No. 12 Ole Miss tries to bounce back from losses
No. 12 Mississippi is dealing with multiple injuries to important players this week.
But the biggest issue by far is the team's bruised psyche.
The Rebels (7-2) are trying to bounce back from two emotional losses - including last weekend's 35-31 loss to Auburn - that essentially knocked the program out of national title contention.
Now coach Hugh Freeze is trying to make sure his team is prepared to face Presbyterian (5-4) on Saturday. The Blue Hose play at the Football Championship Subdivision level and have been blown out by two other FBS teams this season - Northern Illinois and NC State.
A win over Presbyterian won't mean anything in the SEC, but could help Ole Miss reclaim its mojo that helped it win seven straight to start the season. While the Rebels are now a longshot to win the SEC's Western Division, it's not impossible.
''It's not over,'' Freeze said. ''It can be the wild, wild West before it's over. You don't know who is going to win and who is going to lose on a given night. We just have to worry about us and continue to stay the course and not be discouraged.''
Ole Miss will be playing its first game without star receiver Laquon Treadwell. The sophomore broke his leg and dislocated his ankle against Auburn.
But Freeze's biggest challenge this week will be to get his team emotionally prepared for Saturday's game.
''For me to expect our kids to be all hyped up and excited after coming off of the last two weeks is probably not a reasonable expectation,'' Freeze said. ''I have to get them ready to execute. That falls on me.''
Things to watch when No. 12 Ole Miss hosts Presbyterian on Saturday:
BEAT UP REBELS: This is the sixth straight week of football for the Rebels - a stretch that's included five SEC games, including four against nationally-ranked opponents. Ole Miss is trying to find replacements for receiver Laquon Treadwell and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, who suffered season-ending injuries over the past two weeks.
EMOTIONAL LETDOWN: Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze acknowledges it will be a challenge to get the Rebels ready for Saturday's game after two difficult losses to Auburn and LSU. The Rebels lost those two games by a combined seven points.
NEW RECEIVERS: Treadwell's season-ending injury means the Rebels will be trying to find a new No. 1 receiver. Vince Sanders, Cody Core and Quincy Adeboyejo are all candidates to see an increased role with Treadwell on the sidelines.
STILL HOPE: Ole Miss has lost its past two games, which put a serious dent in its aspirations at winning the SEC Western Division and making the four-team College Football Playoff. But it's not necessarily impossible. The Rebels hope a victory over Presbyterian can help the team gain some confidence before matchups against Arkansas and Mississippi State at the end of November.
A BETTER GAME: Presbyterian will be playing its third game against FBS-level competition this season. The Blue Hose haven't been competitive in their first two tries, losing 55-3 to Northern Illinois and 42-0 to NC State. Presbyterian has lost all eight of its games against FBS-level competition.
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