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Will James Franklin lead Missouri to a bowl game this season?
The SEC has 10 guaranteed slots for both teams but there's a chance the conference has at least 11 or 12 squads eligible for the postseason. Ole Miss and Missouri are two teams on the edge of bowl eligibility, as the Rebels sit at 4-3 and the Tigers are 3-4.
Ole Miss or Missouri: Will Either Team Make a Bowl In 2012?
Barrett Sallee, Lead SEC Blogger for Bleacher Report (@BarrettSallee):
Ole Miss is the better team, but the stretch run is too tough for the Rebels to make a bowl game. They are getting Arkansas at the wrong time this week, and if they want to go bowling, they'll need to get that win and vs. Vanderbilt to secure a six-win season and a bowl trip. I don't think they can get a win over the resurgent Hogs this weekend.
Missouri, on the other hand, has a better shot at the postseason. The need three wins down the stretch, but games vs. Kentucky, Tennessee and Syracuse could get them there. The season will hinge on the Tennessee game. Missouri doesn't play a lot of defense and the Vols can sling it all over the field. Gary Pinkel's crew will have to play old school, Big 12-style football to have a shot. I don't think they get it done though, and fall just short of making a bowl game in their first season in the SEC.
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
The chances look much better for Ole Miss than Missouri. With quarterback James Franklin out against Kentucky -- a team that has been competitive with South Carolina and Georgia -- I’m not sure if Missouri is going to win another game in the SEC. Ole Miss’ schedule shapes up much nicer for a postseason trip, despite the next two road games. Arkansas is getting better, but the Hogs are still vulnerable. And who knows what we’re going to see out of Georgia on a week-to-week basis? When Ole Miss returns home, it should have a good chance against Vanderbilt in Oxford. And while I would not pick Ole Miss to win in Baton Rouge, it’s just been that kind of year at LSU. Then there’s a home finale in the Egg Bowl. I don’t know how Ole Miss is going to do it, but the Rebels are going to win two of those games and reach a bowl. The Rebels have shown they can beat up on bad SEC teams (Auburn) and play with resilience against good ones (Alabama, Texas A&M). Meanwhile, none of the teams left on Ole Miss’ schedule can make me say without a doubt that they’ll be able to defeat the Rebels easily.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
I will go with neither. Ole Miss would likely have to beat both Vanderbilt and Mississippi State at home in order to get to six wins. Otherwise, three road games to Arkansas, Georgia and LSU are almost certain losses. One upset at home is possible, but two feels highly unlikely. Mizzou has a clear path to five wins with Syracuse and Kentucky at home but would also have to win one of three brutal road games at Florida, Texas A&M or Tennessee. If I had to place a bet on one or the other, I would take the Rebels. Is it possible for both to get to bowl eligibility? Yes. Will it happen? I say no.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
Both teams have a good chance to get bowl eligible, but I’m going to say neither will get to six wins. Ole Miss is a much-improved team under new coach Hugh Freeze and has winnable games against Arkansas and Vanderbilt remaining, along with the Egg Bowl showdown against Mississippi State in the finale. Making the Rebels’ quest to get to six wins even more difficult is the Razorbacks have won two in a row, while the Commodores have won two out of their last three games. Although Ole Miss is an improved team, I just don’t think it can muster six wins out of the remaining schedule.
Missouri’s remaining schedule isn’t as difficult as Ole Miss’, especially with home games left against Kentucky and Syracuse. If the Tigers win those two games, they would need to pickup a win at Florida, Tennessee or Texas A&M. Not exactly easy. Missouri’s best bet might be picking up a victory against former Big 12 foe Texas A&M or against a Tennessee team that could be distracted by its coaching situation. The Tigers have a better chance than the Rebels to get to six wins, but I think they fall just short and finish 5-7.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
My guess is no. Ole Miss is vastly improved under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, but the Rebels have a difficult closing schedule. They are 4–3 overall, with wins over Central Arkansas, UTEP, Tulane and Auburn. It’s tough to find two wins on their remaining schedule — at Arkansas, Georgia and LSU and home vs. Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. They will be an underdog in at least four of the five games, and potentially all five if Vanderbilt continues to play well. Missouri has been a bit of a disappointment in its first year in the league. Injuries have hurt — both at quarterback and on the offensive line — but nobody envisioned an 0–4 start in league play. The Tigers should take care of Kentucky on Saturday (even without James Franklin at quarterback) to improve to 4–4 overall, but three of their final four games are on the road — at Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M. My guess is that Mizzou ends the year 5–7 overall and 1–7 in the SEC.
It's kind of a shame these two don't play each other to end the regular season in what could have been a bowl-elimination game. That said, if I had to choose, I would give Ole Miss a better shot at sneaking into the postseason rather than Missouri. The Tigers have had a rough introduction to the SEC and have suffered too many key injuries, most notably to quarterback James Franklin, to finish with six wins. I think five is the best they can hope for this season. On the other hand, Ole Miss only needs two more victories to get to six and I think can get there, provided they beat Arkansas in Fayetteville this Saturday. If the Rebels can beat the Hogs, who are riding a modest two-game winning streak of their own, then their bowl fate likely comes down to the Nov. 10 home game against Vanderbilt. Wins over the Hogs and Commodores would make the Rebels bowl eligible. However, should they stumble in either of these games, I don't see Hugh Freeze going to the postseason in his first season in Oxford because the Rebels' other three remaining games are against teams ranked in the top 11 of the BCS standings — at Georgia (No. 10), at LSU (No. 6) and against Mississippi State (No. 11). The opportunity is there for the Rebels to get back to a bowl for the first time in three seasons, it's just up to them to capitalize on it.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I think the Rebels (4-3) find a way to get to 6-6, while the Tigers (3-4) first SEC campaign looks destined for a 5-7 finish. Coach Hugh Freeze has done an amazing job in Oxford this season, and he will need a strong finish to chalk up two bowl-clinching wins in five games where Ole Miss will be an underdog. The Rebs’ road is difficult, but I think Freeze and staff will “coach’em up” this weekend at Arkansas and grab a win over either Vanderbilt or Mississippi State. Meanwhile, the Tigers have struggled on offense and with injuries this year. The Kentucky and Syracuse games are the top candidates for wins, but I’m not sure Mizzou can score enough points to keep up in road contests versus Tennessee and Texas A&M. The odds probably favor both teams finishing 5-7, but I’ll take Ole Miss to surprise down the stretch and get back to the postseason.
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