There was great angst for Ole Miss fans coming out of the Memphis game this year.
For some it had to do with losing to Memphis. It should have been placed on how the Rebels were underachieving at the time.
Things turned after the Memphis game. It’s amazing what adding a potential top five draft pick at left tackle can do.
Anyway, recent history suggests that losing to Memphis does not in fact end the college football season.
Memphis has its own likely first-round draft pick this season in quarterback Paxton Lynch. It’s no shame losing to those guys.
The series took a four-year break after 2009. In the last 13 meetings the Rebels have won 10 times.
The losses came in 2003, 2004 and 2015. In those three seasons Ole Miss has a combined SEC record of 16-8.
In 2003 and now 2015 Ole Miss went on to post two of its best SEC seasons of the modern era.
The Rebels went 6-2 in league play this season, its best effort since going 7-1 and losing the West title on a tie-breaker to LSU in 2003. So in two seasons in which the Rebels lost at Memphis they finished 13-3 against SEC teams.
The outlier is 2004. Ole Miss was transitioning from Eli Manning to a quarterback picture that remained uncertain for most of the season. The Rebels were not far from going winless against their non-conference schedule that year. They lost 20-13 to Memphis in the season opener in Oxford. Three weeks later they lost 37-32 at Wyoming. Eventually they would win a non-conference game 28-21 against Arkansas State.
The Rebels did manage to go 3-5 in the SEC that season, finishing with a win in the Egg Bowl as quarterback Robert Lane ran the option and rushed for 97 yards on 16 carries.
The SEC has played an eight-game schedule since moving to divisional play in 1992, so the Rebels’ seven SEC wins in 2003 is an all-time high. Before that teams were playing six- or seven-game conference seasons.
Aside from 2003, Ole Miss has not won six SEC games in a season since 1962.