This is simply an overview of each of the Mississippi Rebels' games this season; predictions come Thursday.
9.6 :: at Memphis (Sunday)
Ole Miss has won 13 of the last 17 in the series, which in recent years has served as both schools' traditional opener. The Tigers are going for a third postseason trip in as many years and return 1,223-yard rusher Curtis Steele but only two of their top five receivers and just one starter each on the defensive and offensive lines.
9.19 :: vs. Southeastern Louisiana
The Lions weren't awful last year, going 5-7 -- in the Southland Conference of the FCS. I wish I could come up with some way to make this sound like a game, but it does not exist. Even during the darkest days of Orgeron, the Rebels never lost to an FCS team.
9.24 :: at South Carolina
Last year, Chris Smelley had the game of his life in Oxford (22-of-32, 327 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT). To give you an idea of how unusual this was for Smelley, he decided after the season to transfer to Alabama and become a baseball catcher. The Gamecocks were the last unranked team to defeat the Rebels; after a loss the next week to Alabama, Ole Miss reeled off six straight wins.
10.3 :: at Vanderbilt
The second revenge game in a row after last year's 23-17 loss to the Dores. The Rebels lead the series 46-35-2 overall, but Vanderbilt has the edge in Nashville -- 26-20-2. Ole Miss has lost three of the last four against the 'Dores, including two straight in Nashville. You could argue that these are not the Orgeron-era Rebels; but Vanderbilt is also not the certain punching bag it was a during much of Ole Miss' 11-1 run from 1993-2004.
10.10 :: vs. Alabama
This might very well be the biggest game on the schedule. Ole Miss fans, like many of their SEC West brethren, despise the Tide and are looking at this year as a chance to finally get the better of Alabama. This game could end up being the de facto SEC West Championship Game, though we won't know for sure until long after it's been played. The Tide has won 45 of 56 games in this series, including 21 of the last 24. Unless you count a late forfeit of the 1993 game and any forfeits from
this year's the latest Alabama scandal.
10.17 :: vs. UAB
The Rebels best be careful; after all, the Blazers just won nine games. Oh, that's over the last three years. You don't say. Outside of the Sun Belt cellar dwellers, UAB might very well have been the worst FBS team in the country since going 5-6 in 2005. This should be a nice rest for the Rebels between taking on the Crimson Tide and matching up with a resurgent Arkansas. Fortunately, the Blazers are far too weak to upset Ole Miss even if this proves to be a letdown game.
10.24 :: vs. Arkansas
Despite playing 55 times, Arkansas and Ole Miss have only met in Oxford eight times. Arkansas has won three of the last four games there, including the 58-56 seven-overtime marathon in 2001. An intriguing game matching a rebuilding team expected to be hitting its stride and a rebuilding team just getting back on its feet. Oh, and Houston Nutt used to work for Arkansas or something.
10.31 :: at Auburn
Ole Miss has defeated Auburn nine times in its history -- five of those before 1966. Since then, Auburn has gone 22-4 against the Rebels. But Auburn is a mess again this year, and this is not the kind of game for the Tigers to "trap" Ole Miss, who faces just one other serious opponent in a four-game stretch.
11.7 :: vs. Northern Arizona
I could wax self-righteous over the fact that Ole Miss is playing two FCS teams this year, but their own bloggers have done that fairly well. Still, you couldn't hide both of these teams in September, when no one would notice?
11.14 :: vs. Tennessee
The last time the Rebels defeated the Vols, Ronald Reagan was president -- and hadn't yet begun running for re-election (1983). This is an interesting contrast of exuberant head coaches, but it isn't likely to change much in the course of the SEC; Tennessee will either be heavy underdogs or the Rebel's SEC hopes will be over.
11.21 :: vs. LSU
The Bengals come to Oxford this year for what could be the decisive game in the SEC West if Alabama fails to meet expectations. Or it could decide whether we have the sort of three-way tie that bedeviled the Big XII South last year, though the SEC (being superior in everything) has a cleaner way of figuring things out.
11.28 :: at Mississippi State
The 45-0 shellacking of the Bulldogs last year was the most lopsided defeat for either team in the rivalry dating back to 1971 (also the Rebels, this time 48-0). Dan Mullen is unlikely to start his tenure in the in-state rivalry 1-0, but this could become an interesting game if the Rebels are on the cusp of an SEC Championship Game slot when they travel to Starkville.