2014 Mississippi Rebels College Football Preview
Head Coach: Hugh Freeze
2013-14 Record: 8-5, 3-5 Southeastern Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: 25-17 win over Georgia Tech in Music City Bowl
Odds to Win National Championship: +5342
Offense: 6, Defense: 9
Freeze shifted his up-tempo offense into high gear last season, as Mississippi eclipsed 500 total yards of offense in four of its final five home games, including a program-record 751 yards against Troy.
The Rebel offense finished last season with a school-record 6,153 total yards and ranked 21st nationally in that category, as it prepares to improve upon those numbers with six starters returning, including signal-caller Bo Wallace.
Joining Wallace in the backfield will be last year’s top two rushers in juniors I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton, who combined to gain 1,086 yards on the ground last year.
Laquon Treadwell headlines this year’s receiving corps after earning 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year honors—finishing with 72 catches and 608 yards and five touchdowns.
The main question mark for this unit is on the offensive line, as the group needs to replace three starters from last year who graduated.
The Rebels return nine starters from a group that ranked in the top 40 nationally in scoring defense, total defense and pass defense, with the leader of the unit being senior safety Cody Prewitt, who was named a first team All-American.
Mississippi welcomes back a pair of All-SEC selections in senior Serderius Bryant and junior Denzel Nkemdiche. Bryant had a career year in 2013—leading the program with 78 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss.
Perhaps the strongest group on this side of the football is the defensive line, with three starters returning and all eyes being focused on 2013 Freshman All-American Robert Nkemdiche.
The Rebels will be playing at the Georgia Dome for the first time in school history when taking on the Boise State Broncos in the season opener, but they may get caught looking ahead to their first conference game at Vanderbilt in Week 2.
Mississippi avoids the Big Three out of the East Division, but it still has to play on the road against Texas A&M and LSU in October.
College football handicappers need to consider the Rebels as a legitimate longshot to win the national title, but they’ll be challenged in a major way during the entire month of October.
Wallace must be more consistent under center for this program to reach the highest levels of the SEC, as he finished with just a 138.1 QBR a season ago.
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