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November 5, 2012

Rebels have sights set on sixth win

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze looks back at Georgia and ahead to Saturday's showdown with Vanderbilt.

OXFORD, Miss. -- Phil Steele released his updated bowl projections Monday afternoon.

The college football guru projected Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Houston on Jan. 5 in Birmingham, Ala.

The Rebels (5-4 overall, 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference) have their sights set higher, but first, they must achieve bowl-eligibility. To do that, they must win one more game. Up next: Saturday's 6 p.m. home date against Vanderbilt (5-4, 3-3). Steele projects that the Commodores will face Central Florida on Dec. 31 in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

"It's going to be about who wants it more," Ole Miss offensive tackle Emmanuel McCray said. "It's not about who has the talent. We're just going to go out there and play hard. Whoever wants it more will win the game."

Neither team was talking about specific bowls right now. In Oxford, the Rebels were focusing on the task at hand and reveling in the fact that, for the first time since 2009, November football is relevant again.

"It's exciting," McCray said. "Last year, it was a given or understood where the season was headed to. It makes the sense feel longer in a good essence. You're not dragging it out. Every week, you've got something to play for. That makes going to practice easier. It makes just waking up to come here easier."

"It feels good that we're at this point in the season and we're actually playing for something," Ole Miss senior defensive end Jason Jones said. "The last two seasons, you want to get those out of the way. You want to get those out of your mind and just out of the whole program and everything. …It's something that's been real meaningful to us all, not just me. "

Jones was part of the Rebels' roster in 2008 and 2009, when Ole Miss earned bids to the Cotton Bowl. In 2010, the Rebels were 4-8. Last season, the program bottomed out, going 2-10.

"As a senior, you want to go out strong and be the foundation of a program that's being built," Jones said. "In less than a year, it's amazing how Coach (Hugh) Freeze has brought this program from like a 2 to like an 8. I can't wait to see how it's going to look a couple of years from now."

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