A Familiar Tale

When Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt walked off the field following his team's 23-21 thriller over Arkansas a year ago, lingering emotions from 10 years prior could no longer be hidden.

Despite the stock answers of the preceding week, the Rebels had some added incentive in the burrows of Fayetteville that night, as a resounding rally cry throughout the team to grab a win for its head coach held true in an environment often unkind to Ole Miss.

Fast forward a year later, and current circumstances for Saturday's 11:21 a.m. meeting appear all-too-similar.

"It's the biggest game of year because it's the next game," Nutt said Monday, downplaying the significance of the second meeting against his former school.

"It's an SEC game. It's the time of year where it's big for everybody in this conference. Big for them. Big for us. Look down everybody's schedule in the SEC and this is a big week, period. Everybody knows this time of year in SEC play. It's a very big time of year."

But perhaps no bigger than for an Ole Miss squad still in search of a confidence-building win over a quality conference opponent.

Through six games, the Rebels hold an overall record of 4-2, with a disappointing 1-2 clip in SEC contests. A highly-anticipated season has shown an Ole Miss squad severely lacking in consistency, despite the best efforts of a defense ranking fifth in the conference for total yards allowed.

While the team has averaged 36.3 points per game, the Rebels have managed only 13 combined in losses to South Carolina and Alabama. Ole Miss has also reached 500 total yards of offense twice this season in wins, but was held to the fewest points and yardage since 2007 in two losses.

If any consolation, the unit was able to somewhat rebound following a dismal performance against the Crimson Tide, as Ole Miss totaled 501 yards of total offense in a 48-13 rout of UAB Saturday.

"It felt good to finally get out there and play good as an entire offense," junior quarterback Jevan Snead said. "Anytime you're able to put up points, it feels good. We had been stumbling until that game. Hopefully last Saturday will get us going for the rest of the season."

Sure, with six games remaining and hopes for lofty bowl aspirations still alive, one contest does not a season make or break. However, with almost equal records, both Ole Miss and Arkansas (3-3, 1-3) are in desperate need of victory.

Each team's schedule appears to stack up well down the stretch, though the Razorbacks are in better position with four straight home games against Eastern Michigan, South Carolina, Troy and Mississippi State following a trip to Oxford.

For the Rebels, an away date to Auburn looms next week, before returning home for three more with Northern Arizona, Tennessee and LSU.

Suffice it to say, a win Saturday for either side could be the springboard needed for a thrilling finish and prominent bowl berth.

"I definitely think (last season's matchup with Arkansas) was our springboard game and got us on a roll. I'm hoping last week (against UAB) is going to be that game this year and we get rolling from here," Snead said. "I know Arkansas is going to play with a lot of intensity. They have a great defensive line and a really strong defense overall. I'm looking forward to playing them. It should be a really good game."

And if late-season ramifications weren't enough, bad blood still carries added incentive for Ole Miss, according to senior cornerback Marshay Green.

"Coach Nutt's our coach. Everybody around here knows we want to get this win for him," he said. "This is a game we'll dedicate to Coach Nutt. We just come out every week and play hard. We leave it all on the field. Saturday, we want to leave it all out on the field and may the best team win."


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