Editor’s note: The SECreleased its conference slate for 2014 last week. The Daily Journal’s beat writers for Mississippi State and Ole Miss, Parrish Alford and Brad Locke, deliver their instant analysis of the 2014 schedules.
Rebels have intriguing road slate
By Parrish Alford
Ole Miss returns to Vanderbilt next season, which is less imposing than playing a second straight year at say, Alabama, as it does this year.
Not that Vanderbilt is a walk-over. The Rebels’ last trip to Nashville resulted in a 30-7 loss for Houston Nutt’s last Ole Miss team.
Still, at a road venue with half the seats of most SEC stadiums, you get half the intimidation factor.
Speaking of intimidation factor, they say it’s a sight to behold when the Aggies lock arms and sing the war hymn. Ole Miss will experience Kyle Field for the first time since 1975 with an Oct. 11 trip to College Station.
Missouri, after visiting Vaught-Hemingway Stadium this November, drops off the schedule without a return trip by Ole Miss.
Tennessee comes on the schedule. The last time Ole Miss and Tennessee played was a home-and-home in 2009-10. The home team won each, with an average margin of victory was 31.5 points.
Unlike this season’s unusual schedule, in 2014 the Rebels play no two home games or road games back-to-back.
The Rebels return to Little Rock to face Arkansas on Nov. 22. Hugh Freeze has never lost a game inside the state of Arkansas as a head coach.
Bulldogs tested right out of the gate
By Brad Locke
Mississippi State’s football schedule got shuffled for 2014 and won’t be quite as backloaded as in recent years.
Last season, MSU closed out the regular season with five consecutive games against SEC Western Division foes, losing four of them. This year, State’s SEC schedule features Eastern Division power South Carolina followed by four straight West teams to finish it out.
The tougher tests are more spread out next year. The final five games are against Arkansas, UT-Martin, Alabama, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. On paper, at least, that looks to be slightly easier than the current setup, although Vandy and Ole Miss have made recent progress.
The Commodores, who visit Starkville on Nov. 22, are MSU’s rotating cross-divisional opponent, and this will be the teams’ first meeting since 2008.
Arkansas has been scheduled as MSU’s penultimate regular season game since 1996, but it will be the eighth game in 2014, set for Nov. 1 in Starkville.
For the first time since 2003, MSU will open the season with three non-conference games, starting with a home opener versus Southern Miss. The Bulldogs begin league play against LSU in Baton Rouge, the first time since 2007 they haven’t faced Auburn in its SEC opener.
MSU and Auburn meet Oct. 11; it’s one of seven games to be played at the renovated and expanded Davis Wade Stadium.