BARNEStorming: Ole Miss faces Arkansas and other thoughts around the college football world
OXFORD, Miss. – A lot is on the line this week when Ole Miss visits Arkansas. The Razorbacks are 5-5 and need one more win to become bowl eligible.
With an up-and-down Missouri team awaiting in the regular-season finale, the Hogs would love to take care of business Saturday, just to be on the safe side. Even though they are the home team, the Razorbacks are a 2.5-point underdog to the Rebels as of this writing.
For Ole Miss, bowl eligibility came with a 6-0 start, but losses to division rivals LSU and Alabama have dropped the Rebels down a bit in the pecking order of bowl teams.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura each currently have Ole Miss heading to the Citrus Bowl to play Penn State. Currently, by record, the Rebels rank fifth in the SEC behind Georgia, Tennessee, LSU and Alabama.
No Cincy this season
Depending on one’s opinion, last year’s Cincinnati team was either a blessing or a cautionary tale. The Bearcats made it to the College Football Playoffs as a Group of Five member and while some thought them deserving, others thought it was an aberration.
There is no Cincinnati-type team in the GOF this season, so the highest-ranked team among those five conferences will get a bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl.
At the moment, Coastal Carolina is the only one-loss team, and its game against Virginia Saturday has been cancelled due to the tragedy in Charlottesville this week. The bid should go to one of three teams from the American Athletic Conference, either UCF, Cincinnati or Tulane.
But how fun would a GOF playoff be this season? It is a simple eight-game premise with the champion of each conference getting an automatic bid and then three at-large. The teams would be seeded according to record, so here is what a first round could look like with the higher-seeded team playing the game at home.
- UCF vs. the MAC winner. Someone has to win the MAC and Ohio is in the driver’s seat with three losses already, so that conference champion that could have four losses would be seeded last.
- Coastal Carolina vs. Boise State. The Sun Belt champ against the Mountain West winner. Not a bad matchup.
- Texas-San Antonio vs. Tulane. UTSA just keeps quietly winning. Tulane might be ranked a tad low, but that would be to avoid another AAC game in the first round.
- Cincinnati vs. Troy. Cincy lost its first game to Arkansas and have hung around the conference race. Troy lost its first game to Ole Miss then a couple of weeks later, lost to Appalachian State on a Hail Mary. Imagine if the Trojans had defended that play.
Those seem to be a fun group of games. And just imagine the semifinals and title game.
It may have slipped by some fans, but the FBS has a new all-time leader in tackles. It is Carlton Martial of Troy who used a 22-tackle effort last week against Army to assume first place with 548.
𝙁𝙊𝙍𝙀𝙑𝙀𝙍 𝙀𝙏𝘾𝙃𝙀𝘿 𝙄𝙉 𝙃𝙄𝙎𝙏𝙊𝙍𝙔!
— Troy Trojans Football 7x⚔️ (@TroyTrojansFB) November 12, 2022
Not bad for a former walk-on who is listed at 5-foot-8, and that is stretching it a tad.
As a former walk-on, Martial was named as a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy which goes to the best player in the country that began his career as a walk-on.
Speaking of records…
Ole Miss true freshman running back Quinshon Judkins tallied his 14th and 15th rushing touchdowns of the season against Alabama Saturday, setting the school single-season record for rushing TDs.
Ole Miss RB Quinshon Judkins against Alabama:
-25 carries for 135-yards and 2 TD’s
Judkins now has 15 rushing TD’s, the single-season leader in Ole Miss history.
With 1,171 yards, he’s 141-yards away from the single-season rushing record.
A freshman pic.twitter.com/VPLefPB0E6
— Brad Logan (@BradLoganCOTE) November 13, 2022
The names of who he passed on the list are who’s who of Rebel Football: Kayo Dottley (1949), Archie Manning (1969), Deuce McAllister (2000) and Brandon Bolden (2010).
Judkins, who ended the day Saturday with 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, owns the freshman record for single-season rushing yards (1,171). He sits second on the Ole Miss single-season list for rushing yards, just 141 yards short of setting the record, regardless of classification.
Auburn fans should not buy the toilet paper so quickly to roll Toomer’s Corner this weekend. Sure, it is only Western Kentucky coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium this week, but the Hilltoppers could be coming at the right time.
Auburn fans are still elated after edging Texas A&M last week to give interim coach Cadillac Williams his first win as a coach and getting many to jump on his bandwagon to get the permanent gig. But between the emotional win over the Aggies and Alabama looming just around the corner in the Iron Bowl, this is a classic trap game.
Western Kentucky is 7-4 overall but look out for quarterback Austin Reed who will throw the ball all over the place Saturday. A graduate transfer, Reed has thrown for 3,458 yards this season and that is nothing new.
While playing for West Florida, he led the Argonauts to the 2019 Division II National Championship in only the team’s fifth season of existence. In the title game, a 48-40 win over Minnesota State-Mankato, all Reed did was pass for 523 yards and six touchdowns. Five of those scores came in the first half.
His most impressive drive came in the final minute of the first half. UWF took over at its own 1 with about a minute to go before the break and instead of killing the clock, the Argos threw deep to get West Florida to midfield and a few plays later threw a 48-yard touchdown. A 99-yard touchdown drive in a minute is not a bad way to end a half.
Look out, Auburn.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.