Ole Miss Football: Season Outlook

Derek StephensSenior Analyst IJuly 14, 2008

As the season grows nearer, Ole Miss fans are feeling much anticipation to get it going.  Ole Miss fans are tired of hearing about "0-8" in the SEC and believe, although they still have the majority of the team from last year, that this is a transformed squad with a new coaching staff.

We'll look at the upcoming season and the predicted score of each game.

August 30 vs. Memphis

Ole Miss has played Memphis close throughout the years.  Who knows what this year will bring?  Ole Miss led Memphis last year 20-0 at halftime but had Memphis storm back in dramatic fashion, yet Ole Miss was still able to hold off the Tigers and win 23-21.

Memphis has 18 returning starters but must replace their QB, albeit with a decent one, as they have incoming JUCO transfer in Arkelon Hall.

Ole Miss, at home in the first game of the Houston Nutt era, definitely has the superior talent, but obviously superior talent hasn't won in all cases in this series (see 2003).  I still believe Ole Miss pulls this one out though.

Predicted Score: Ole Miss 31 - Memphis 17

September 6 at Wake Forest

This game means a lot for Ole Miss as they look to rebound from 2006's loss to the Deacons.  They thought they would be playing an ACC bottom feeder but met the future ACC Champions instead, losing 27-3 in a rain-drenched stadium.  Wake Forest will be playing on their home field this time around, and they have a lot of hype and are already in a couple of preseason top 25 polls.

This is going to be an ABC game at 2:30 pm, and Ole Miss sees this as a chance to get some major spotlight in the college football world.  Looking at it on paper, being a logical fan, I have to give the slight edge to Wake Forest.

Predicted Score: Wake Forest 38 - Ole Miss 31

September 13 vs. Samford

Ole Miss scheduled a home game that features a reunion for Samford QB Matt Malouf, who is originally from Oxford.  Although Samford returns 15 starters, they're still a 4-7 team from last year on the DI-AA level.  Unless a meltdown occurs with the Rebels, they should handle this one easily.

Predicted Score: Ole Miss 42 - Samford 10

September 20 vs. Vanderbilt

Ole Miss and Vandy come together every year as SEC West-SEC East opponents and usually play each other well, and this year looks to be no different.  However, Vandy only returns 11 starters, with just three on offense.  With this game being at home for the Rebels and a must-win game for any chance at a bowl game in most cases, I see the Rebels winning, but not big.

Predicted Score: Ole Miss 28 - Vanderbilt 24

September 27 at Florida

A writer for BleacherReport.com recently said, "When Florida plays Ole Miss, you know who is going to win!"  I take that as if he believes Florida is going to win every time, but he must not know that Ole Miss has beaten the Gators two out of the last three times, one of those being in Ben Griffin Stadium, and the loss being a 30-24 heartbreaker.

Am I saying Ole Miss is going to beat Florida this year?  Probably not, but I'm saying it's going to be closer than what people think.

Jevan Snead originally committed to Florida, but after hearing that Florida was looking around for other QBs, he decommitted.  Florida later signed Tim Tebow (well, I guess that worked out, huh?).  I believe Jevan will have a little bit of a chip on his shoulders, not of jealousy, but as a competitor.

Predicted Score: Florida 38 - Ole Miss 34

October 4 vs. South Carolina

South Carolina looks to rebound from a 6-6 season in which they stayed home during bowl season.  I know Houston Nutt's going to be preaching to his team that they must win this game to get a bowl game.

This seems to be a real swing game, but I really think that Ole Miss is going to be able to pull this out, as I believe South Carolina will definitely be looking ahead as Kentucky, LSU, and Tennessee loom.

Predicted Score: Ole Miss 21 - South Carolina 20

October 18 at Alabama

As I've said in a past article, I believe that Alabama is a true sleeper to win the SEC West.  They return 17 starters and bring in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.  Ole Miss has never had much success in Tuscaloosa, although the last time the Rebels were there, they fell in OT.

I may not be giving my Rebs enough credit, seeing as they've lost by three points to the Tide each of the past three yeras, but I do believe, that the Tide take this one over the Rebels.

