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Ole Miss hasn't won more than six games in any season since 1971 and has been without a standout quarterback since Archie Manning in 1970. The Rebels are still without a Manning throw-alike, but Steve Sloan, the man who got bowl bids after taking over doormats at Vanderbilt and Texas Tech, has arrived as coach. Sloan inherits a team that finished eighth in the SEC. But the defense was third in the conference and a junior punter, Jim Miller, was No. 1 in the nation with a 45.9-yard average. With Sloan and luck Ole Miss just might play in a bowl.
Kentucky was a rousing 10-1 in '77, but All-SEC Quarterback Derrick Ramsey and All-America Defensive Tackle Art Still are gone. Ramsey's successor, Mike Deaton, throws more, runs less, and Still's replacement, Bud Diehl, is virtually untested. But elsewhere there are a good many veterans of the squad that held rivals to an average of 10.1 points a game, which is fortunate; come October, Kentucky plays Penn State, Ole Miss and LSU in successive weeks.
However, the Wildcats do not play Auburn, which finished in a tie for third in the conference in 1977 and has 16 starters back. Still, the War Eagles have some mending to do in a defense that gave up an average of 21.2 points a game. It doesn't hurt that Auburn has a quality kicker in Jorge Portela.
Having tumbled from first to sixth in just one year, Georgia Coach Vince Dooley is going back to the I formation which the Bulldogs had forsaken for a veer. Tennessee, 4-7 in 1977, may even up its record if Quarterback Jimmy Streater gets a little help. He passed for 1,139 yards and 12 TDs in '77.
Florida and Mississippi State start all over again in 1978, the Gators because they lost so much talent, the Bulldogs because they have had to forfeit 19 games over the past three seasons for using an ineligible player. After two straight 2-9 seasons, Vanderbilt faces another such year.
In essence, Yale won last year's championship on the first weekend of the season when, in the final minute of play, the Elis mounted a dramatic goal line stand to beat Brown 10-9. This time around, the Bruins should have too much firepower. Quarterback Mark Whipple can throw either short or long and he will again have his favorite receiver, Mark Farnham, who burned Yale with a 52-yard touchdown catch. The Bulldogs no longer have 1,000-yard rusher John Pagliaro to depend on, and for the third straight year they will be breaking in a new quarterback. This one's name, at least, has the authentic sound of greatness: Pat O'Brien.
Penn once again will have the winning end of the wishbone, which it used to beat Princeton 21-10 last year without benefit of a single forward pass. The offense was so effective in its first Penn season that Fullback Denis Grosvenor gained 743 yards—four more than the entire Quaker team managed in '76.
After several frustrating years at Princeton, Bob Casciola was fired just when the Tigers seemed to be regaining their stripes. Fourteen returning starters should make Casciola's replacement, Frank Navarro, look like an improvement. Harvard, which suffered its first losing season (4-5) in seven years under Joe Restic, has seven home games and high hopes for sophomore Running Back Paul Connors.