SEC SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN: OLE MISS
New Bulldogs squad will be loaded.
Welcome back to our SEC schedule breakdown, this week I reveal my top four in the SEC. So far I have picked Auburn to finish 14th, Kentucky 13th, South Carolina 12th, Missouri 11th, Mississippi State 10th, Vanderbilt 9th, and Texas A&M 8th, Florida 7th, Arkansas 6th, and Georgia to finish fifth. Now, it’s time to move into the top four and that means starting with what could be a very interesting team to watch in 2016.
The Pick: Ole Miss
League Finish: 4th
Division Finish: 3rd
SEC Record: 6-2
Overall Record: 9-3
Bowl Game: Outback Bowl
I’ve said this with several teams lately. This will be a very good year for Ole Miss, but there is a chance it could be a surprisingly bad season for the Rebels. Ole Miss lost more key pieces than any other team in the SEC from last year’s team.
There is still plenty of talent however, the key aspect is that while they replaced the players they lost with just as talented players. Those new players don’t have a lot of experience.
Senior quarterback Chad Kelly will have a big impact on how well the Rebels do this season. To put it as simply as I can, it won’t be a lack of talent that causes Ole Miss to have a bad season. If anything does, it could be all the outside noise with this NCAA investigation.
If the Rebels can handle all the noise for the outside world and media. If they cannot focus all of their attention on the NCAA investigation and its possible results, than it could be another special year for Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze.
Week one Ole Miss vs. Florida State (Camping World Kickoff, Orlando, FL). Mon, Sept. 5th
Ole Miss will get a test right out of the gates as they play the Florida State Seminoles in the Camping World Kickoff. The game takes place in Orlando so while it is technically a neutral site game, it will probably feel more like a home game for FSU. The Noles have announced they will go with redshirt freshman Deondre Francois as their week one starter. While FSU should win this game on paper, having a young QB under center could open the door for Kelly and the Rebels to steal one. However, with that said I still have to go with FSU to pick up the win.
Week two Ole Miss vs. Wofford. Sat, Sept. 10th
The Rebels get Wofford on a short week, but that won’t be a problem for Ole Miss. Wofford just doesn’t have the talent to keep up with Ole Miss for 60 minutes. Ole Miss wins big and moves to 1-1.
Week Three Ole Miss vs. Alabama. Sat, Sept. 17th
The Rebels get their second top 10 team in three weeks and this time it’s the defending National Champions in the Alabama Crimson Tide. Ole Miss has conquered the Tide the last two seasons and is looking to beat the Tide for the three-peat. The Tide will do anything to avoid an early season SEC loss and this is where Ole Miss’s missing pieces will really hurt them. The Tide wins and Ole Miss drops to 1-2 on the season.
Week four Ole Miss vs. Georgia. Sat, Sept. 24th
If this game where in Athens I would pick the Bulldogs no questions asked, but it’s not. If the Dogs running backs are healthy they could very easily copy the Tides strategy and over power a young Ole Miss defense. However, Ole Miss does have one of the greatest home-field advantages in all of college football. Ole Miss at home finds a way to win a close ball game, more than likely because of Chad Kelly and moves to 2-2 and 1-1 in the SEC.
Week five Ole Miss vs. Memphis. Sat, Oct. 1st
Last year I took Memphis to get the upset and they made me look like a genius. I’m hoping my pick in this year’s match-up doesn’t let me down. Ole Miss will get the win, but it could still be a close game. Really this game could be a swing game in all honesty. Yes, Memphis lost a lot from last year’s team including its head coach. However, they did find a very talented and dangerous replacement for Paxton Lynch at QB. Former Tennessee Vols quarterback Riley Ferguson will be the Tigers starting QB. I watched first-hand the Ferguson debacle at Tennessee and have kept up with him ever since. He has come a long way and is in a better place. For him he gets a second chance, for Memphis they get an SEC caliber quarterback. Ole Miss gets the win, but Ferguson could keep the Tigers close late in the game.
Week seven Ole Miss @ Arkansas. Sat, Oct. 15th
The Rebels finally have to go on the road and it won’t be an easy place play has they head to Fayetteville. Ole Miss will be coming off of its bye week and the Hogs will be coming off of a hard game versus Alabama. This game will go a long way in deciding these two teams fates, both teams will have one loss in SEC play and in the West two loss pretty much means you won’t win the division. It could also have bowl game implications and will play a big role in the SEC West standings. This matchup will come down to which QB can make to most big plays and while I think Austin Allen will be a very good QB. He simply is not Chad Kelly good and that’s why I have to pick Ole Miss, but once again this is a swing game and one Ole Miss must win. Rebels move to 4-2 and 2-1 in the SEC.
Week eight Ole Miss @ LSU. Sat, Oct. 22nd
The Tigers will be one of the nation’s best teams in 2016 and also have one of the most intimidating environments in all of college football. LSU and Leonard Fournette should run all over the Rebels defense. It should be an improved offense for LSU and be more than just Fournette running the ball. Brandon Harris looks to have made some improvements to his passing game and LSU will use Derrius Guice more in the run game. Chad Kelly can keep Ole Miss in it, but with an improved Tigers offense. LSU should win by around 21 points and end the Rebels SEC title hopes.
Week nine Ole Miss vs. Auburn. Sat, Oct. 29th
Ole Miss will be happy to return home to face Auburn. While the LSU Tigers got the best of Ole Miss last week the Auburn Tigers won’t be as lucky. Ole Miss will win this game thanks to Kelly and him being a stable hand under center. Auburn’s offense will still be a mess, just like last year and the Rebels win this one big.
Week ten Ole Miss vs. Georgia Southern. Sat, Nov. 5th
Georgia Southern is good, but they won’t have enough depth of defense to slow down Kelly and the Ole Miss passing game. The Eagles could keep this game close after halftime, but Ole Miss will pull away late. Rebels win and move to 6-3 and saucer bowl eligibility.
Week eleven Ole Miss @ Texas A&M. Sat, Nov. 12th
Ole Miss should be running on all cylinders by this point in the season and the Aggies should be having a decent season in their own right. This one could feature a lot of touchdowns as both quarterbacks can sling the ball around. However, Kelly should be able to out duel Trevor Knight and the Aggies and get the Rebels win number seven.
Week twelve Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt. Sat, Nov. 19th
Ole Miss makes the trip to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt and will have for face one of the nation’s best defenses. Vanderbilt will have had a lot of success so far this season, but the regular season will end with some frustrations. Including a loss to Ole Miss. Ole Miss’s offense will be able to make enough plays verse a somewhat tiered Vandy defense to win the game.
Week thirteen Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State (Egg Bowl). Sat, Nov. 26th
For Ole Miss they will be going bowling, for Miss St. this is there bowl game and nothing helps to make a bad season seem better than sticking it to your rival. State simply won’t have enough to keep up with the Rebels this season. It might be close in the first half, but Ole Miss will have worn down the State defense and should make some big play late.
When the regular season is said and down Ole Miss should be setting at 9-3 with a third place finish in the SEC West. The real question is where is the NCAA at in its investigation, that’s what Rebel’s fans need to worry with most.