It would be real nice to be able to dismiss the Ole Miss victory over Louisiana Tech today as "no big deal."
But that would mean things had been cruising along nicely prior to the encounter with the "junior" Bulldogs on the schedule.
We all know that's not the case. The Rebs came into the contest with LaTech 1-4 and needing a win, any win, desperately, to get their ship headed back toward dry land and out of harm's way of capsizing. It didn't matter how they got it done, just do it.
So, today was just what the doctor ordered and we all wished, hoped and prayed for - a mark in the lefthand column. No need to qualify it or label it other than to say it was a "W," because that was the only goal, on this day, that really and truly mattered.
What did the triumph today really accomplish? Bare bones analysis shows it's "just" a win over an outmatched opponent. At this moment, that seems like enough.
Under the surface, however, this contest meant much, much more.
The Rebel coaches and players have been talking for three weeks about not knowing how to win, not knowing how to get it done when it counted the most, not knowing how to close things out, not knowing how to finish.
While this was not a case of finishing/closing/winning against top-of-the-line competition, which Coach Ed Orgeron pointed out several times in his postgame press conference, it was a taste of what it takes, a modicum of finishing and a bite toward that meal of learning how to achieve victory.
It was a pactice test, so to speak, and the Rebs passed. The subject matter was defined and the questions were all - or mostly - satisfactorily answered.
This game digs into the psyche of the Rebel team. The Rebels remained as confident as possible through the first five games, but even Coach O said "I don't know how we can be a confident team" after four straight setbacks.
No, things weren't perfect. The offense sputtered a lot, the punting game was off, the run game was not up to Rebel standards and Seth Adams threw three uncharacteristic interceptions.
But the win over the Bulldogs should give the Rebels a shot of confidence and revive their hopes and dreams for the season. Mathematically, they can still achieve a lot.
The next three weeks will basically tell the tale if those dreams and goals of a winning season can be realized and there's nothing easy about who the opponents are - the triple A of the SEC - Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn.
But the Rebels are headed into those games on an up note. The sad song that had been the season up until the outing against Tech now has a less melancholy melody. The Rebs aren't dancing a jig, but they aren't singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" either.
Hope is a powerful weapon and emotion and I'm not sure there would have been much left had Louisiana Tech rolled into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and escaped with an upset win.
It will be up to the Rebels to capitalize off the victory, to feed off it, to build off it, to improve from it. The hope that they will has been temporarily bouyed.
Can they? That remains to be seen. Maybe, maybe not. But I can say one thing with relative confidence - they didn't have an ice cube's chance in hades if they hadn't pulled it off today.
Congrats, guys. Keep knocking at the door. It's now cracked, where before today it was slammeed shut.
Go ahead and break it down. You now have that opportunity.
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