SCENE - An Oxford, Mississippi bar in the late afternoon. Patrons are sparsely littered amongst the stools, booths, and tables, and are largely quiet. On two large televisions above the bar, ESPN's "Around the Horn" is playing, muted with closed captions. Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years" is playing faintly over the establishment's speakers. REBEL PESSIMIST, A young man in his mid- to late-20's sits at the bar, his fingers loosely wrapped around a half-empty pint of beer. He is wearing jeans and a nondescript green flannel shirt. His hair is a bit of a mess.
Enter REBEL OPTIMIST, a Class of 2014 Ole Miss grad wearing a red cap with a navy script "Ole Miss" across the front and a powder blue Ole Miss Nike polo. He sits at the bar two stools down from REBEL PESSIMIST. He is approached by the BARTENDER.
BARTENDER: What're you having?
REBEL OPTIMIST: Lazy Magnolia, please.
Waiting on his drink to be poured, R.O. turns to R.P. and asks, excitedly.
R.O.: So, you think the Rebs got a good shot at Auburn this weekend?
R.P. looks over slowly, pauses, and slowly shakes his head.
R.P.: Nah, ain't got a shot. No way they're gonna bounce back after last week.
R.O.: Oh man, that's no way to think about it. I don't think you can say there is "no way" they'll be able to recover. I mean, losses happen. Even really good teams have finished seasons with a loss or two. Remember Florida in 2008? It happens. And anyw---
R.P.: Naw man, that Florida team had Tim Tebow. We've got Dr. Bo. That analogy's not gonna fly.
R.O.: But that's not the point. The point is that one loss doesn't kill you. And anyway the defense is still really solid. Definitely the best in the country so we should definitely be able to compete with anybody.
BARTENDER places a glass of beer on a coaster in front of R.O., who immediately takes a large gulp.
R.P.: Even Gus Malzhan and his offense? I'd easily trade most of our starters on offense for theirs, no doubt. We don't have a Cameron Artis-Payne to pound the ball up the middle, and we don't have a Sammie Coates to our D'haquille Williams to balance out the vertical passing attack. And Bo Wallace is about as agile as a wounded deer, unlike Nick Marshall. Our defense is going to have their hands full, man.
R.O.: More full than they were against Alabama? Blake Sims, T.J. Yeldon, and Amari Cooper are the truth, and they mustered a mighty ten points against the Landsharks. I think these guys are going to be ready to take Auburn to the shed like they did against, well, everybody else.
R.P.: Except the Nkemdiches and Cody Prewitt are hurt, and this team showed a real inability to get a push against a big, beefy offensive line last weekend. They were exposed, man, and they were lucky to get the turnovers they did. And, anyway, none of that will matter if the offense sucks like they did last weekend.
R.O.: Saturday Night in Death Valley, man, it happens. Even Gus Malzhan and Kevin Sumlin have struggled to put offenses together in Baton Rouge. It's a weird place. Voodoo 'n' shit. I wouldn't put too much weight on that. The offense will get it together.
R.P.: Without a real running game and a hurt Laremy Tunsil?
R.O.: Tunsil's still playing, and Wallace and the receivers should have a good game against Auburn. Dylan freakin' Thompson had 400-something hards on them last weekend! Those guys are terrible. And their defensive line doesn't get to the quarterback so Bo should have plenty of time.
R.P.: Yeah, plenty of time to overthrow his guys. And, even then, the mojo is gone. The bubble has been popped. LSU physically dominated this team and took all the momentum away from them. They don't have the fortitude to turn right back around and win this week, and they're probably too damn sore to pull it off anyway.
R.O.: Tell that to every other one-loss championship contending team ever. Teams lose, but teams with talent and a good attitude turn right back around and win. Surely you've watched enough football to know this.
R.P.: And surely you've watched enough Ole Miss football to know that we've always struggled in this situation. That's who we are.
R.O.: And Ole Miss had never beat a No. 1 team until this year, and Ole Miss had never beaten Texas A&M until this year, and Oxford had never hosted a top-5 matchup until this year. This is the new normal, man. These coaches and players don't give a damn about all that old "We Are Ole Miss" shit. They just don't.
Both take the last swigs of their beers, and are approached by BARTENDER who offers them another round. R.P. nods. R.O. lifts his empty glass, and tilts it towards BARTENDER.
R.O.: Yeah, I'll take another... Say, what do you think about this Saturday? The Rebs are gonna win, right? Totally gonna bounce back and keep this thing rolling?
R.P. turns his attention to the BARTENDER as well.
R.P.: No man, you know it's over. It's over, and everybody knows it, right?
Bartender: I don't know. Whatever. Fuck Auburn.