Rally time, Rebels

Ole Miss and Wake Forest meet for the first time in football Saturday. The Demon Deacons will bring a 3-0 mark and likely some confidence to Oxford. The Rebels need a win to get back to .500 on the season.

Sometimes it's just rally ‘round dear old Ole Miss time. Now is one of those.

The taste of losing the past two weekends has been sickening for all concerned. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath or two and go at it again. I've been working on that since Saturday night.

This week will be one of those rally times. Wake Forest is coming to town. The Demon Deacons aren't one of the bigtimers of college football historically. But lately they've been a pretty good program, better than Duke in their own conference, for sure, and going bowling in 2002. They have wins over Clemson, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Boston College, North Carolina, Purdue, and Oregon the past four seasons under current head coach Jim Grobe.

They've had three losing seasons with five, four, and four wins respectively the past three years. But this year they're 3-0 with wins over Syracuse, Duke, and UConn. Not an all-star lineup of football powers, but the 1-2 Rebels can't afford to take any 3-0 team lightly. And they won't.

This isn't some indepth analysis of the upcoming game, as you probably assessed from the first sentence on. I'm already dissecting the baseball and basketball squads and what they're doing. Chuck's got more info on football along with Yancy. I missed the month of August after all.

But what I haven't missed is the fact that it appears most of our fans are willing to give this program some time to grow up. There wasn't nearly the dissention and distortion on the message boards after the loss at Kentucky as I feared there'd be.

Some, yes, but I believe many felt the Rebels gave a good effort and had a shot. And if the turnovers and penalties had been reduced maybe they'd have gotten a victory.

So we talk among ourselves and take that deep breath or two and keep our chins up. But most of all we show up Saturday for gameday on the campus. Andrew Wicker, a team and program leader, has asked fans to stick with the Rebels even though times are tough. No doubt his teammates feel the same way.

No, the outcomes the past two weeks weren't what any of us wanted. Certainly Kentucky being an SEC game was a very important one.

But this Saturday at 5 p.m. it's SEC against ACC in Oxford. Although we all have our list of "who we'd like to see the Rebels play" and perhaps Wake wouldn't have made that many of them, this is an important game – for this year's team, for the future of the program, for the SEC as a whole. And of course there'll be recruits here – in football but also in other sports and prospective students as well. There would be other reasons but those are some.

Wake isn't expected to bring the number of fans other ACC schools like Clemson or Georgia Tech will when we play them in the years ahead. But the ones who do arrive wearing the gold and black need to know how important football is at Ole Miss. They need to be shown what gameday here is truly like. They've heard about it; now they want to experience it.

Go check out their message boards on the Wake Forest site of scout.com. You'll see their anticipation of the trip to The Grove and to Oxford. They need to experience this place with us at the top of our game, so to speak, which will be tough at 1-2. And then they can head home with their first loss.

Wake's best known football player ever is perhaps Brian Piccolo, and that's likely because of the way he played, lived, and died as much as anything, as the movie Brian's Song taught us. Many of the Deacon's notable heroes are in other sports, like Tim Duncan of the NBA, and golf's Arnold Palmer, who tops a long and impressive list of linksters who've made Wake Forest one of the country's best training grounds for the PGA Tour.

So somewhere in all the tangled web of emotions and fumbles and interceptions and losses, it sometimes just comes down to giving it the ole college try again and supporting, even when it's a difficult but right thing to do.

Andrew Wicker, who loves Ole Miss, basically told us this is one of those times just moments after the loss at Kentucky.

See you in The Grove Saturday…..and at the stadium.

OM Spirit Top Stories