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Chasing 1962: Ole Miss Is In Search For New Glory Days

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.

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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.

(Read this article at OleHottyToddy.com)

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).

(See UT/Ole Miss preview video from WBIR – Knoxville, TN)

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).

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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.

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Mississippi State: America’s team?

Last week, I mentioned to some friends of mine that we are quickly becoming America’s favorite college football team. I really believe that. Our story is real – it isn’t invented in the mind of some writer or TV producer. There aren’t any adoptions of five-star players or the famous names of football aristocracy adorning the backs of our kids’ jerseys. It is real-life kids who have worked their butts off to get where they are today. It is the ultimate Cinderella story of kids who were overlooked by the other colleges across the country.

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It’s about kids with winning attitude and ability to work hard to create their own version of the “American Dream” despite the fact that they were written off as “not quite good enough” by the big boys of college football. These are kids who have an agenda – who are playing with an enormous chip on their shoulder.

When Dan Mullen was hired at MSU he walked into what was undoubtedly the most challenging position in the SEC. He’s done an amazing job of getting us to where we are today simply because he came to Starkville with a plan and stuck to it. Some believed while others doubted, but all the while, Dan stayed the course. He talked about winning championships even while some of his own fans rolled their eyes in disbelief that anything so wonderful could ever happen for their beloved Bulldogs in Starkville. I mean, we just weren’t THAT lucky. To rival fanbases, his comments were comical and were fodder for jokes. Now, on the heels of a number one ranking in both the AP and Coaches polls, his Championship talk doesn’t seem the least bit laughable anymore.

He’s built this team from the ground up – from scratch. He’s done it with hard work, integrity, and dedication. He didn’t accept any less than the very best from his players both off and on the field. He has ingrained the idea that we are not just a team, but rather, a “family” into every fiber of our being.

He’s been selling all of this for a long time, and it’s finally clicked… his players, his administration, and every single fan has bought-in to Dan Mullen’s Mississippi State University, including the ones who had doubts from the beginning.

From day one Mullen’s staff hit the ground running. They hit up every small town in Mississippi in a quest for the talent that they knew was there. They understood that it wasn’t going to be easy, and they knew that they weren’t going to be able to go into the big schools and start getting commitments from the five star players in the short run. Instead, they adopted a different approach. They learned to look closer…to view players through a different set of lenses. Sure, they were looking for talent, but more importantly, they looked for character and work ethic. They looked for kids with a desire to win and with the willingness to do whatever it took to give their best in all aspects of their lives.

Simply put, our coaches learned to look for the intangible qualities that make people not just good football players, but exceptional individuals both on and off the field. They searched for overlooked in-state talent – “diamonds in the rough” and along the way, they picked up some of those kids in Louisiana and Alabama that had been overlooked by their own local Universities. Then, they redshirted those kids and built up the raw talent in their bodies, and they coached up their minds. In short, it worked and it is paying off big dividends in Starkville.

What this staff has done is nothing short of incredible. Mississippi State has eighteen starters that were rated from zero star to three star, according to scouting services. Let me rephrase that, “The best team in the nation has eighteen of twenty-two starters rated anywhere from zero to three star in high school.” Let that sink-in for a moment.

Everyone doubted Mullen for saying that he was going to build a program in Starkville that would consistently compete for Championships. Everyone told us that it was impossible to do in Starkville. Everyone laughed and jeered. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Mullen’s plan has worked. His plan was to build a program that would not only compete one out of every three or four years, but rather to sustain success.

We are set for years to come at MSU. Dan has not only built a program that will compete for Championships year in and year out; he has built a team that everyone in America can and does love.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State, and the fans who “believed” have gotten the last laugh…because the joke is on all those people who said it wasn’t possible.

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This is OUR State. This is OUR America. #HailState

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Is Ole Miss Entering a New Era in the SEC?

For all the talk about up tempo offenses and old school vs new school football, it always comes down to players making plays.

(Article appeared originally at OleHottyToddy.com)

No matter what offense you run, you have to move the ball, but you don’t have to run between the tackles to do that.  You actually don’t have to run much at all.  Freeze likes to pass out in the flats, use screens and passes to the tight end.  A lot of those plays are extended handoffs.

Ole Miss only had 72 yards rushing with 32 coming from QB Bo Wallace.  One thing you do need no matter your offense is a defense to give you a chance.  And boy what a defense Dave Wommack has in Oxford.

The “Land Sharks” only gave up one touchdown to the best offense in the SEC.  Ole Miss knocked off the #1 ranked Nick Saban led Crimson Tide 23-17 in a slug fest where injuries were common and the pre-game atmosphere was down right distracting.

TJ Yeldon had 123 yards but Derrick Henry was bottled up by only getting 37.  Amari Cooper had 91 yards and tight end OJ Howard had significant yards with 81.

Most importantly, there was only one offensive touchdown and that was by a great run fake QB sneak by Blake Sims in the first half.

This Ole Miss defense has a knack of bending but not breaking and as the field gets compressed inside the 20, the pressure of the Land Shark defense becomes unbearable for opposing teams.

