SEC-Big 12 Preview 2015 – Ole Miss 2017-04-25T11:39:42+00:00
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Allstate Sugar Bowl Looks at Big 12-SEC 2015The Allstate Sugar Bowl secured its future through January 2026 with the announcement that it would host the champions of the Southeastern and Big 12 Conferences in eight of the 12 years between 2014 and 2025. If the champion of either or both leagues is selected for the College Football Playoff, a replacement team from that conference will play in the Sugar Bowl. In the four seasons that the Sugar Bowl is not hosting the Big 12 and the SEC (2014, 2017, 2020, 2023), it will serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal.

After last year’s Playoff Semifinal game, this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl will be the first as the official destination for the top available teams from the Big 12 and the SEC. To lead into the season, the Bowl is providing brief previews of each team in the leagues.

Ole Miss2014 Record: 9-4 (5-3, third in SEC West)

Bowl Projections
Athlon: Allstate Sugar Bowl vs. TCU
Sporting News: Texas Bowl vs. Texas
Phil Steele: Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin
ESPN (Schlabach): Music City Bowl vs. Louisville
ESPN (McMurphy): Tax Slayer Bowl vs. Louisville
AP: Liberty Bowl vs. Texas Tech

Key Returnees
Robert Nkemdiche (Jr., DT): 35 tackles, 2 sacks
Laquon Treadwell (Jr., WR): 48 catches for 632 yards, 5 TDs
Evan Engram (Jr., TE): 38 catches for 662 yards, 2 TDs, first team all-conference
Laremy Tunsill (Jr., LT): Second team all-conference
Tony Conner (Jr., S): 69 tackles, 1 sack, 8 TFL, 1 INT

Key Stat
Ole Miss allowed just 16 points per game last season, tops in the nation. And that number came despite giving up 87 points in their last three games after suffering a multitude of injuries on both sides of the ball.

Key Early Games
Sept. 12 vs. Fresno State (2:30 p.m. Central, ESPNU): After a likely warm-up game against FCS UT-Martin, the Rebels face an always challenging Fresno State squad. The keys to watch in this game will be juco transfer quarterback Chad Kelly, the nephew of former NFL star Jim Kelly, and the return of Laquon Treadwell, who broke his leg in the Auburn game last year.

Sept. 19 at Alabama (8:15 p.m. Central, ESPN): After trailing 14-3 at the half last year, Ole Miss rallied for a 23-17 victory over then No. 3 Alabama. That huge victory lifted the Rebels to No. 3 in the nation. Another win over the Crimson Tide would give Ole Miss a big boost in the rankings, but this year the game is in Tuscaloosa and the Tide will be looking for revenge.

Senior Spotlight
Mike Hilton is one of the more versatile players in the SEC, having played every position in Ole Miss’ defensive secondary. A 5-9 senior from Georgia, Hilton has 136 tackles, 13 for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, four interceptions and 15 passes defended. He earned Ole Miss’ Chucky Mullins Award; the award is presented annually to an Ole Miss upperclassman defensive player that embodies the spirit of Mullins – courage, leadership, perseverance and determination. Head coach Hugh Freeze praised Hilton’s versatility at SEC Media Days, “He understands that back end of our defense very well. We’re going to move him to start at safety to hopefully help replace Cody Prewitt, and we believe strongly he’s going to be a very solid player. But the fact that he can move around and play our husky, our nickel, corner, safety, he’s invaluable to us.”

YouTube Rebels
After having hopes of an SEC title or perhaps even a national title, Ole Miss saw injuries send their outstanding season into a tailspin with three straight SEC losses heading into the annual Egg Bowl rivalry game against archrival Mississippi State. Holding onto a slim 17-10 lead late in the third-quarter, Jaylen Walton created a sensational 96-yard TD run to break the game open for the Rebels who would win 31-17.