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Sports | Published Sept. 29, 2008 | 0 comments

Column: Ole Miss shows progress against Florida

Published as a part of Maneater v. 75, Issue 10

Hotty toddy, gosh almighty, who the hell are we?

A fledgling football program that went winless in the SEC in 2007? A team that hasn't played in a bowl game since Jan. 1, 2004, and had just 10 wins in the last three seasons?

Flim flam, bim bam, Ole Miss, by damn.

In the last three years under coach Ed Orgeron's direction, the Ole Miss Rebels were not good. Orgeron, championed as a great recruiter, proved to be a sub-par head coach after finding success as a defensive coordinator for Pete Carroll at USC.

Orgeron never had a signature win outside of the 2006 Egg Bowl, a rivalry game against Mississippi State, when the Rebs beat the Bulldogs 20-17. Even then, though, that win came a year before Mississippi State made a bowl game. Orgeron's team only beat Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Memphis, Louisiana Tech and three Football Championship Series teams.

It took Houston Nutt, in his first year at Ole Miss after leaving Arkansas, no more than a month to get a signature win for the school when the Rebels knocked off No. 4 Florida 31-30 on Saturday in Gainesville. This isn't something new for Nutt, whose Razorbacks defeated LSU 50-48 in double overtime at the end of last season. But it is for Ole Miss. The Rebels beat the Gators in both 2002 and 2003, but that was with Eli Manning at quarterback.

What I'm getting at is that Ole Miss never had a quality win under Orgeron. And it has taken just five games for Nutt to get one such victory. The Rebels played an extremely physical game against a Florida team that hadn't had a turnover the entire season. Ole Miss forced five fumbles, recovering three of them. Quarterback Tim Tebow was sacked three times and was under pressure on many more plays. And, though Tebow and Percy Harvin both had excellent games, it wasn't enough.

Nutt's "Wild Rebel" formation - formerly known as the "Wild Hog" at Arkansas - proved to be very effective, even though it lacked Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

Dexter McCluster, a speedy wide receiver whose talent was not properly used by Orgeron, looked at home in the new formation. McCluster had 11 carries for 60 yards and one touchdown, which was the end result of an impressive 40-yard scramble that put Ole Miss up 24-17 late in the third quarter.

Jevan Snead, who took back his commitment to Florida when he figured out that Tim Tebow was being recruited as the quarterback and not a linebacker as he was initially told, didn't have an impressive game.

But it was good enough to get Ole Miss the win. His 86-yard touchdown pass on third down to Shay Hodge gave the Rebels a 31-24 lead with 5:26 remaining in the game.

A blocked extra point after Harvin scampered in from 15 yards allowed Ole Miss to keep a one-point lead. But after a three-and-out, Florida had the ball. The Gators moved to the Ole Miss 41, but Tebow was stopped on a fourth-and-one quarterback run that sealed the victory for Ole Miss.

Hotty toddy, gosh almighty, who the hell are we?

A team that just beat the No. 4 team in the nation.

Flim flam, bim bam, Ole Miss, by damn.

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