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Where in the Top 25 Should the Ole Miss Rebels Be . . . and Should They Be Far From Georgia Tech?

August is upon us, which means it’s time for Brian to cull the BlogPoll (I managed to avoid getting booted out this year? whew!) and the coaches to release their preseason rankings. Naturally, I am already in full football mode, so I have been contemplating my initial top 25 for a while now.

In that vein, I would like to share a few thoughts on the Mississippi Rebels from regular Dawg Sports reader, Ole Miss alumnus, and my brother-in-law, rebelcraig, who wrote the following to me in an e-mail:

It seems that through the course of this off-season, Ole Miss has gone from everybody's favorite dark horse to everybody's pick to be the most overrated team in the country, all without having played a game yet. No doubt the truth is somewhere in the middle. If I'm making a power poll of the most talented teams in the country, Ole Miss is probably somewhere in the teens. But the schedule is so shamefully light that they're likely to be favored in all 12 regular season games. (Getting LSU and Bama in Oxford is the only reason this may be the case, but that's the way it's worked out this year.) So I guess everyone who's picking them near the top five must be doing so because they're predicting that the Rebs should be able to navigate that slate with few blemishes at the end.

My question at the moment though is this - why not Georgia Tech? Both teams went 9-4 last year. Both teams will be in the second year of a new coach's system, and both of those coaches established themselves as consistent performers in their last job. Both have a manageable schedule in a BCS conference. Both teams have the bulk of their talent returning (16 starters for Ole Miss, 18 for Georgia Tech). Both finished 2008 in strong fashion, although here's where the largest difference lies - Ole Miss beat a top 10 team in their bowl game, while GT got routed by an unranked SEC foe who had been previously beaten soundly by the Rebels. Still, anyone who's ranking Ole Miss sixth or seventh in the nation should by the same rationale be looking at Georgia Tech around at least ninth or tenth. But I don't really hear anybody doing so.

I didn’t really have a lot to offer in reply, except to say that (a) the two teams play in different conferences and (b) I think both teams are somewhat overrated.

As we learned the hard way last year, a dominant bowl performance at the end of one year can be misleading to the pollsters heading into the next, but I’m curious to learn what everyone thinks about the relative strengths of the Rebels and the Yellow Jackets.

Go ‘Dawgs!