: Ole Miss may not have to wait another 700 days for its next SEC victory
COLUMBIA — Saturday will be a year to the day since South Carolina won a conference game. That’s in six chances.
But if you think that’s a long time, consider the animal that just came crawling off Ole Miss’ shoulders.
“Saturday was the first time we had won an SEC game in 700 or something days,” Rebels first-year coach Houston Nutt said this week. “That’s what they tell me.”
And talk about a way to break the nine-game conference losing streak — a painful skid that stretched from Nov. 25, 2006 to this past Saturday.
Ole Miss took down then-No. 4 Florida in Gainesville, knocking off a team that many had in the national title game.
Fittingly, the upstart Rebels (3-2) wound up on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.
Ifs are possible with any team in the nation, but Ole Miss has some hypothetical wiggle room.
If Wake Forest misses a last-second field goal and Vanderbilt can’t hop on a fumble in the end zone, the Rebs would be 5-0 and be the toast of the college football world.
As it is, Nutt will settle for baby steps as he gets things going. After all, it’s not like he had much to build on after an 0-8 SEC record last year that included a heartbreaking loss to Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.
Simplified, the Rebels needed to learn how to win.
“There was nothing to hang our hat on,” said Nutt, who jumped from Arkansas after last season. “It’s that kind of attitude that there’s nothing we could hang out hat on. The teaching process was a little longer than I expected. We expected to flip the switch and it change and say, ‘We’re going to start winning.’ It’s more difficult than that.”
Ed Orgeron’s short-lived coaching career at Ole Miss won’t be remembered for what happened on the field, but that he left the cupboard and fridge and everything else in the kitchen stocked with talent for Nutt.
After a couple of above-board recruiting classes, things were essentially set up for Nutt.
Quarterback Jevan Snead, a Texas transfer, was eligible after sitting out last season.
Receivers Shay Hodge and Mike Wallace were old enough to get the hang of things.
Athletic Dexter McCluster presented himself as the kind of player versatile enough to turn Darren McFadden and Felix Jones’ “Wild Hog” formation into the “Wild Rebel” set. McCluster, who sometimes lines up at quarterback, often winds up with an equal number of receiving and rushing yards.