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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 7:00 PM

It’s a rare sight indeed to have Ole Miss playing in a high profile TV game that represents a virtual “September bowl game” in Atlanta. That’s where teams like Alabama open their seasons…before finishing off league play in the SEC Championship game. What is MISSISSIPPI doing here?!

Well…believe it or not…this could actually be a magical year for the Rebels. They’re still longshots to win the SEC West behind more proven quantities like Alabama, Auburn, or LSU. But, they are legitimately in the discussion as a darkhorse contender this year because they return a lot of talent amidst other teams’ question marks.

We’ll talk about Mississippi’s talent in a moment. Those question marks?

*Defending champion Auburn will be dealing with a massive letdown year while having a target on their backs. It’s very tough for a Cinderella to stay a Cinderella two years in a row.

*Alabama will have a new starting quarterback, and only returns three starters on defense.

*LSU will have a new starting quarterback.

We’re not even including Texas A&M for now, who obviously is also breaking in a new quarterback in 2014 (see notes on the Aggies in yesterday’s edition of the NOTEBOOK that previewed A&M/South Carolina).

The powers are vulnerable…and Ole Miss has the profile of a dangerous sleeper…

 

OLE MISS

Record: 8-5 (beat Georgia Tech 25-17 in the Music City Bowl)

Rankings: 21 on offense, 38 on defense

Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 9 on defense

Quarterback: Bo Wallace (Senior star)

That’s an 8-5 record in a power year for this division when it was full of experienced, quality quarterbacks. That’s balance and effectiveness against a tough schedule. That’s NINE returning starters to a top 40 defense. And, that’s a star quarterback who could put the Rebels well ahead of most other divisional foes.

Needless to say…the stage is set for something special to happen. That doesn’t mean it will. It only means that handicappers have to be open to the possibility. Let’s see what Boise State will have to say about matters…

 

BOISE STATE

Record: 8-5 (lost to Oregon State 38-23 in Hawaii Bowl)

Rankings: 20 on offense, 75 on defense

Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 7 on defense

Quarterback: Grant Hedrick (Senior, started 7 games last season)

This program has faded in recent years. They are no longer a legitimate national power…and, are in fact fairly vulnerable in their own neck of the woods. They were outclassed by Oregon State in their bowl game…and it’s not like Oregon State was a superpower. Quarterback Hedrick got a lot of starts last year because of an injury to the prior starter. He’s “a game manager” in the best of times, and seems overmatched by quality. And, the program itself may be in store for a further fall because prior head coach Chris Peterson is now the head man at Washington. Bryan Harsin takes over, despite not wowing people as an assistant at Texas or as head coach at Arkansas State.

The market sure isn’t expecting much from Boise on the green turf of Atlanta…

 

Las Vegas Line: Ole Miss by 10, total of 54

 

Wow…Ole Miss is a double digit favorite on a neutral field! This tells you that both oddsmakers and sharps consider the team as a legitimate force in the conference. And, the smartest parts of the marketplace are down on Boise State in terms of its ability to compete nationally when stepping out of the Mountain West.

Can you take a shot on a big ugly underdog that may not be able to play well from behind against what might be an “us against the world” mentality at Ole Miss? Or, is that line way too high because the Rebels haven’t yet established that they can play consistently at the projected level?

This game is definitely on the radar of JIM HURLEY. It may or may not make the final cut, as NETWORK has a full slate of NFL exhibition games to consider, as well as other college matchups like Texas A&M/South Carolina and Rutgers/Washington State. You can always purchase the final word here at the website with your credit card in the hours before kickoff. If you have any questions about seasonal packages, or combination packages for football and baseball, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. Take care of business NOW because we’re just hours away from the start of the 2014 college football season!

Our football TV previews continue through Labor Day here in the NOTEBOOK. Then we’ll start gearing up for Week One in the NFL…

 

Friday:  College Football TV Preview…BYU at Connecticut

Saturday: College Football TV Preview…Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (Arlington)

Sunday: College Football TV Preview…Utah State at Tennessee

Labor Day: College Football TV Preview…Miami at Louisville

Tuesday: Tuesday: Final Look at AFC Market Estimates for Team Victories

Wednesday: Final Look at NFC Market Estimates for Team Victories

Thursday: NFL TV Preview…Green Bay at Seattle (pro season begins!)

You’ve been waiting all summer for football to arrive. IT’S HERE! You’ll be parked in front of the TV for hours Thursday Night. Get comfortable….because you’ll be GETTING THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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