Rebels move to No. 13 in AP poll

Published 12:01 pm Monday, October 12, 2015

Ole Miss handled its business Saturday morning and got some help later in the day to make a slight jump in the latest Associated Press Top 25 released Sunday.

The Rebels moved up one spot to No. 13 after its 52-3 win over New Mexico State. Ole Miss received 803 points from the panel of voters, 37 more than No. 14 Notre Dame.

A pair of teams in front of the Rebels suffered their first losses Saturday. Then-No. 13 Northwestern was blanked by Michigan, which vaulted six spots to No. 12, while Texas stunned then-No. 10 Oklahoma with a 24-17 win for just its second victory of the season.

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No. 6 LSU is the highest-ranked team in the Southeastern Conference with Florida, Texas A&M and Alabama rounding out the top 10, respectively. Ohio State stayed at No. 1 while Baylor jumped TCU for the No. 2 spot following its 66-7 pasting of Kansas. TCU rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit at Kansas State to stay unbeaten with a 52-45 win.

Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) coasted to its fifth win in six games Saturday despite some sloppy play from the special teams and occasional coverage busts that continue to be a problem for a defense that’s reshuffled with the temporary losses of middle linebacker C.J. Johnson and safety Tony Conner. Terry Caldwell got his first career start in Johnson’s place Saturday while C.J. Hampton made his first start at free safety.

The Rebels muffed two punts while Carlos Davis fumbled one at the end of a return in the second half. The miscues didn’t come close to costing Ole Miss against New Mexico State, but they could if they persist against the stiffer competition the Rebels will see in the season’s second half starting with Memphis this week.

“We did a lot of good things today and we’re going to enjoy this victory,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said after Saturday’s game. “But there’s still some critical areas or critical moments in the game where we don’t execute properly.”