OXFORD – Appalachian State and Michigan come to mind.
Upsets happen all the time in college football, and that’s the reason Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt won’t stray from his regular preparation routine this week.
The No. 6-ranked Rebels, trying to recover from an attack of flu that has affected many of the players, did not play on Saturday, their only open date of the season.
They face Football Championship Sub-division (formerly Division I-AA) foe Southeastern Louisiana in their home opener this week. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast.
Five days later, the Rebels travel to Columbia, S.C., for their SEC opener against South Carolina.
It would seem that Nutt has the opportunity, should he decide to change his approach, to introduce some of the South Carolina game plan while preparing for a lower-level opponent against which the Rebels will be heavy favorites.
“That’s not me. I’ve just never done that,” said Nutt, who began his coaching career at Division I-AA Murray State. “It’s just hard to do that. There are upsets every week. They happen all the time.”
Media relations officials were unable to find a game in which Ole Miss lost to a lower-division foe.
Southeastern Louisiana is off to its first 2-0 start since 2004 after convincing wins against Texas A&M-Commerce and Union College, both at 7,408-seat Strawberry Stadium. The Lions have scored 110 points in two games.
Nutt’s greater focus has been trying to nurse his players back to health. Almost 30 players showed some type of flu symptoms. Concern for the flu was the reason the school cancelled its annual fan day in late August.
A large number of players were showing flu symptoms during the Memphis game and could be seen throwing up on the sidelines. The training staff was aware and treated each case, head trainer Tim Mullins said.
The long and winding sick list
Among players on the ill list and missing work during the open week: quarterback Jevan Snead, receivers Dexter McCluster and Shay Hodge, offensive lineman John Jerry, linebacker Allen Walker, defensive ends Greg Hardy, Kentrell Lockett and Marcus Tillman and defensive backs Marshay Green and Johnny Brown.
Brown, the starting strong safety, led the Rebels with 15 tackles in their season-opening 45-14 win over Memphis. He received fluids through an IV at halftime.
Nutt said many players were beginning to regain strength by the end of the week, but many would have miss a game if the Rebels had played onSaturday.
“I’ve never been associated with anything like this,” Nutt said. “I don’t think I have ever had five sick before at the same time, much less 20-something. It’s scary. Had this happened the week of the Memphis game, it would have been tough.”
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Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal