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Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- April 26

Hugh Freeze and Ross Bjork embarked on the Rebel Road Trip, the baseball team claimed their weekend series over Alabama that featured the largest crowd of the season and the football program's NFL presence is expected to grow with the NFL Draft next weekend. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Headlined by Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze and athletics director Ross Bjork headlined the fourth annual BancorpSouth Rebel Road Trip that featured 13 fan meetings over six days. Both Freeze and Bjork noted the same energy but a different belief and optimism than their first Rebel Road Trip together in 2012.

- Here's what Freeze had to say about his fourth Rebel Road Trip, speaking to reporters after the event: "I enjoy the meetings and seeing the Rebel people," Freeze said. "We ask them to come to our campus so much that the least we can do is to get out and be with them. The most difficult part for me is just being so out of touch with our players with exam time coming up and academic issues. It's just a long week, but it's so much fun being with the Rebel people and the passion that they have."

- And here's Bjork: "It's hard to believe, but it's still the same energy. What's been cool is that just about every place has been packed, really with the exception of one place, and the energy that's out there as far as away as Baton Rouge. Everybody's fired up about Ole Miss. That's what makes this worthwhile to do it. People get excited to see you. Winning makes people believe and gives them confidence and puts what we've been talking about into perspective that we can do it."

- Bjork, who recently agreed in principle to a contract extension that will keep him at Ole Miss through 2019, spoke about many of the same talking points on the tour in a question and answer earlier this month. In case you missed it, here's the State of the Program from April 14.

- The Ole Miss baseball team completed a 3-2 week, highlighted by a Saturday doubleheader sweep and home series win over Alabama, to improve to 23-22 overall and 10-11 in SEC play entering the final 11 games of the regular season, including weekend series at Missouri and then home series against Mississippi State and Texas A&M.

- Barring any rainouts, Ole Miss needs to go 6-5 over the final 11 games to finish two games over .500 and head to the SEC Tournament with a cushion. Ole Miss is currently tied with Auburn for eighth place in the SEC standings, 3.0 games ahead of Tennessee/Mississippi State, both at 7-14, for the 12th and final place in the SEC Tournament.

"You keep everything in perspective, and obviously today was disappointing," said Austin Knight after their loss Sunday. "But getting two of three and playing as well as we did Saturday was a good sign for us."

- On the mound, Brady Bramlett and Scott Weathersby combined for the Rebels' first shutout of the season, while Christian Trent also turned in a brilliant start to lift Ole Miss to a doubleheader sweep on Saturday. On the other side, head coach Mike Bianco said they will weigh other options for the third spot in the weekend rotation going forward.

- Interesting stat: In the Rebels' 4-0 shutout win over Alabama on Saturday night, Bramlett and Weatherby combined for 11 strikeouts compared to zero walks.

- As a team, Ole Miss swung it better this week, breaking double digits for runs in two of the five games and hitting at a .368 clip for the week, raising the team batting average 15 points to .262 for the season. Connor Cloyd tallied a multi-hit game in each of the five games, hitting .565 (13-for-23) with six runs scored and six RBI.

- Interesting stat II: After not hitting a home run in his first 183 career at-bats, Austin Knight hit home runs in back-to-back at-bats, the last at-bat of Saturday night's game and the first at-bat of Sunday afternoon's game.

- The Ole Miss men's and women's tennis teams will learn their NCAA Tournament destinations when the women's field is announced on Tuesday at 4 p.m., followed by the men's field at 4:30 p.m. 

- The men, ranked No. 13 in the nation, are in good position to host the NCAA first and second rounds. The women, ranked No. 20 in the nation, are likely on the road for the NCAA first and second rounds, but perhaps because of their higher ranking, they will avoid one of the higher national seeds in the field.

- Senior Nik Scholtz, already the first Rebel to be named SEC Freshman and Player of the Year in a career, made some more history this past week. He was named to the All-SEC first team, becoming the first Rebel to be named to the All-SEC first team all four years.

- With three wins, two over Alcorn State and another over South Carolina, the Ole Miss softball team is one win shy of the most in school history, set during the 2005 season. The Rebels have four regular season games remaining, a midweek game at Mississippi Valley State and then a three-game series at Texas A&M, before starting play in the Southeastern Conference.

- Looking ahead to the 2015 football season, Freeze also spoke to reporters about the offseason strength and conditioning program for his team, headed by head football strength and conditioning coach Paul Jackson: "He'll have them ready. I have great trust in Paul and his staff, and he knows what he has to done for them to get into fall camp ready to roll."

- Also, in case you missed it, check out the Ole Miss football season tickets promo. Great work from Ole Miss Sports Productions.

- The Ole Miss football program is expected to add to its NFL presence with the 2015 NFL Draft next weekend, held Thursday through Saturday in Chicago and televised on ESPN and NFL Network. Cody Prewitt (No. 4 free safety, No. 124 overall player) and Senquez Golson (No. 16 cornerback, No. 129 overall players) are both projected fourth-round picks according to CBS Sports' latest NFL Draft prospect rankings

- Prewitt and Golson would become the second and third players drafted during the Hugh Freeze era, joining Donte Moncrief, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of last year's NFL Draft.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- March 1

The calendar turned to March, as the men's and women's basketball teams march toward the SEC Tournament and postseason play. The baseball team faced perhaps its biggest challenge of nonconference play. The softball and men's tennis teams each had another strong week, while the men's track and field team did something they had not done since 1984. All of that, and football spring practice begins this week. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team dropped a pair of games this past week at home against Georgia and on the road at LSU, two teams ranked in the top 50 RPI, and like the Rebels, also projected to be in the NCAA Tournament, heading into the last week of the regular season.

- Ole Miss, now 19-10 overall and 10-6 in SEC play, entered Saturday as the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament, and with the loss to LSU, they fell to the No. 6 seed in the SEC Tournament, with a road game at Alabama on Tuesday and a home game against Vanderbilt on Saturday. 

- Georgia and LSU, also 10-6, hold the respective tiebreakers over Ole Miss, but Georgia still has a home game against Kentucky and LSU still has a road game at Arkansas, so the Rebels may have an opportunity to move back up to the No. 4 seed with a sweep this week.

- For a closer look of what happened in the Rebels' road loss at LSU and their psyche going into their last regular season, check out my postgame blog from Baton Rouge here.

- Here's a reset of Ole Miss' NCAA Tournament resume entering the final week of the regular season: No. 50 RPI, 1-2 vs. the RPI top 25, 3-7 vs. the RPI top 50, 7-7 vs. the RPI top 100, 9-6 in home games, 7-4 in road games and 3-0 in neutral-site games. Alabama (No. 82) and Vanderbilt (No. 98) represent two more opportunities against RPI top 100 teams for the Rebels.

- As of the latest bracket projections Sunday, Ole Miss is a No. 9 seed in CBS Sports' Jerry Palm's bracket and a No. 11 seed in USA Today's Shelby Mast's bracket. Here's more from Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger, who talked to Palm and Mast about the Rebels' NCAA Tournament chances.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball team went 2-1 this past week week, highlighted by a 67-59 win over No. 13 Kentucky on Monday night. To make a strong case for the NCAA Tournament, the Rebels likely need to do some damage in the SEC Tournament next week, but they all but locked up a bid to the Postseason WNIT, which would be the program's first postseason appearance since the 2009-10 season.

- Ole Miss, now 17-12 overall and 7-9 in SEC play, has some opportunities ahead by virtue of earning the No. 8 seed in the SEC Tournament. They will play No. 9 seed Arkansas, a likely bubble team after going 0-2 this past week, and with a win over Arkansas, they would play No. 1 seed South Carolina, a likely No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which also boasts the No. 4 RPI in the nation.

- The No. 18 ranked Ole Miss baseball team faced their toughest tests of the young season, going 2-2 on the week, picking up a midweek home win over Arkansas State and taking one of three on the road from No. 15 UCF, handing the Knights their first loss of the season. 

- In a series where all three games were decided by one run, Ole Miss strung together quality at-bats in the ninth inning to score the go-ahead run, while Wyatt Short worked 2.2 scoreless innings of relief, giving up just one hit with no walks and four strikeouts in a 4-3 win over UCF on Sunday.

"To win the last game, you feel a little better going home," said head coach Mike Bianco on the Ole Miss Radio Network after the win. "We're close. Thats' a really good team over there and team playing with a ton of confidence, an older group, and not just an older group, but a talented group. They played really well, and you can see the confidence when they have to execute certain things. Those first two games, we came up short in a few of those areas, and that's all it takes in a close game, so we end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard."

- Also, in the 4-3 win, senior right-hander worked a season-long 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts. It was also his longest outing since going 7.0 innings strong against Georgia on May 11, 2014. It's encouraging to see a return to form from the SEC's most experienced weekend starting pitcher, to go along with Christian Trent on Friday and Brady Bramlett on Saturday.

"He still has a ways to go, but today, he was sharp with all four pitches and really located them well," Bianco said. "He seemed to make pitch after pitch. Today, he was so much more consistent. He looked confident and he had great body language. We need him. He's a big part of this, so certainly it was a great start for him."

- The Ole Miss softball team traveled to sunny Miami and went 4-1 on the weekend, improving to 12-5 on the season. After playing their first 17 games on the road, and having the Red & Blue Classic cancelled, as well as a home doubleheader against Southern Miss postponed, both due to inclement weather, the Rebels play their first home game Tuesday against Memphis, before opening SEC play with a three-game weekend series at No. 4 Alabama.

- The No. 10 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team swept its weekend home matches, picking up a 5-2 win over Tulane on Friday. and a 4-0 win over No. 16 Vanderbilt on Sunday. Senior Nik Scholtz, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, won his 16th and 17th consecutive home matches, defeating the No. 14 and No. 9 players in the nation. The win over Vanderbilt also gave head coach Toby Hansson a win in his first SEC match as head coach.

- The Ole Miss men's track and field team finished third at the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships, its best finish since 1984, when the Rebels also finished third. Overall on the weekend, the men's team took home SEC titles, including a 1-2 finish in the men's mile by senior Daniel Bulmer and sophomore Craig Engels.

- Speaking of the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championship, check out athletics photographer Josh McCoy's Day 1 and Day 2 photo galleries from the event, as well his collection of snow day photos, taken Wednesday on the Ole Miss campus.

- In case you missed it, check out one of Ole Miss Sports Productions' latest offerings, "The Flagship," an Ole Miss football ticket promotion video.

- Former Ole Miss players Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt participated in on-field workouts at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine on Monday in Indianapolis. They will later participate in Ole Miss' annual pro day on March 5 (closed to the public) and will wait to hear their names called at the 2015 NFL Draft, which will be held from April 30-May 2. 

- In the latest NFL Draft prospect rankings from CBS Sports, released after the combine, Prewitt is the No. 63 overall prospect (No. 1 free safety) and a projected second-round pick, while Golson is the No. 127 prospect (No. 16 cornerback) and a projected fourth-round pick. For more, check out my recap of their respective days at the Combine.

- Also, looking ahead, Ole Miss will begin spring football practices on Tuesday, which will include Hugh Freeze's pre-spring press conference at the Manning Center at 1 p.m. Spring practices will conclude with the 2015 Regions Bank Grove on April 11 at noon CT.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Jan. 4

Observations from the Best Seat in the House is back, having taken a week off for the Christmas holidays and traveled to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The football team finished the season in a "New Year's Six" bowl, the men's basketball team closed out non-conference play, the women's basketball team opened Southeastern Conference play and the spring sports draw nearer. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss football team ran into a buzz saw in No. 6 TCU, a team playing like it was motivated by the College Football Playoff snub and should have been in the four-team playoff. The 42-3 loss to the Horned Frogs marked the first bowl loss under head coach Hugh Freeze and the worst bowl loss in program history.

"TCU is a very good team," Freeze said. "They deserved every mention they got this year to be in the hunt for one of the four.  They certainly, rightfully, deserve to be in it with the others.... To pick the four is a very difficult task.  They certainly could compete with any of those in it, no question in my mind."

- It's easy for fans to be disappointed by the end of the season, but credit is due to Freeze and the 2014 team, particularly the seniors, many of whom were freshman during a 2-10 season in 2011. They helped lead the program to three straight bowl games for the first time since 1998-2000 and their nine wins are its most in a season since 2009. History will be kind to this team, as the underclassmen on this year's team look to take the program to the next level in the years to come.

"I'm extremely proud of our kids and how they've turned this program, in three short years, to being relevant and competitive. I'm just sick that it wasn't that way for them today," Freeze said.

- Playing in his last collegiate game, senior cornerback Senquez Golson provided a bright spot in the game, as he tied the school record with his 10th interception of the season, the 16th of his career, which is tied for third place in Ole Miss. A projected second-day NFL draft pick, Golson remains undecided on his plans for the spring, whether it's playing baseball or preparing for the NFL Draft.

- He did not want to go out the way he did, saying as much to the media in the postgame press conference, but just as history will be kind to this year's team, it will likely be kind to senior quarterback Bo Wallace. He had his ups and downs, and he would probably be the first to admit that, but he finishes his Ole Miss career with school record for career total offensive yards (10,478), and with 24 wins as the team's stating quarterback, he is tied with Eli Manning as the winningest quarterback in modern Ole Miss history. Among those 24 wins: Three top-10 wins, including No. 1 Alabama, two Egg Bowl wins and two bowl wins.

- Much was made about the SEC's bowl performance and the SEC East's 5-0 record and the SEC West's 2-5 record, headlined by the 0-3 record by SEC West team in the "New Year's Six" bowl games. With that being said, a couple of things to consider: The SEC tied its own record the most conference bowl wins in college football history. When comparing the records of the two divisions, be sure to look at their bowl game opponents, which includes the nation's No. 4, No. 6, No. 12 and No. 18 teams for SEC West teams. Also, should one bowl game carry more weight than the 12-game or 13-game regular season when comparing divisions and conferences?

- Speaking of the "New Year's Six," the new format pulled in historic ratings. The first half of the "New Year's Six" delivered the most-viewed and highest-rated New Year's Eve triple header on an ESPN network on record, including an average of 5,013,000 views and a 3.4 US rating for No. 6 TCU and No. 9 Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. The semifinals on New Year's Day then delivered the largest two audiences in cable television history and the highest overnight rating for a non-championship game on ESPN and ABC, with a 15.5 rating for No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl and a 15.3 rating for No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. I look forward to seeing the numbers for the College Football Championship on Monday, Jan. 12.

- Looking ahead to next season, Ole Miss will have perhaps its two best offensive players in sophomore wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and sophomore offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil coming off season-ending injuries, as Tunsil suffered a broken fibula in the loss to TCU. David Chao, MD, a former NFL head team physician, said on Twitter that type of injury requires surgery, but Tunsil could make a recovery in four-to-six months. Freeze said Treadwell, now out of the boot, will recovered by about the start of spring practice, expecting him to participate in some of spring practice.

- But the biggest question heading into the offseason and the 2015 season? The quarterback position. The Rebels signed the nation's top junior college quarterback in Chad Kelly, and we'll know more about his future with the program in the coming days. And then there's redshirt freshmen Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade, neither of whom has separated from the other through two seasons working behind Bo Wallace. It will be something to watch.

- Other questions heading into the offseason and 2015 season? Who does Freeze hire to replace linebackers coach Tom Allen on his coaching staff? After signing four on junior college national signing day, including the nation's top quarterback, defensive tackle and cornerback, how does Ole Miss finish up its recruiting class on National Signing Day (Feb. 4)? How do Treadwell, Tunsil, among others recover from season-ending injuries? That and more, we'll all have to sit back and watch.

- Speaking of looking ahead to 2015, here's Chase Parham's annual look at 10 dates that are significant for Ole Miss during the next calendar year. A must-read for all Rebel fans, if you haven't already checked it out.

- While in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, I had the opportunity to visit and tour the College Football Hall of Fame. Wow. If you're a college football fan and haven't yet visited the museum in downtown Atlanta, you need to make plans to do so. 

When you walk in, you see a three-story-high wall of helmets representing the 768 teams that play college football at the FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III and NAIA level. When you walk upstairs, you walk through the history of college football, whether it's through exhibitions, many of which are interactive, or through films. And then there's some Ole Miss flavor, from a "Speed Limit 18" sign, to an Archie Manning 1970 magazine cover, to a game ball from the 2011 seven-overtime game against Arkansas, and then the helmet wall, films and interactivity of the exhibits will blow you away.

- As part of bowl week, I also had the opportunity to visit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital, shadowing three of team's 21 seniors in Cody Prewitt, Billy Busch and Charlie Scott. It was great to watch the players interact with the patients, sharing stories and brightening their day. It gave you perspective. 

Another senior, Lavon Hooks, said it best: "It was a great opportunity getting to hang out with kids that might not get the same opportunities as us. It brightened my day, just being able to give back. I think it brightened their day, too, getting to play and hang out with some people they may see on TV and look up to."

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team had an interesting non-conference, defeating Creighton, Cincinnati away from Oxford, while losing to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky on their home floor. The Rebels closed out the non-conference slate with a 9-4 record, rolling past Austin Peay 92-63 on Saturday. Ole Miss shot a season-best 54.8 percent from the floor, but head coach Andy Kennedy was most pleased by 23 assists on 34 made field goals.

"There have been a lot of things I was not expecting," said Kennedy of non-conference play. "I felt like the continuity would be a little better because we had more experience. The reality is we are still integrating new guys into the way we do things. It took us a while to figure out who's best with whom. This team needs to share the ball. We have to help each other get shots."

- Preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers has come on strong entering the start on SEC play. He has scored in double figures in each of his last three games, including a team-high 18 points in the win over Austin Peay.

"Tonight as we were making that push, he was the guy that was being the player we need him to be," said Kenned of Summers, the Rebels' second-leading scorer. "My hope is he's getting back into a rhythm. He understands the importance that he brings to this team."

- The Rebels open SEC play on Tuesday when they play on the road at No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena. Kennedy and Summers both stressed the importance of making jump shots and keeping the Wildcats off the offensive glass to keep the game close and give themselves a chance at the upset.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball team opened SEC play, defending their home court in a 71-57 win over Arkansas and then playing No. 11 Kentucky to the wire in a 64-58 loss on the road in Lexington. The Rebels led for 25:59 of the game, before a 6-0 run over the final 2:22 sealed the win for the Wildcats. Despite the loss, head coach Matt Insell and his team proved they're going to be a tough out for opponents this season.

- With the turn of the calendar, the start of the spring sports draw nearer, and something is whether three-time All-American and reigning SEC Player of the Year Nik Scholtz elects to return for his senior season in men's tennis. The Caledon, South Africa, native played in various Futures tournament this past summer and fall. With Scholtz, the Rebels would return six of their top seven player from last season, in addition to talented newcomers Gustav Hansson of Sweden and Zvonimir Babic of Croatia. 

