SEC skid over, Rebels stay focused

By Parrish Alford

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The SEC losing streak was still alive when bowl talk for Ole Miss began to bubble.
That’s a tribute to new coach Hugh Freeze, but it’s not something Ole Miss players will hear from Freeze or his staff.
The Rebels (4-3, 1-2 SEC) arrive at this week’s open date two wins from bowl-eligibility with five games to play, three of them on the road.
That stretch begins Oct. 27 against Arkansas in Little Rock. Kickoff has been set for 11:21 a.m. for the SEC Network.
The Rebels have been mentioned in various media bowl projections, and there’s real interest from Liberty Bowl officials in having the “local” SEC team play in Memphis.
setting right tone
In the age of communication it’s difficult to shut out a brand of information that might not suit you. Freeze and his staff will handle the rising optimism for the program by living out what they believe to be the proper focus.
“A team typically takes on the personality of its coaching staff for the most part,” Freeze said. “When they spend time with us, they’re not going to hear any of that. I only want us to prepare to be better for Arkansas than we were for Auburn. We could tell them not to pay attention to it, but I’d rather them see us be business-like in our approach. I think that’s the best way.”
With their 41-20 win over Auburn, the Rebels broke a 16-game SEC losing streak spanning more than two years.
Ole Miss last played in a bowl game following the 2009 season, the second of back-to-back Cotton Bowl trips for former coach Houston Nutt.
“I wasn’t here the previous two years, yet you found yourself feeling like you were part of that,” Freeze said. “That was the natural feeling for the players and everyone who’d been through it. It was always the 300-pound gorilla in the room. Now we can stop talking about it and concentrate on the next game on the schedule.”
parrish.alford@journalinc.com