Southern Miss

Ole Miss looks to avoid Bama hangover vs. Georgia

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze walks off the field following a loss to No. 1 Alabama Saturday in Oxford, Miss.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze walks off the field following a loss to No. 1 Alabama Saturday in Oxford, Miss. Associated Press

Two losses to top-five teams are losses nonetheless.

Ole Miss began the season just outside the top 10 in The AP Top 25. Rebels coach Hugh Freeze doesn’t say this is the time to reassess goals, but the idea of an SEC championship and College Football Playoff berth is more outside the realm of control than it once was.

No. 23 Ole Miss takes on No. 12 Georgia Saturday morning at 11 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

“All off-season we were talking about the SEC championship and winning the national championship,” senior tight end Evan Engram said. “That’s a far cry from where we’re sitting right now.”

Engram did not rule out those possibilities, noting the shifting nature of college football rankings and success stories.

The Rebels did not expect to be 1-2 after three games, but having faced then-No. 4 Florida State in Orlando and No. 1 Alabama some predicted that for them.

Lots of coaches talk about goals, but Freeze gave a less tangible response.

“We aren’t big on setting goals. We’re big on, ‘What can I do today that proves my commitment to help us get to wherever we’re going, whatever that is,’” he said.

Georgia, under first-year coach Kirby Smart, turned heads with its season-opening win over North Carolina. Since then the Bulldogs have struggled for stretches in wins over Nicholls State or at Missouri.

The Rebels, in Week 4, are looking for their first win over an FBS team. They expect a challenge and hope to improve discipline in their run defense this week.

For a program with a cumulative record of 27-12 over the last three years, 1-2 is a different feeling.

“We’ve been hit with a lot of adversity, been slapped in the face with it, but we’re still ready to go,” Engram said. “This record ain’t going to be like this for long.”

Injury update

Sophomore defensive end Victor Evans (concussion) could be back this week. Senior Fadol Brown, a starter at one end, is doubtful. Freeze said Brown (foot) could be out long-term but did not give a timeline. Backup running back Eugene Brazley (neck) is also expected to be available.

Suspensions

Backup wide receiver Derrick Jones and backup offensive lineman Jeremy Liggins remain suspended. It’s possible they could be available this week. Both players have unfinished internal discipline. Freeze said, “The ball is in their court. I’m not bending.”

Been a long time

Ole Miss hasn’t beaten Georgia since 1996, a 31-27 win by Tommy Tuberville’s Rebels in Athens. The two don’t play every year. That’s a span of 20 years but includes 10 games.

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