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RED CUP BOWL PROJECTIONS: Ole Miss returns to Shreveport to take down FSU

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The Independence Bowl ain’t so bad, given 6-6.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss is absolutely not bowling at the Independence Bowl this season, but should they go bowling at the Independence Bowl, which they’re not, they’d almost certainly find themselves at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, which would be totally wicked, because put this stupid team against anyone in December and, well, let a shithouse rat loose in your house and see what happens. Have fun. You won’t, because you can’t, because you’re afraid.

Who’s Ole Miss’ Independence Bowl opponent, anyway, and how bad will they beat them? Let’s put a pin in that question and come back to it.

Ole Miss slid by Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, 31-28, to move to 6-6 on the season. Six wins and you’re bowl eligible, runs the college football annex, unless you’ve self-imposed a postseason ban that may or may not have to do with VERY SERIOUS recruiting infractions under the program’s previous administration. Ole Miss’ postseason ban is totally binding, and so the Rebs stand at 6-6 in 2017 for all of time.

That is until they play — you know, let’s just say against FSU for now — in the Independence Bowl, which is held annually in Shreveport, Louisiana. Then, once they have completed their 13th game of the 2017 season, which they will not do, they could finish with seven wins, an impressive total given Ole Miss’ disappointing 2016 season, injury-plagued 2017 campaign, and bowl ineligibility. But still, INDEPENDENCE BOWL, PAWL.

Ole Miss’ 2017 record ain’t much to speak of — for myriad reasons — and chief among them may be their losses to Texas A&M, LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, and Cal. These fails are perhaps the prompt for an un-hoped-for Independence Bowl berth. These are bad. But at least they earned a bowl which they’re totally not going to appear in. It’s in Shreveport, by the way.

Ole Miss’ possible opponents?

You know what, is Boston College bowl eligible? Let’s just say they are. Sure. It’s fine. Just play with us in the space we’ve created here, a space in which Ole Miss, eligible to earn an Independence Bowl berth, will absolutely obliterate Boston College in the Independence Bowl, which is in Shreveport. That’d be mighty fun, because Boston College ranks No. 72 in the current S&P+ ratings to Ole Miss’ No. 46.

Also, the Eagles check in at 93rd in offensive S&P+, which means Ole Miss’ defensive ranking of No. 112 would finally have an equal match on its hands. However, there is cause for concern as Boston College did drop 35 points on Florida State, a team that needs to beat Louisiana-Monroe this weekend to become bowl eligible #TALKINBOUTTHENOLES. We’ll come back to you, FSU.

Virginia is another possibility. Yes, the same Virginia that started the season 5-1 and finished 6-6, which gives them the aura of David Cutcliffe, right down to limping into the Independence Bowl. This would actually be bad news for Ole Miss because, say what you will about a David Cutcliffe-like team being trash in November, those teams DID NOT LOSE Independence Bowl games. Speaking of, is David Cutcliffe in the Independence Bowl Hall of Honor? Lol, fam, YOU KNOW HE IS.

A third team Ole Miss could play but really not play is TEAM WE DON’T WANT TO BE IN SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA ON DECEMBER 27TH IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD TWO THOUSAND SEVENTEEN. Not that we’re judging because we are all that team, but they would be the best opponent. When the other team doesn’t care and you either kind of care or really care, bring on the three-touchdown win and people believing THEY’RE BACK, BABY. There is no greater hype man for next season than kicking the crap out of some mostly garbage team before the football drought.

How does Ole Miss stack up against these possibilities, and what will be the outcome of this very real game that is actually going to happen in human reality?

Since Ole Miss is actually not actually playing in this year’s Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., it’s important to break down how the Rebs might fare against their very real opponents, whom they’re never going to play in Shreveport.

Because Ole Miss is a veteran of the Independence Bowl process (five appearances; 4-1, haters), you have to like the Rebels’ chances. They know the Port City well, including the casino scene, and with Matt Luke, a disciple of the aforementioned Independence Bowl wizard David Cutliffe, leading the team, it’s probably a lock.

Moreover, Matt Luke got his team to not quit when they were 3-5 heading into November. If you think they’re not going to show up for some middle-of-the-road ACC team, THERE’S SOME KENTUCKY FILM YOU NEED TO SEE. Oh, the spread is Ole Miss -1? Make it -11 and we’ll still get that paper.

Seriously, though, who would Ole Miss play in the Independence Bowl if they were to go to Shreveport?

SB Nation’s most recent bowl projections place FSU into the Independence Bowl against Southern Miss, which is a placeholder team since an SEC opponent for the ‘Noles (READ: Ole Miss) cannot be found. FSU still has yet to reach bowl eligibility (long side-eye at Louisiana-Monroe), but assuming the Seminoles do the thing Saturday, they’re probably Shreveport-bound.

The Seminoles currently rank No. 64 in the latest S&P+ tabulation, and they’re scoring at a clip of 25.3 points per game, not including garbage time, while giving up 23 points per outing. Ole Miss, on the other hand, is handing in 32.8 points per contest while allowing 34.6. It’s difficult to gain a projected final score without having these teams locked in against one another, but something in the 30s feels about right.

According to Bill C., he predicts a final score of 32-28, advantage Ole Miss, with a 58 percent win probability. NOT BAD, JIM.

Where Ole Miss holds a slight advantage is along the Rebel defensive front seven over against FSU’s woeful offensive line. The Seminoles current offensive success rate sits at 38.8 percent, good for 104th in the country. That seems bad. Both teams are scoring a bit less than five points per trip inside their opponents’ 40 yard line, with Ole Miss holding a slight half point advantage in that column.

The difference in a hypothetical matchup between Ole Miss and FSU in the Independence Bowl in beautiful Shreveport, La. will be felt in the explosiveness department. Ole Miss is currently a staggering No. 3 in IsoPPP, where FSU sits down at No. 42. As evidenced by the last month and a half of Rebel football, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise — especially given A.J. Brown’s propensity for ripping off 50 and 70 yard touchdown catches — but the Seminoles’ inability to attack with success over the top or break off sizable runs (again, that offensive line) already hamstrings them in an on-paper showdown with Ole Miss.

Dear NCAA, let’s just have these two go at each other again, if only for the Rebels to have a chance to exorcise last year’s Week 1 demons.