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Vassallo: College Playoff System Gets A "Sneak Preview"

Ole Miss’ running game will test the vaunted Tide defense. All photos by Amelia Camurati.

Possibly the best four teams in the nation will (ironically) all be playing in Mississippi this weekend. I’m referring to Alabama; Texas A&M; Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
Collectively these four are 17-0 on the season and all ranked between 1 and 14 inmost polls.
Politics aside, the normal voting in the standard polls is based more on regional bias than performance. Here’s a perfect example. UCLA now is in front of Ole Miss.
Based upon their one common opponent (Memphis) UCLA would have difficulty staying on the field with this Ole Miss team. The Rebel defense held the Tigers to 3 points and a little over 100 total yards. On the other hand, the Bruin defense allowed 35 points and almost 500 total yards! Yet Ole Miss is looking “up” to UCLA in the most recent poll. What an insult!
The Rebels hope to be celebrating a lot on Saturday.

Unfortunately, all of the above four are all located in the same division of the same conference, which translates into six games among the group and six losses. No doubt, two or three of these “powerhouses” will eliminate themselves from any consideration for the four team playoff. Is this fair? Hardly!
The selection committee of 13 must deal with won-loss records and rightfully so, but they are also charged with considering “strength of schedule.” If this is correct, and I pray that it is, it will be virtually impossible not to have at least two SEC teams in the final shootout. Trying to be “politically correct” when selecting college football teams is an injustice of enormous proportions.
Turning to the new football capital of America, Oxford, Miss., the jury is still out on which team will leave Vaught-Hemingway Saturday victorious. A long time observer of Ole Miss football, Scott Martinez, has been following Reb football intensely for the previous 22 years, before most of this year’s student body arrived on earth. Here’s how Scott sees it: Ole Miss 24 Alabama 10.
Scott is convinced our defense can shut down Bama’s committee of one (Amari Cooper) in the passing game. I concur with this assessment. Bama will try to set up the pass once they establish the running game. Our defense must rise to the occasion and shut down their running game. If we can accomplish this, the elephants will resemble more of Hannibal attempting to cross the Alps. Turnovers, as usual, will contribute significantly to the final outcome. Should we out duel Bama in this category, victory will definitely be on our radar scope.
The Ole Miss defense held Memphis to only 13 first downs throughout the game.
The Ole Miss defense held Memphis to only 13 first downs throughout the game.

Let’s hope Scott is correct, but at the same time, his analysis is based upon rationale opposed to emotion. I’m predicting a 27-14 score. Here’s my logic: Bama surrendered an average 22 points to West Virginia and Florida, two very average (if not subpar) teams. And Bama hosted the Florida game in Tuscaloosa and the West Virginia game in Atlanta. The Ole Miss offense is superior to either of these two and this contest will be a “road” game for the the Tide.
So predicting Ole Miss will score 27 points is not a stretch. On the defensive front, Ole Miss is allowing about 10 points a game, but not when the first team is on the field. Bama might get 14 points, however, anything above that number will be purely optimistic speculation on their part.
When the final horn sounds Saturday, there will be a clear front runner for the NCAA’s final-four matchup. However, should the winner be Ole Miss, don’t bank on it! The excuses will never stop coming, especially from the Finebaum’s of the world. As for us Rebels, there will be only one thing on our minds following the “W.” It was TIME!
Steve-Vassallo-Photo-Oct-20131-150x150Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. In addition, he is a certified economic and community developer and currently, a highly successful leader in the real estate business with Premier Properties of Oxford. Steve’s lifelong dream has been to live in Oxford full-time. “I am now living my dream daily as is my wife Rosie, who works with the Oxford Chamber of Commerce,” Steve said. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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