With the Hollywood noise and extra fans and media attention from ESPN’s gameday, it would have been easy to let the stage get too big, put too much pressure on yourself and make a mistake.

Bo Wallace has already done that.  Last year in Tuscaloosa, Bo got a taste of going scoreless against this Alabama team so he more than anyone understands the size of the stage he is playing on and he knows what to expect from the Alabama defense.

The only slight edge Ole Miss had “on paper” was the Alabama defensive secondary was giving up 75% of their total yards.  Thanks to his defense, Wallace had enough time at halftime to discuss a game plan for the second half after only scoring 3 points in the first half.  Bo and his deep fleet of receivers ran their patterns and were just a little bit better than the Alabama defenders.  Not by much, but they started to find a small window for Bo to pass through.

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The margin of error was very small and on perhaps the biggest game in Ole Miss history, Bo came through with 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and no fumbles.  To me that was the key to the game.

Ole Miss was able to overcome one fumble from RB MAthers that should have been a face mask penalty but they fought through it and forced two turnovers of their own.

With traditional powers LSU and Alabama going down over the last two weeks, it may be time for a new team to step up into the spotlight.  Saban and Miles won’t coach forever.

But Coach Freeze will have to fight even harder to keep this moment.  It won’t be given to anyone and on this night Bo Wallace and the Rebels stood their ground when it counted and found just enough offense to win their first game over a #1 ranked team in Ole Miss history.

The road is just beginning for Ole Miss.  In the SEC, any team can take you down.  But for now, Ole Miss is in the spotlight at 5-0 and on top of the college football world.

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The ChickenHawk’s Locks of the Day – The “Bye Bye Bears” Edition


Dak will have right at or a little over 400 total yards and at least four touchdowns against A&M.

J-Rob will have another 100-yard game.

We will all hear how Dak is a legitimate Heisman contender around 569 times during both games, and that will cause UMiss fans everywhere, to puke repeatedly.

We will hear that MSU is a legitimate playoff contender about 382 times. As a result of this, UMISS fans will return to the outhouse, yet again, to offer prayers to the “porcelain god.”

The name “Dak Prescott” and words of his greatness on the field will be the resonating theme of Gameday.

Bear Wilson and Jameon Lewis prove themselves, as the best receiving “one-two punch” in the SEC

The Psycho-D goes insane on aTm.

Chris Jones puts himself firmly in the Heisman contention.

“Dak,” “ Dak,” “Dak,”  “Dak,” “Dak,” “Dak,” “Dak,” “Dak,” “Dak”…. Oh, just get used to it, Reb-Bear-Sharks.

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Bo has at least three turnovers, and is boo’ed out of “the vault.”

Devante Kincaid makes Jeff Poyner look like Andre the Giant.

The RebBearShark o-line can’t even block Brent Johnson from getting a woman.

The UMiss defense, formerly known as the “Landshark D,” becomes known, nationwide, as the “Squrty Landshart D.”

The RebBearSharks have at least 5 personal fouls

At UMiss, the thug train keeps rolling.

Freeze throws another cursing, hissy-fit on the sidelines – Classy, man…just plain CLASSY!

Brent Shannon…I mean, Johnson, tries to bet that the RebBearSharks are still ten times better than MSU. Then he refuses to bet after being called out on his words.

Javon Patterson commits to UMiss next week, and in their odd, little minds, momentum shifts back to the RebBearShark nation.

Clifton Carter’s Gameday sign says, “If we lose, I’m hibernating for awhile.”

Bret Adams’s Gameday sign says, “Derrick Jones and Justin Bell for Heisman.”

Laura Wolfe Harris’s Gameday sign says, “Yancy’s Shark Bites after the game.”   

Yancy Porter’s Gameday sign says, “Don’t worry guys, we lead for every 5*”

David Johnson’s Gameday sign says, “My crystal ball predicts Cannon Mullen to UMISS.”

Acey Roberts’s Gameday sign says “But, Dak is a running back!”

Ryan Sanford and Josh Pfahler’s Gameday sign says, “UAB for 500”

Mac Landrum’s Gameday sign says, “Day stomps…AGAIN.”

Shawn Cox’s Gameday sign says, “Bo knows Heisman.”

Mike Evans’s Gameday sign says, “Bulldog fans are leg-humpers.”

Sean McMickin’s Gameday sign says “Visit us at MacDaddyMidgetTraining.com”

ReRe’s Gameday sign says…well…nevermind….There isn’t any telling WHAT she might say!

UMiss FINALLY gets College Gameday to Oxford after repeated PLEADING with them to do so. As a result, The ChickenHawk personally thanks UMiss for begging and groveling. After all…ESPN spent all week in Starkville. It brought a lot of national attention to our Dawgs.

Katy Perry kisses a girl in Oxford and doesn’t like it.

Katy Perry tells at least 500 UMiss students “Ur so Gay”

Katy Perry’s fans have their parents turn the channel back to Dora the Explorer immediately after she’s done picking Bama to win the game.

“Dak,” “Dak,” “Dak”, “Dak,” “Dak”…until next time, “Hail State and Hobby Lobby!”…ChickenHawk out!