I am a huge sucker for preseason college football magazines, despite the slow death of print publications, and I find myself stocking up on them every year since I was a kid.
Other than Ducks Unlimited and whatever Mrs. OMTB has subscribed to, you won’t find another magazine in the house outside of the stacks of Phil Steele previews, Athlon Sports, and various fantasy football prospectuses. All of this correlates with gambling on sports and having reading material for when it’s needed (see: on business trips and on the shitter).
It is damn near impossible to accurately predict all 131 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision prior to the season beginning, however, I do think the bottom 20-30 is pretty evident based on history and resources.
Teams in the top 25 in my opinion for most of these publications are teams that have been vetted to have a strong to very strong possibility of 9-10 wins or more regardless of conference. So, that being said, it seems national publications are split on the Ole Miss Rebels.
Here is what some of the more prominent prognosticators have predicted:
- CBS Sports: No. 27
- Athlon Sports: In “next tier” of 21 teams outside of Top 25
- Phil Steele: No. 30
- Lindy’s: No. 17
- ESPN Football Power Index: No. 17
- Sporting News: No. 16
Now the prospect of head coach Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss following up a 10-3 season and finishing No. 11 overall with another top 25 finish would be a big moment for everyone. It would add recruiting momentum, add credence to the portal strategy for Kiffin, and would speak volumes of the staff and players getting on the same page in a very short time frame.
I think this wishy-washy spectrum of where Ole Miss will land is directly tied to whether writers think the higher number of impact transfers will work for the Rebels or not. The margin for error is so small in the SEC the difference in 7-5 and 10-2 can be in just a handful of plays.
For me, I think most of these publications put too much emphasis on returning production as an indicator for future success. The anticipation players will continue to get better, stronger, and improve is logical, but we’re talking about 19-21 year old college athletes. Nothing is guaranteed, so I always take the preseason rankings with a massive grain of salt.
The best news for myself and other Ole Miss fans like me is the program has ascended back into year after year relevancy in the college football landscape after a departure post-NCAA garbage. And it feels pretty damn good.