Is Ole Miss a Legitimate Dark-horse SEC Contender?

by Jesse Perkins

In the midst of the annual preseason hype of the elite football teams in the SEC, there is one up and coming program you need not sleep on.

While Alabama and LSU continue reloading year after year, there is no doubt that Ole Miss is well on its way to solidifying their position in the SEC as it seems very clear that Hugh Freeze is nearing the end of the rebuilding stage.

Ole Miss has more than enough firepower to be a dark horse SEC Champion this season. The Rebels proved they could hold their own in 2012 in the nation's top football conference.

Although his squad was extremely thin at times, the heart and determination of his team allowed Freeze to grab 7 victories and a BBVA Compass Bowl win in Birmingham. Ole Miss will return 15 total starters, including key performers in Bo Wallace, Donte Moncrief and Jeff Scott on the offensive side, while Denzel Nkemdiche and CJ Johnson return to lead the Rebel Defense.

Let's not forget the consensus top 10 recruiting class Hugh Freeze and his staff were able to grab. That certainly can only help the Rebel cause and obtains much needed depth if they want to make a serious run in the almighty SEC West. Freeze still needs another class or two to match the overall strength and physicality in the trenches with the best. However, the combination of his offensive mind and experienced playmakers will allow Ole Miss to score with anyone.

No one truly knows how the SEC West will be won. We know this for sure, it will most certainly be anyone's for the taking. The overall perception of the conference is that it may self destruct with 3-4 national powers in each division. If Alabama were to falter just one time, look out, Hugh Freeze and his Rebels could very well be right behind them to seize the opportunity.

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By Mo Johnson, Copyright © 2006-2016 SECSportsFan.com

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