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Cleveland: Q&A on Top 2 Mississippi Teams

Rebels move to a 4-0 record with a victory over Memphis
Rebels move to a 4-0 record with a victory over Memphis

So, you ask, when is the last time two Mississippi teams were undefeated and ranked as highly as Ole Miss and Mississippi State are this far into the season?
That would be never. Ever. Ole Miss was No. 6, State No. 11 when they both teed it up on Oct. 4, 1958, but back then both teams were just 1-0. And that State team would go on to finish 3-6. So here we are: Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State, Alabama vs. Ole Miss., 93 miles apart, in the two biggest games in all of college football this weekend.
You’ve got questions about this unprecedented Saturday of college football in the Magnolia State? I’ve got answers.
First and foremost, before you ask: No, I don’t have any extra tickets.
What else?
Q. Will Lee Corso put on a Colonel Rebel head or a Black bear head in his pre-game routine?
A. Not so fast, my friend. My guess is he’ll put on a elephant head.
Q. Is that good news or bad news for Ole Miss?
A. “Coach” Corso put on a Tiger (LSU’s) instead of a Bulldog (Mississippi State’s) two weeks ago. He put on a Gamecock (South Carolina’s) instead of a Tiger (Missouri’s) last Saturday. We report, you decide.
Q. As you say, we are in uncharted territory right now. Just what are the odds that Ole Miss or Mississippi State could win the National Championship?
A. The Vegas odds are 50 to 1 on State, 35 to 1 on Ole Miss. Want a comparison? Alabama is 6 to 1. Texas A & M is 10 to 1.
Q. Alabama and Mississippi State have had open dates leading into this huge weekend. What do you make of that?
A. A lot, actually. It’s a big advantage for both the teams coming off an open date, especially Mississippi State. Texas A&M was taken to the absolute limit by Arkansas in an emotional, physical game at Dallas Saturday. The guess here is the Aggies spent much time Sunday and Monday in hot tubs and/or ice baths. Man, Arkansas is physical. Also, the open date gave State extra time to prepare for a game without starting center Dillon Day.
Alabama? You never really want to face Nick Saban when he’s had an extra week to prepare.
Q. Enough of all this Alabama and Texas A&M discussion, who’s better, State or Ole Miss?
A. We will find out, won’t we? I’d rank them almost dead even at this point. State has certainly achieved more to date. But then, Ole Miss hasn’t yet had a chance to beat a team like LSU.
Q. Does Ole Miss have anybody who can cover Amari Cooper one on one?
A. No, but neither does anybody else. Cooper might be the best player in the country.
Q. How does 2014 Aggie quarterback Kenny Hill compare to Johnny Football?
A. If there’s a dropoff, I haven’t seen it. Hill is a playmaker, just like Manziel. But here’s my take on all that: At some point, we should be talking about Kevin Sumlin and not Manziel, Hill or, for that matter, Case Keenum (at Houston). Because it doesn’t seem to matter who plays quarterback for Sumlin, that quarterback puts up video game numbers.
Q. What’s your take on Alabama quarterback Blake Sims?
A. He’s good enough and getting better.
Q. Who you got, State or A & M?
A. State 30, A & M 24. I like the matchup for State, at home, with A & M coming off such a grueling game against Arkansas.
Q. Who you got, Ole Miss or Bama?
A. Alabama is the most talented team in the country and has had an extra week to prepare. Bama 24, Ole Miss 20.
Q. You sure you don’t have any tickets?
A. No, you?
images-1Rick Cleveland (rcleveland@msfame.com) is executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

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