Ole Miss dismantled the Tennessee Volunteers in Oxford saturday night 34-3. (Game Recap) Tennessee is a team that had won 13 of the last 14 meetings between the two teams, a team that won the first BCS national title, a team with a 100,000 seat stadium and one of the best funded programs in all of college football.
The winning team from Mississippi has a stadium that seats just over 60,000 and an operating budget approximately half as large as Tennessee.
This is not supposed to happen. You just can’t get enough quality players to Mississippi right? This state is already one of the smallest in the league and we have to share players with Mississippi State. Ole Miss and MSU will never be able to compete, right? It’s just the facts.
Well, as we have seen, what is likely is not always absolute. The 10% chance is happening. The improbable lightning strike has struck, twice actually.
Ole Miss has not been 7-0 since 1962 a year when they went undefeated for the year at 10-0, a year that has been much discussed for the athletic prowess on the field but also for their ability to overcome the distractions off the field (which may have been a bigger accomplishment).
The 2014 accomplishments for the Rebs are similar in more than just the record. The current team is strikingly similar to the glory days of the 60’s. Both teams were proficient at passing with a dominant defense. Both teams also led the SEC as Ole Miss was the only undefeated team in ’62 at 10-0, and the current team at 7-0 has a half-game lead as MSU had a bye this week.
Glynn Griffing was a co-captain quarterback on the ’62 team and was selected in 2012 as an SEC Legends class.
He was a first team All-American, All-SEC and was MVP of the Sugar Bowl as the Rebels beat Arkansas 17-13 and helped his team win a share of the national championship.
Statistically, Griffing had 882 total yards passing (4th in SEC) and 11 touchdowns (3rd in SEC).
Comparatively; Bo Wallace, after 7 games, has 1,899 passing yards (2nd in SEC) and 17 touchdowns (2nd in SEC).
Louis Guy was the other co-captain and an All-SEC senior wingback in 1962 who lead the team in receptions from Glynn Griffing. He had 24 receptions in 1962 (4th in SEC) and 5 receiving touchdowns (1st in SEC).
The 2014 leading receiver is Laquon Treadwell with 34 receptions (5th in SEC) and 4 touchdowns (7th in SEC).
The 1962 defense, like the 2014 defense was one of the best in the nation as they gave up only 5.3 points per game, good enough for 3rd best in the SEC. After seven games the 2014 Ole Miss defense has allowed 10.6 points per game which is the best in the nation currently.
In an era where most players played on both offense and defense, running back Buck Randall would average over 4 yards a carry on offense then stay on the field as an outside linebacker to suffocate opposing teams.
The 1962 Ole Miss team finished ranked in several polls as the best team in the nation but the AP poll gave the top honor to Southern California who also finished 10-0 and gave the Rebels a number 3 ranking, the same ranking the 2014 team currently holds.
There is a lot of work left to do for Coach Hugh Freeze’s team and if they can finish the road left in front of them they would be the first team to win the new playoff format and they would have to win 15 games if they go undefeated, not just 10 or 11 as in 1962.
The first year of playoffs will give teams a chance to win a championship on the field rather than be subjected to voters opinions.
If the Rebels get through this year undefeated at 15-0 you could easily make a case that not only would they be the best team in 2014, but they could lay claim to the best single season ever played in the history of college football.