Poll Watching

Waiting on the polls to be released has become even more important these days if you follow Ole Miss football.

Small-talking in the press box among reporters, Chris Talbott mentioned after the Memphis game he thought Ole Miss would be sixth or seventh in the AP poll this week. Talbott works for The Associated Press' Jackson office in the area of sports.

That means he covers the Rebels quite a bit and keeps up with the landscape of college athletics. He was pretty much on the money. But a lot of you had probably called it seventh or sixth for the Rebels this week, based on what happened the first weekend of the season.

Coaches and players know the polls and who is ranked where, or at least where their own team is ranked. They are fans, too.

But they downplay it and try to let the polls serve as conversation among fans and media. However it's probably hard for them to do when only five teams are ranked ahead of you.

There are 11 games to go in the regular season, though, and that alone is enough to keep coaches and players grounded and focused on the daily job at hand. For the Rebels, that means currently trying to get a host of players well as soon as possible.

There've been some battered and bruised Rebel teams in the past. It's not unusual for that to be the case. This early in the season it is, however. This time it's the flu situation that is the most alarming. No doubt the fact that there is no game this weekend is fortunate.

The national AP story that came out Tuesday along with the poll was written by Ralph Russo. He had Talbott's job in Jackson before heading to New York to the headquarters of the AP in Manhattan. Russo also had covered the Rebels for that period of time at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

It might not be of any help to the Rebels that Russo is up there as the AP's college football writer. But at least he is familiar with them. The story Tuesday was mostly about BYU upsetting Oklahoma. The only Ole Miss mention in the fairly lengthy offering was the following sentence.

"No. 6 Mississippi, No. 7 Penn State and No. 10 California round out the top 10."

Ohio State at No. 8 and BYU at No. 9 had already been mentioned in the story.

Moving up to No. 6 is significant, and if the Rebels keep it going, they'll get plenty of ink, as they have already this summer.

There were some pretty substantial jumps this week, like BYU moving from 20 to 9. Oklahoma dropped from 3 to 13. Georgia dropped from 13 to 21 after losing to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys jumped from 9 to 5.

There will be a lot of poll monitoring since the Rebels are up there. Who would have imagined a couple of years ago, or even a year ago at this time, that No. 8 Ohio State hosting No. 3 Southern Cal would be of such importance to Ole Miss fans like it will be this weekend?

With an open date to check out what's going on everywhere else, it will be a fun weekend watch for Rebel fans (and coaches and players) while everyone else beats up on each other and the Rebels try to get well.

There are several polls throughout the country. But along with the AP poll (voted on by writers), the USA Today Poll (voted on by coaches) is considered the standard in the polling business.

The Rebels are eighth in USA Today. Penn State and Ohio State are above them in that one; both are below Ole Miss in the AP poll.

Only week one of the season is in the record book, but poll-watching has become an even bigger event than usual among Ole Miss people.

Anybody going to be paying attention to No. 2 Texas at Wyoming (yes, you read that right - in Laramie), or Houston at No. 6 USA Today/No. 5 AP Oklahoma State, or No. 9 USA Today/No. 11 AP LSU at Vanderbilt a little closer this weekend?

I thought so.


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