Each August John Pitts asks us to predict the future, so we break down the schedules game by game. Here’s what I wrote about Ole Miss back then.
Some of it’s not even close, but some is not too far off.
I did have the Rebels going 9-3. I had them losing to Arkansas and beating LSU. I had them losing at Alabama and Auburn, not Memphis and Florida, though I believed Florida had trap game potential.
I whiffed on the impact of Jeremy Johnson at Auburn but got the Egg Bowl right, and in Mississippi that’s more important.
This was August:
Sept. 5, Tennessee-Martin: In a long season with a single open date that won’t come until November, the Rebels could use this game deeper down the schedule. No Jacksonville State worries from the Skyhawks. With a quarterback race possibly still unsettled Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze stays vanilla, and the Rebels win big. Likely winner: Ole Miss.
Sept. 12, Fresno State: The Bulldogs will provide a stiffer challenge. They were fairly prolific on offense last year but will be breaking in a new quarterback meaning Ole Miss will have a huge advantage with an experienced defense. It’s possible Freeze still has not named a starting QB here, but that will change soon. Likely winner: Ole Miss.
Sept. 19, at Alabama: This will be a one-possession game and an early test for a new Ole Miss quarterback. The Rebels will be better in the run game and will continue to improve but won’t be good enough at this time to carry the offense. Likely winner: Alabama.
Sept. 26, Vanderbilt: Commodores coach Derek Mason is running his own defense this year and promises more fire and intensity after a dismal debut. Maybe there’s marginal improvement for Vanderbilt in Year II, but there was too much distance between these programs last year to think the Commodores steal a win in Oxford. Likely winner: Ole Miss
Oct. 3, at Florida: Some have called this a trap game for the Rebels. The Gators do have some talent but not the level they had when they were competing for SEC titles on an annual basis. There’s a lot of work to be done with Jim McElwaine’s rebuilding plan, and Ole Miss typically plays well in Gainesville. Likely winner: Ole Miss.
Oct. 10, New Mexico State: The Aggies have won two games in each of the last two seasons. This should turn quickly into a game where the Rebels rest starters and key players. Likely winner: Ole Miss.
Oct. 17, at Memphis: The game came at a difficult time last year, one week before Alabama visited Oxford. This time the Rebels are more focused against an opponent they’ll respect more than they did a year ago, and a methodical run game will help them get the win. Likely winner: Ole Miss.
Oct. 24: Texas A&M: The Aggies will be improved defensively under John Chavis, but the home team will win for the first time in this series since Texas A&M joined the SEC. Likely winner: Ole Miss.
Oct. 31: at Auburn: While the Rebels do play well in Gainesville they rarely play well at Auburn. Tigers quarterback Jeremy Johnson has two-thirds of a season under his belt as the starter by now, and Ole Miss falls on the road. Likely winner: Auburn.
Nov. 7, Arkansas: The Hogs control the ball and the clock and pull off a win on the road. Likely winner; Arkansas.
Nov. 21, LSU: With two weeks to prepare the Rebels regroup from the Arkansas game and turn the tables from last year’s disappointing first loss of the season. Likely winner: Ole Miss.
Nov. 28, at MSU: Intent on showing they can play well in Starkville the Rebels pull off a rare road win against the in-state rivals. Likely winner: Ole Miss.