A couple of dates to watch, as far as a possible return for Scholtz, are Jan. 7, when Ole Miss opens the 2015 season in the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational, Jan. 21, when Ole Miss classes begins, and Jan. 24, when Ole Miss begins play in the ITA Kickoff Weekend.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Dec. 14

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With final exam week on the Ole Miss campus, there was not much game action, but there's still plenty to talk about, as Ole Miss finalized salary increases for head football coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the football team moved one week closer to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 31. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Freeze's new $4.3 million base salary is tied for third among Southeastern Conference head coaches and tied for seventh nationally. It increases to $5 million if the Rebels advance to the SEC Championship Game, which would be tied for second among SEC coaches and tied for tied fourth nationally.

- Also, as part of the same release, Ole Miss announced it will unveil plans, including visuals and timelines, for the expansion of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Monday, so stayed tuned for those.

- The first-ever two-time winner of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, Deterrian Shackelford was honored for his community service and off-the-field contributions, winning the Wuerffel Trophy and being elected the AFCA Good Works Team Captain.

- The Ole Miss Alumni Association will hold its bowl bash on Tuesday, Dec. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. More details here. As we get closer to Dec. 31, be sure to visit and bookmark Ole Miss Bowl Central and Chick-fil-A Bowl Central and stay tuned to @OleMissFB and @CFAPeachBowl for all things Chick-fil-A Bowl related.

- There might be a few more video between now and Dec. 31, but here are two videos to check out from Ole Miss Sports Productions: The 2014 season highlight video and the official team Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl preview video. Great work, as always.

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team moved to 6-3 on the season, suffering its third home loss in five such games this season. The Rebels led by as many as 17, and as many as 16 in the second half, but they were unable to overcome a second-half rally from Western Kentucky in an 81-74 loss Saturday.

"It's unacceptable, quite frankly," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "It's unacceptable for me, it's unacceptable for our team. I've tried and tried and tried to infuse pride. It's hard to infuse that, I have learned. We have really tried everything we could to get them to understand the importance of protecting home floor because it's so difficult to win on the road." 

- As many others noted, preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers was held to single-digit scoring for the fourth straight game against WKU. In each of the Rebels' three losses this season, he has scored just eight points.

"Basically, just got to do what I've got to do," Summers said. "I can't make no excuses. I have to get in some rhythm. It's frustrating. I can't pout. I can't cry about it. I have to continue to put the work in." 

- On the positive side, Stefan Moody led the Rebels in scoring for the fourth straight game, which has included 26 points against Cincinnati, 22 against Oregon, and most recently, 25 against WKU. He's averaging 21.3 points and has gone 14-of-27 from 3-point range during the four-game stretch.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball team rebounded from back-to-back losses with perhaps its most complete performance of the season, cruising to an 88-48 win over South Alabama on Sunday. With the win, the Rebels have a chance to go 10-3 for its best non-conference record since the 2011-12 season.

- In the win over South Alabama, five players scored in double figures and the Rebels shot a season-best 53.2 percent from the field. Defensively, Ole Miss forced 31 turnovers and held South Alabama to 29.5 percent shooting, including just four made field goals and 14 points in the second half.

- Not Ole Miss related, but if you haven't already, you should check out this Marcus Mariota Heisman tribute video from the University of Oregon Athletic Video Department. Great stuff. Mariota won the award, receiving 90.9 percent of the possible points in voting, the second-highest percentage ever. 

- On an Ole Miss-related note, the Rebels will face Heisman Trophy fourth-place finisher, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Ole Miss has already faced and defeated the third-place (Alabama's Amari Cooper) and eight-place (Mississippi State's Dak Prescott) finishers for the award.

- Ole Miss will have at least two representatives in the NFL Playoffs, as Brandon Bolden's New England Patriots and Donte Moncrief's Indianpolis Colts clinched division titles Sunday. Check out this story on Moncrief from Stephen Holder on the Indianapolis Star.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Nov. 16

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The Ole Miss football team was off, but it was a busy week in Ole Miss athletics nevertheless, as the men's and women's basketball teams opened their respective seasons. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss football team did not play Saturday, but the Rebels got the help they needed to remain in the Southeastern Conference Western Division race, as Alabama defeated Mississippi State and then Georgia defeated Auburn. To win the SEC West, Ole Miss still has to win on the road at Arkansas and at home against Mississippi State, and then Auburn must defeat Alabama on Nov. 29.

- On the other side, in the SEC Eastern Division, Missouri controls its own destiny at 8-2 overall and 5-1 in SEC play, with games remaining on the road at Tennessee and at home against Arkansas. If Missouri falters, Georgia would win the SEC East title at 6-2 in the SEC.

- Speaking of Arkansas, the Razorbacks were going to beat somebody, and they finally did it by shutting out LSU 17-0 to snap their 17-game losing streak. Stat of the game: Arkansas held LSU to just 123 yards of total offense.

- Bruce Feldman wrote about Body Blow theory last year, as it related to Stanford football. The same theory can perhaps be applied to this week's Ole Miss-Arkansas matchup. SEC teams are just 1-4 in games the week after playing LSU with the lone exception being Alabama's 25-20 win over Mississippi State.

- If Ole Miss defeats Arkansas and Mississippi State defeats Vanderbilt, Nov. 29 sets up for another memorable day in the SEC Western Division. Ole Miss and Mississippi State would both remain in the SEC Western Division race, while Alabama would control its own destiny and Auburn would look to play spoiler.

- Ole Miss moved up two spots to No. 8 in the Associated Press and coaches polls by virtue of losses by Arizona State and Auburn. The Rebels are the highest-ranked two-loss team in the country

- The men's basketball team dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Charleston Southern in its season opener. Ole Miss went 19-of-63 from the field and 6-of-30 from 3-point range, but it was unable to overcome a 54-50 rebounding deficiency, as the Buccaneers won the game 65-64 on a tip-in dunk with 0.1 seconds left in overtime.

"I have been doing this for 10 years, and I have never had one like this," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "You have to do your best to learn from it. It's easier said than done. It's going to hurt. You want it to hurt. They were stunned in there. They should be."

- One of the bright spots was the play of junior guard Martavious Newby, who led the team with 14 points and seven rebounds. He's a stabilizing force and calming influence, providing a toughness that Kennedy said he hopes can become more contagious and spread throughout the team.

- The women's basketball team is off to a 2-0 start with wins over Grambling State and Mississippi Valley State. Ole Miss suffocated MVSU, as they held the Lady Devilettes to just 38 points and forced 46 turnovers, turning them into 51 points off turnovers.

"I have coached teams that have forced that number of turnovers," head coach Matt Insell said. "That's a number we look at. We can gauge our hustle on how many turnovers we force and how many deflections we get. Sometimes you may not turn a team over a lot, but you get a lot of deflections. That's just as good as a turnover. We really gauge a lot of what we're doing on turnovers, deflections and steals. If those numbers are high, we played pretty darned good defensively."

- Newcomers make up six of the top seven scorers, with five of them already finishing in double figures this season. Leading the way, however, is senior forward Tia Faleru averaging 21 points and 12.5 rebounds through two games. She also became the 26th 1,000-point scorer in program history.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Oct. 26

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In this week's edition of Observations from the Best Seat in the House, Metz Camfield and I teamed up to give you our thoughts and opinions of the week that was in Ole Miss athletics. I was able to travel with the football team to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for Saturday's SEC West showdown between Ole Miss and LSU. Here's what we have looking back on the previous week:

Austin Miller - Give a lot of credit to the Ole Miss "Landshark" defense that gave the team a chance Saturday, forcing four turnovers and limiting LSU to 10 points in four red-zone trips, but the offense couldn't take advantage of their opportunities, particularly late in the game.

"Our kids fought," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "Our defense gave us a chance to win the game, to be in the game, but we could not manage any points."

AM - Offensively, LSU bludgeoned the Ole Miss defense, executing 55 run plays compared to 16 pass plays, as the Tigers rushed for 264 yards. The two scoring drives for LSU: 17 plays, 90 yards, 9:07 and 13 plays, 95 yards, 5:59, featured a combined 25 run plays.

"They just wore us down and kept the ball from us," Freeze said. "We didn't have but maybe two possessions in the second quarter. They just ate the clock, and they're really good up front. That offensive line is really solid, and their backs are really good. That's the first time we've faced an offense quite like that."

AM - Defensively, LSU held Ole Miss to 107 yards of total offense in the second half, forcing five straight punts to start the half, including four three-and-outs. The Rebels finally put together some first downs on their last two drives, which ended in a turnover on downs and an interception with two seconds left.

"They were pretty good, number one," Freeze said. "They were able to stay in two-high on first and second down and stop our run game. We struggled there with (left tackle) Laremy (Tunsil) out for most of the second half, and we had to move some people around. That caused us some issues with playing younger kids, and they struggled a little bit in this environment against a really good defense."

AM - The Ole Miss defense extended two impressive streaks, having forced at least one turnover in 31 straight games and having allowed 20 or fewer points in 10 straight games. Both are the longest active streaks in the FBS.

AM - Another bright spot, in addition to the stingy, opportunistic Ole Miss defense, was the punting brilliance of Will Gleeson who landed four of his six punts inside the 10-yard line. For the season, he has landed 20 of his 38 punts inside the 20-yard line.

AM - Ole Miss played in front of a stadium-record crowd for the second straight road game (102,321), the second-largest crowd Ole Miss has ever played in front of, and it had an impact on the game. Maybe it did not a significant impact, but it had an impact nonetheless. Personally, Saturday night was as loud a stadium as I have ever heard covering Ole Miss.

AM - The history backs it up, as LSU improved to 46-3 during Saturday night home games under head coach Les Miles with the three losses coming against teams that were either ranked No. 1 at the time of the game or reached No. 1 at some point during that season.

Metz Camfield - I thought it was interesting that after the win the LSU fans rushed the field. For Ole Miss, this should come as a sign of respect and another sign of the "new normal." The football program has now gotten to a point where a win by an opposing team is so significant that its fans rush the field.

AM - Two more impressive stats that speak to LSU under Miles: The Tigers are now 21-16 when trailing at halftime, and it was their 24th fourth-quarter comeback.

AM - As Freeze noted in his postgame press conference and CBS Sports bracketology/bowls expert Jerry Palm notes here, Ole Miss remains in control of its destiny in the SEC Western Division and likely the College Football Playoff.

MC - The Rebels' dream season is still very much in tact, as Ole Miss has just one loss and a number of highly-ranked opponents still on the schedule. If Ole Miss wins out, it will represent the Western Division in the SEC Championship game and will almost be guaranteed a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoffs thanks to a number of impressive wins.

AM - Looking ahead, Ole Miss hosts Auburn in a de facto playoff game featuring one-loss teams. Two things to watch this week: An injury update from Freeze on Monday, including the status of Denzel Nkemdiche, Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil, Cody Prewitt and Ben Still, and the release of the first playoff committee rankings on Tuesday.

AM - The Ole Miss soccer team picked up three big points, rallying past Vanderbilt 2-1 on the road, ahead of their final regular-season match against Tennessee at 7 p.m. Thursday. Both teams will be looking to secure a spot in the 10-team SEC Tournament. It's also Senior Night for goalkeeper Kelly McCormick, the all-time wins leader for a goalkeeper at Ole Miss.

AM - Congrats to former Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief, now of the Indianapolis Colts, who hauled in seven catches for 113 yards and his first career touchdown.

AM - In case you missed it, here's a unique video from Ole Miss Sports Productions: Landshark Symphony set to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Oct. 5

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It's Sunday, so that means it's time for this week's Observations from the Best Seat in the House. There was no shortage of observations this week. Let's get into it:

1. It's the day after, and I still can't believe yesterday happened. Ole Miss became the epicenter of college football, from ESPN's "College GameDay," to Katy Perry, to the game itself, to the celebration and national attention that followed. It could not have been a better day for the football program, athletics department and the university itself.

"Let's utilize the filter, the platform and the marketing power of athletics to then help the entire university," said Athletics Director Ross Bjork earlier this week. "This is one of those examples that because of athletics the university can be put on a pedestal in a great way to showcase all the great things that are happening. That's a responsibility that we take very seriously. 

"We're not the most important thing, but we happen to be the most visible and this will be one of those examples where because of athletics that visibility takes hold and now we can show the world how beautiful our campus is and the hospitality of the Ole Miss family."

2. Let's start with "College GameDay." The crew loved it and the fans loved the show's first visit to the Grove, to the tune of the highest overnight rating this season. The passion and hospitality of Ole Miss fans and the beauty and atmosphere of the Grove were on full display. 

And depending on future results, the show may make a return later this season, either Nov. 1 vs. Auburn or Nov. 29 vs. Mississippi State.

3. Beside the bliss of standing within shouting distance of Katy Perry as she made her way to the GameDay set to make her picks, which was a great moment for me, she was great for Ole Miss. With her fame and popularity, she got people to tune into GameDay and then promptly stole the show. 

She picked the Rebels, which started a full-on embrace of Ole Miss and Oxford, as she hugged the Black Bear mascot, became a regular on the Jumbotron wearing an Ole Miss visor, stormed the field with the masses of fans and then celebrated with them at the bar at Funky's. I can't begin to describe what her ties to Ole Miss, if even for a day, means to the university.

4. There are a lot of places you can start with the game itself, but I'm going to start with Bo Wallace. 

The much-maligned quarterback had his day, much like Andrew Ritter had against LSU last year, becoming the first quarterback since Eli Manning to defeat Alabama.  

He completed 18-of-31 passes for 251 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, completing each of his final three pass attempts for 57 yards and two touchdowns with the game on the line. "Good Bo, Bad Bo" had been the popular narrative entering the game, one that Wallace hoped to have rid of once and for all.

"That thing's the most annoying thing I've ever heard," Wallace said. "I also feel like I'm the only quarterback in the nation who throws interceptions. Hopefully I can be 'Good Bo' the rest of the year."

5. When called upon, to keep Ole Miss in the game in the first half and then win the game on the final drive, the Rebels defense rose to the challenge as they have all season. Sound familiar?

The Ole Miss defense allowed just 10 points, despite facing an Alabama offense that entered the game averaging 42.0 points. The Rebels also created two timely turnovers, one of which led to the game-winning touchdown, and the other effectively ended the game.

6. Including the fumble returned for a touchdown by Alabama, the Ole Miss defense has given up just four touchdowns this season, the fewest in the nation. The Rebels also rank second in scoring defense, giving up just 10.2 points per game, and rank fifth in total defense (277.6 ypg) and yards per play allowed (4.1 yard per play). 

7. To quote the great philosopher Drake, the Ole Miss senior class started from the bottom, and now they're here.

From a forgettable 2-10 season, to a 5-0 start and a top-five national ranking. There are a lot of talented underclassmen on the roster, but these seniors who stayed have showed out themselves and have provided invaluable leadership so far this season.

"After the 2-10 season and we lost our head coach, a lot of players were thinking about getting out," senior Senquez Golson said. "I almost left to go play baseball and we talked to the coaches and we just decided to stay."

8. For the historic 2013 signing class, Saturday was another moment of validation, the first win over a top-ranked team in program history and the Rebels' first win over Alabama since 2003. They all played big roles in the win and creating a "new normal" in Oxford.

"I came here with the 2013 class to change the culture around here," said sophomore Robert Nkemdiche, the consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation from that class. "We came to do something different. I could have gone to Alabama or LSU, but I wanted to come here and make a difference. And that's what we have done. I'm really proud of ourselves."

9. Ole Miss' win over Alabama was just one shockwave as part of Shakeout Saturday that saw five of the top eight teams in the AP poll lose on the same weekend. Florida State, Auburn and Baylor survived, while Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA joined Alabama in defeat.

10. As part of the shakeout, Ole Miss moved into a tie with Mississippi State for No. 3 in the AP poll. And with Auburn at No. 2, three of the top four teams in the AP poll reside in the SEC West. Mississippi State hosts Auburn and ESPN's "College GameDay" this Saturday.

11. The eyes of college football descended on Ole Miss. To see what everyone is saying in local and national news and the best tweets from Saturday and Sunday morning, click here.

12. There are a lot of great photos and videos out there from Saturday. Here is a photo of the mass of fans storming the field, a video of fans tearing down the goal posts and a video of the game-winning touchdown.

13. Speaking of photos and video, Josh McCoy did yeoman's working covering the days leading up to and including "College GameDay" and the win over Alabama. Check out his gallery from the Alabama game here

And a tip of the hat to Michael Thompson, Micah Ginn and the rest of the marketing and productions staff for creating a big-time atmosphere in the stadium to match the big-time atmosphere in the Grove. 

14. I would stay tuned for what might be the best episode of "The Season: Ole Miss Football" yet. 

15. Lost in the euphoria of "College GameDay" and the historic win over Alabama, volleyball head coach Steven McRoberts and his team had a signature moment of their own. Missouri came in as the defending SEC Champion with a 20-match conference win streak, and the Rebels swept the Tigers 3-0 in front of a nationally-televised audience on the SEC Network.

"It's huge," said junior Nakeyta Clair who led the team with 14 kills and a .500 hitting percentage in the match. "It shows not only us, but it shows our fans that we can do it this year. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves this year. It didn't faze us they were SEC champs last year."

16. Senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick tied the school shutout record with the Ole Miss soccer team's 1-0 win at Alabama on Sunday. The Rebels grabbed four points on the road this weekend, as they also played Auburn to a 2-2 draw Friday.

17. The Ole Miss men's basketball team opened fall practice Friday, and the team's trip to the Bahamas in August is already paying dividends. Don't forget Square Jam is set for Friday, Oct. 17, the day before the football team's homecoming game against Tennessee, and the men's and women's basketball teams open their respective seasons Friday, Nov. 14.

"We're so far ahead based on what we had the opportunity to experience in the Bahamas," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We have been with this team for 10 practices in July and August, and then we had two games in the Bahamas, so I feel much further along with this group. 

"We already put in some of our baseline stuff so that we can start to make adjustments based on what we saw this summer. Our foundation is pretty much set. Now, we're building off that based on the skill-set of our players."

18. Two former Ole Miss Rebels in Aaron Barrett (Washington) and Lance Lynn (St. Louis) are still playing in the MLB Playoffs. He took a no-decision, but Lynn worked six strong innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts and two walks in Game 2 of the NLDS against Los Angeles on Saturday.

19. Looking ahead, it doesn't get any easier for the football team as Ole Miss travels to No. 14 Texas A&M this Saturday. With an 8 p.m. kickoff on ESPN, Kyle Field should be rocking. A trademark under head coach Hugh Freeze has been a team that bounces back from the highest highs and the lowest lows, but the spotlight has never shined as bright as it does right now.

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    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

    in post Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

    in post Rebels Unable to Send Senior Class Out on a High Note

    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

    in post Late Mistake Spoils Chad Kelly's Historic Performance

    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

    in post Heisman House Tour Heads to Oxford for Ole Miss-Georgia

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    in post Madden 17 Ratings for Former Rebels

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