The last time I saw Ole Miss participate in an organized football contest, it was getting pantsed on national television. I'm unsure of the game's ultimate conclusion, because I stopped watching even before halftime, but since I saw nary a tweet or text regarding an amazing second-half comeback by the Rebs, I assume they were not victorious and were also not close in becoming so.
Following that game however, some of Mississippi's best players, and some of its not-so-great-but-at-least-they-were-experienced players, e.g., Bo Wallace, ran out of eligibility. So, it would be natural for many to assume that Ole Miss will take a step back this year, on account of the aforementioned being rather imperative to its surprising 2014 run. However, there will be no retrograde for the Rebels. At worst, Mississippi will finish with a record identical to that of last season, which again, I assume is 9-4 considering it was 9-3 going into its final game, of which, I'm almost certain it did not win. At best, Ole Miss could be looking at something like 11-2, or even 12-2 (!) — a record it could have maybe attained last season, had some of its best players not pulled up lame down the stretch. I'll go with 11-2.
Like last year, Ole Miss's first test of this season comes against Alabama, and it's a really intriguing matchup because both teams will still kinda sorta be breaking in new quarterbacks. There are other reasons for the intrigue also, of course: namely, two talented defenses doing their damndest to take pressure off their verdant offenses. Here's the thing about those defenses, though: while Ole Miss lost its best player on the backend from a year ago, unlike its opponent, it still has at least one highly-dependable option, Tony Conner, defending passes on plays in which passes are thrown far downfield. Meaning, that on every level of its defense, Ole Miss has at least one player, ranging from highly-dependable (Conner) to superstar (Robert Nkemdiche), on whom it can count on to cumber Alabama from crossing the touchdown plane. Alabama does not have this, and therefore, Alabama will drop this somewhat-important early season contest to Ole Miss. The game will be ugly — like, 3-0; 6-3 at best.
Ole Miss will be feeling pretty good about itself at this point, and rightfully so. But there's something about the Rebels going on the road to Florida — whose defense could be as stingy as any in found in the 48 contiguous states — that has me nervous on Rebel the Black Bear's behalf. I cannot comfortably predict an Ole Miss win here, and so I won't. One loss for Ole Miss, and again, in grotesque field-goal-scores-only, fashion.
The backend of the Rebels' schedule is as loaded as any team this side of LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, or Arkansas. It's pretty nuts. While Ole Miss could theoretically win the rest of its games, it faces too much talent and girth and speed, to beat every single one of its in-division opponents. And so, the Rebels will lose to Auburn, who is considered by lots to be the best the conference has to offer. This alone makes it an un-shameful defeat, but it becomes even more respectable when considering they play this contest on the road, in a place known to become pretty maniacal at times. Anyway, Ole Miss will win the rest of its games, bowl game included.
The Nkemdiche brothers—Robert has a littler big brother, in linebacker Denzel—will both be first-team All-Americans, which hasn't happened since when? (This is not rhetorical, does anyone know if this has happened before, I couldn't find it.) And wide out Laquon Treadwell, who last year suffered a season-ending injury that I refuse to re-watch, will be college football's unofficial comeback player of the year following an All-American season of his own. Ole Miss has other good football players, like Laremy Tunsil and Evan Engram, who will alongside Conner, be named to prestigious All-Something teams at season's end; which is why Ole Miss will have a really good year of footballing, one that I guarantee will not end however it ended last year.