COLUMN: Wise Up Pickers

Only a pop singer picked the Rebels last week against Alabama. The "experts" went with the Tide. This week, very few of the talking heads went with Ole Miss over Texas A&M. When will they learn? The Rebels are a really good football team that deserves respect and, every once in a while, for someone to give them a pregame nod or two. Ask the Aggies, who fell to Ole Miss 35-20.

The doubters need to become believers. . . .

. . . . or they will continue to look foolish.

The 6-0 Rebels are a good football team. How good remains to be tallied, but at 6-0, what else do they have to do to get some of the so-called experts' attention?

It's shocking the Rebels came into the Texas A&M game as the third-ranked team in the country and still the "pickers" had no faith in the Rebels.

Maybe they need to listen to Katy Perry, or better yet, do some research.

Again, there is a lot of football to be played, but there are some things about this team that are fact.

The Rebel defense is championship caliber. It's hard to overstate the value of a top-notch defense, but suffice it to say not many teams win titles without one.

When Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack said, adamantly, after the Alabama game "we thought our front four could handle their offensive line," which they did, it was a bold, but true, statement of how far this defensive unit has come.

When is the last time a Rebel front could handle any Tide OL? Norman Hand and Tim Bowens? Before then, Jim Dunaway or Jim Urbanek? Wommack, with one simple statement, said a mouthful.

For the most part, that type of play up front continued against Texas A&M. The Aggies didn't get much on the ground all night. Even when it looked like there was a decent hole and a decent gain developing, the Rebels closed the gaps quickly and pursued relentlessly.

The linebackers are feeding off the DL, the secondary is feeding off the front seven and they are all in a frenzy.

Just ask the Aggies. . . .

In the first half, Texas A&M was able to get some yardage through the air, but never got beyond the Rebs' 27 and when they tried to go vertical in the first quarter, All-American Free Safety Cody Prewitt picked off a Kenny Hill pass and rumbled 75 yards for a touchdown with a run that showed why he was a stud tailback in high school.

Granted, Hill was 18-21 in the first half, but they seemed like harmless yards and the Aggies never threatened to score.

The one time it looked as if they would get points in the first half - on a 45-yard field goal attempt, they tried a fake and it was sniffed out and snuffed out by an alert defensive unit.

The Aggies had a good drive in the third quarter - it's hard to hold them down forever - to get a score and cut the deficit to 21-7, but the Rebs came right back and scored late in the third to stretch it back out to 28-7 on a 33-yard strike from Bo to Quincy Adeboyejo.

Then the defense struck again when Hill fumbled, MLB Keith Lewis scooped up the loose ball and scored from 21 yards out to make it 35-7.

From there, it was pretty much feeding time for the Landshark defense.

Offensively, the Rebels were clinical in the first half, carving up the Aggies' defense for two score on short Wallace TD bursts. They seemed to get out of rhythm in the third quarter until the pass to Adeboyejo.

The Rebel offensive coaches came out with some new "stuff," or at the very least, with things they had not shown much in the previous five games, namely more runs by Wallace and some different twists in the routes the receivers ran.

Different looks produced early scores and early momentum and the "loudest stadium in the nation" never could get going other than a brief time in the third quarter when the Aggies scored. And there were over 110,000 in the stands, the largest crowd in the history of the state of Texas and in the SEC.

Like the Alabama game, the run game didn't produce a ton of yards, but it was effective enough to keep the Aggie defense honest and open up some passing lanes the Rebs were able to exploit.

In all, it was a thorough thumping of a Top 20 team before a record crowd and the Rebels did the thumping.

Once again, the "experts"chose not to believe in the Rebels.

Once again, the Rebels proved them wrong.

This Ole Miss team is for real. How real is yet to be determined.

But at the very least, it's time for the whole nation to sit up and take notice and for the pickers to wise up.

Either that or keep looking awfully foolish.


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