt to them and succeeded.

When the Rebels had their best chance, in 2003, they were unable to overcome the eventual national champion, division rival LSU.

If you’re not one of college football’s glamour teams you need to be prepared to catch lightning in a bottle.

Then take that step, capitalize on momentum, build your program and become a glamour team.

For now, the Ole Miss fans look at Missouri and wonder if it can happen in Oxford.

It can. It won’t this year, but winning Saturday would move the program closer to that goal.

Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at Djournal.com.