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Week 8 Ole Miss Confidence Report: The bell tolls for thee, .500 record

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All it took was a win over a bad Arkansas team and we’re back! Never let it be said I am smart.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We continue with our weekly series that assesses my confidence, using a scale of one to five Cowboy Hat-Wearing Matt Lukes, in Ole Miss’ ability to win the remaining games on its schedule. For a refresher on how this works or if you want to remember a time before losing to two SEC opponents by a combined score of 107-23, click here.

After the most disciplined, blue-collar football performance of all disciplined, blue-collar football performances two weeks ago against LSU, I cannot recall wanting to delete the Ole Miss Football Fan App from my brain more than I did that night. One may point to the Houston Nutt era as the lowest crater—particularly after Jacksonville State—but at least we could see Nutt’s expiration date on the horizon*.

*Did Pete Boone ever serve any jail time for his decision to not fire Nutt after 2010? Or when he let Nutt coach the last three games of 2011 so we could watch him lose by a combined score of 110-13?

At the end of that night in Baton Rouge, we were staring at two and a half more years of the finest quality garbage known to man, plus however many years the rebuild from this disaster would take. Of course, that thought assumed the Ole Miss administration could somehow not shit the bed so violently that it gets on the wall and ceiling (per standard operating procedures) and hire a coach capable of a rebuild.

In that moment, it was not unreasonable to believe it would be close to a decade before Ole Miss football even had a chance to stand on the banks of the Red River in Shreveport and drink its mud-water. That still may come to pass, but Ole Miss’ ability to not burn its own house down against Arkansas gave a pulse to the idea that maybe this thing can stay afloat.

Sure, there were staggering amounts of gross incompetence everywhere, but the team never quit when they had every reason to, which, dating back to last season, is something Matt Luke has been able to get out of his teams. The rest of his NBA Jam ratings may not be great, but his motivational ability (or whatever you want to call it) is a bright green 10.

The defense will remain terrible, although they made plays in the fourth quarter, and now D.K. Metcalf is done for the year. But if the offense continues to attack the way they did on Saturday night, with short and intermediate passes and Jordan Ta’amu’s legs, perhaps we can play an imaginary Birmingham Bowl in the yard of NCAA supermax prison.

Here’s my outlook for the remaining games on Ole Miss’ schedule.

Auburn

Here is what I wrote in this very space last week:

The good news is that Auburn appears to be headed down the same path as Bobby Lowder and Colonial Bank. The bad news is they still have two weeks to get their stuff together before coming to Oxford, which they will because #WAOM and have never played anyone who is on their way to the bottom of the crater.

Teams rising from the crater, yes, but never those in full plummet. I can hear Gus now, after beating Georgia, crediting the Ole Miss game as the one that turned their season around.

Does losing at home to Tennessee, a team that hasn’t won an SEC game since Phil Fulmer’s last year*, qualify as hitting the bottom of that crater? YOU BET.

*Our research team is still investigating this claim. Please stand by for confirmation.

While I’m not as despondent as I was a few weeks ago, experience tells me Malzahn’s press conference after the game will be him talking about how Auburn got back to the basics and ran for a quarter of a million yards.

CONFIDENCE LEVEL:

South Carolina

As I’ve said before, when I am remotely right about something, YOU PEOPLE ARE GONNA HEAR ABOUT IT. However, since getting confirmation that Coach Boom and squad are pretty average and not what some said they would be, I have yet to go all in on the success of my prediction (no rubber bracelets or fake funerals).

That changes today. GIVE ME THE FOUR HORSEMEN.

CONFIDENCE LEVEL:

Texas A&M

Ole Miss’ chance of winning this game is minimal, which is fine because no person who is firmly attached to this planet would think otherwise. What irritates me is that I live close enough to College Station that I have to go to the game, but I may not be able to leave early because the Aggies probably won’t blow Ole Miss out in the first half.

Instead of being back in Austin before the game ends, I’ll be sitting in the stadium like an idiot, waiting for the avalanche I know is coming. SPORTS ARE FUN AND A GREAT USE OF TIME.

CONFIDENCE LEVEL:

Vanderbilt

Though Vanderbilt really took it to Florida in the first half last weekend, they were very much Vanderbilt in the second half. Knowing that they can’t contain the Vanderbilt within them, I find rest.

Shout-out to Dan Mullen and his rageaholic brother-in-law Todd Grantham for making every dumbass in a Nashville bar on Saturday night look relatively in control.

CONFIDENCE LEVEL:

Mississippi State

Speaking of shout-outs, here’s one to both the segment of 19th-century-English-porridge-for-brains Mississippi State fans who believe Ole Miss’ defensive game plan is to hurt quarterbacks and the national MY COLUMN #sprotswriter who entertains the idea because Tom Mars and the University of Tennessee public relations folks haven’t assigned him any work recently.

First, and most importantly, if you really believe this, I would advise you to care more about anything else in your life than you do about Ole Miss. Seriously, what you’re going to eat for lunch on Wednesday has more meaning to your life than Ole Miss does. Secondly, if you think Ole Miss has a legitimate defensive game plan, your school should hire Wesley McGriff because he would totally be a great hire and you will not regret it one bit no sir make the call today.

CONFIDENCE LEVEL: