Preseason Top 120 Countdown: No. 44 Ole Miss

There is good news and bad news. The good: The schedule sets up for a 5-0 start. But after that, the going gets tougher with road games against Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU. The Rebels’ season will be defined during a three-game stretch from Oct. 16-30, when Ole Miss plays at Alabama, at Arkansas and welcomes Auburn.

Last season, Ole Miss was a dark-horse pick to win the SEC West. This season, the Rebels may be fortunate to finish in the top half of the division after losing many key players from a 9-4 team that failed to live up to expectations. Still, Nutt has done a good job in his two seasons, capping each one with a Cotton Bowl triumph. Nutt’s top priority is finding a quarterback to replace Snead, who left a year early after a disappointing junior season. But it will be just as vital to replace McCluster and Hodge. In the end, this looks like a rebuilding season in Oxford.