Let’s entertain a hilarious scenario, because this is hilarious. And it’s sure to piss plenty of people off.
Ole Miss will be this year’s CHAOS TEAM in college football. For that there’s little doubt. They’re loaded with weapons on offense, are returning a top QB prospect in the form of Shea Patterson, and the defense ... well, the defense is anyone’s guess. Like we said — CHAOS TEAM.
But it’s the trend of CHAOS TEAMs generally that they’re often able of scoring at virtually any moment — certainly not out of the realm of possibility for these Ole Miss Rebels — but they can also give up points in a hell of a hurry. That’s just the nature of the business when dealing with a club that can go for broke on offense and hope a motley defense can prevent enough points when the dogfight breaks out.
So, let’s perform a thought-experiment. What would happen if Ole Miss went undefeated in 2017, notwithstanding their self-imposed postseason ban. There will be no bowl game for this team, so what would a 12-0 finish on the year even mean? Let’s think this through, game by game.
VIRTUAL LOCKS: South Alabama, Tennessee-Martin, Kentucky (?), Louisiana-Lafayette
This group — with the possible exception of Kentucky late in the season — probably offer the Rebs three baseline wins. We’ve asked the South Alabama question already, and even we think the answer to it is a definite NO. UT Martin and the ULL tuneup before the rivalry game against State — this year in Starkville, of course — are also probably Ws, so let’s dispense with this group and move on.
DEFINITE MAYBES: Cal, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Mississippi State
This is where things get dicey. The Cal game, as we’ve spelled out before, is quite the weird one. It’s way over there on the liberal elite left coast, it’s at a strange time of day after a lot of travel, and Cal themselves are also something of a CHAOS TEAM. A 3-0 start would be great, sure — especially in the present context — but a 2-1 start wouldn’t be surprising. Definitely a maybe.
The remaining four, though ... who the hell knows? Auburn’s breaking in a new quarterback. There’s talk that Vandy could actually get into the mix, Arkansas is ALWAYS WEIRD, and Mississippi State is returning Nick Fitzgerald, who’s pretty damn good. Out of this group of five, 1-4 or 2-3 seems likely, yes, while 3-2 or 4-1 would seem like gifts from above.
Still, though, we’re hoping for 5-0, because, y’know, CHAOS FOR EVERYONE.
LESS DEFINITE MAYBES: LSU, Texas A&M
Both of these games are in Oxford this year, so that helps. This will be Ed Orgeron’s first full year at the helm in Baton Rouge, and unless Kevin Sumlin has hit his eight-or-so wins ceiling for a given season, that A&M game so late in the year is a total tossup.
But a 2-0 between these two would be great, and again, for our purposes here, MAXIMUM CHAOS.
NEARLY OUTSIDE THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY, GIVEN THE SPACE-TIME PARAMETERS IN WHICH WE LIVE: Alabama
#ROLLTIDE is certain to come out in Week 4 — probably undefeated, mind — and crush Ole Miss’ suspect defense with their many weapons on offense. The Rebs may pester the monster for a bit in the first half, but c’mon people.
BUT! What if?
What would this mean?
It would mean that Ole Miss went undefeated in a season in which they had self-imposed a postseason ban. It would mean that potentially a College Football Playoff-worthy team will be glaringly left out. It will leave Ole Miss in a position similar to Ohio State in 2012, which went 12-0 but couldn’t play in the Big Ten championship game or national title game due to sanctions stemming from Pants-gate or whatever it was called.
It would also place the Rebs in a situation similar to Auburn in 1993. In Terry Bowden’s first season down on the Plains, the Tigers finished 11-0 and No. 4 in the AP poll, but they were barred from postseason play (as well as from being broadcast on television).
So, while those two teams’ sanctions came down from the NCAA, Ole Miss’ elective self-banning from postseason play will keep the Rebels from any sort of bowl game or CFP berth. Should they go undefeated, of course.