CATEGORY: FOC College Football
HED: It's back to business
By Todd Vinyard
OXFORD The perfect prescription for any LSU upset win hangover could be for the Ole Miss Rebels to take one game against Alabama Saturday, and call Sunday morning.
Minutes after Ole Miss shocked the football world at Death Valley with a 36-21 upset of the then-No. 8 Tigers, Rebel players began thinking ahead. That means Saturday in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium against Alabama at 11:30 a.m. in a game to be broadcast by Jefferson-Pilot (WCBI-Columbus).
"The win was big, but I think it will be forgotten if we come up and lose to Alabama," said Rebel tight end Rufus French, who led the team with six receptions for 42 yards against LSU.
French and other Rebels learned from LSU, which beat the No. 1 team in the nation, Florida, and then lost to Ole Miss.
"We were talking about it on the bus back, that if we didn't work hard and prepare for Alabama people would say the same thing about us that they said about LSU after they beat Florida and then lost to us," French said. "That it was a fluke."
Fans haven't forgotten the win that vaulted Ole Miss (4-2 overall, and 2-2 in the SEC) to a No. 25 Associated Press ranking. Cars around the Ole Miss campus had the LSU score written on the back windows. The coaching staff while pleased to receive so many congratulatory calls had to disconnect the phones and fax machines to get work done amidst the volume.
Another pat on the back went to Rebel quarterback Stewart Patridge who was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Patridge threw for career bests in completions (27), attempts (43) and yards (346). He is the first Rebel player since Randy Baldwin in 1990 to receive the conference's weekly honor more than once in a season.
Walking around school has been exciting for the Rebels.
"It has gotten us more recognition even on campus," Rebel running back John Avery said. "We used to walk around campus and people would say, 'there goes a football player' and now they know you by name and say, 'John, great game.'"
However, Avery said the Rebels Sunday practice was a rough one as Ole Miss got back to business.
We have got a big game in front of us,'' head coach Tommy Tuberville said. We are all excited, but we have to get past that. We have a lot of football still to be played.''
Tuberville said Alabama's record of 3-3 overall, and 1-3 in the SEC is deceiving. The Tide could be 5-1 if a few breaks had gone its way, he said.
The Rebels are proud to be ranked in the Top 25 despite having below 70 scholarships while battling through scholarship reductions from two years of probation. Ole Miss knows the job isn't done.
"We are excited about winning on the road and being ranked in the Top 25," Tuberville said. "But like I told our players, it doesn't mean anything until the end of the year."