Predicted Score: Alabama 38 - Ole Miss 28

October 25 at Arkansas

What else is there to say about this game?  If you don't believe this game means anything to Arkansas fans, you need to check out my recent article, as it is currently ranked the No. 2 most commented recent article on Bleacher Report:

Houston...We Don't Have a Problem!

While I believe Arkansas could give Ole Miss serious problems in the next couple of years, with a no-doubt future star in Ryan Mallett and a proven coach in Bobby Petrino, the losses of Felix Jones, Darren McFadden, Marcus Monk, and Peyton Hillis will be costly on offense.  The Razorbacks also only return four starters on defense.

I'm going on my observation of both teams currently, but I'm not saying my opinion won't change down the road in the season.  Please don't take it personally, Arkansas fans, because depending on how hostile this crowd will be, the game swaying the other way seems very possible.

With me being an optimist, and seeing Arkansas without McFadden and Jones to lead the offense, and instead relying on QB Casey Dick, I'm going with the Rebels in a close one.

Predicted Score: Ole Miss 28 - Arkansas 25

November 1 vs. Auburn

Auburn returns 14 starters with an array of talent.  They're coming off a decent season by their standards, and they've hired a new offensive coordinator, who I believe will work wonders.

This game always means something to Ole Miss with former coach Tommy Tuberville on the Auburn sidelines, but I believe Auburn QB Kodi Burns will be able to lead an explosive offense to Oxford and come out with a win.

Predicted Score: Auburn 38 - Ole Miss 24

November 15 vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Louisiana-Monroe pulled a shocker last year, knocking off Alabama in a game no one would've ever given them a chance in.  This year, they look to knock off Ole Miss on their home field.

However, Ole Miss is the definite favorite in this one, as Houston Nutt took two key staff members from Louisiana-Monroe—assistant head coach Ron Dickerson and defensive coordinator Kim Dameron.  I see the Warhawks staying close for a quarter, at most.

Predicted Score: Ole Miss 38 - Louisiana-Monroe 13

November 22 at LSU

Personally, as an Ole Miss fan, there's no other game I'd rather win than this one.  Nothing hurt worse in 2003 than seeing the eventual national champions escape from Oxford with a 17-14 win.

Five years down the road, it was the same story.  Ole Miss has consistently played LSU close (with an occasional blowout), as the last time these two matched up in Baton Rouge it was an overtime affair where the LSU Tigers escaped once again.

If all of my current predictions (of W's and L's that is) come true, Ole Miss is currently at 6-4.  Ole Miss has a coach who took LSU to a three-OT thriller last year, and without the help of many teams in championship week, LSU wouldn't have had a chance at a national championship victory.

Can Houston Nutt pull it off again?  Probably not this year, unless LSU really struggles without a star QB.  If Ole Miss did, it would probably be the highlight of my season, regardless of the record.

Predicted Score: LSU 28 - Ole Miss 17

November 28 vs. Mississippi State

I'm an optimist, as you've probably already noticed, but let's look at the odds here.  I've heard it since November: "State is on the rise."  I really don't disagree with that statement, as I see State probably making another bowl game this season.

But did anyone bother to watch the Egg Bowl?  One of the worst Ole Miss-coached teams in recent years, maybe in team history, almost beat the eight-win Dogs and dominated three quarters at Starkville.

As I stated in my SEC West preview article, Mississippi State so played many close games last year that with a couple wrong turns, they could've easily had a four-win season.  Do I think State is capable of an eight-win season?  Definitely, it could be so!

Do I think they're capable of a nine or 10-win season?  More than likely not.  They lose defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, All-SEC defender Titus Brown, and starting tackle Michael Brown, who was kicked off the team.

Combine all this with playing at Ole Miss (where MSU hasn't won in a decade), playing a coach who has had great success against Mississippi State (9-1 in 10 years), and I truly (that's truly as in truly, not from a biased view) believe that the odds are in Ole Miss's favor.  I do believe, as mostly always, this game will come down to the wire.

Predicted Score: Ole Miss 28 - Mississippi State 21


Looking back, if all these W's and L's prove true, Ole Miss is looking at a 7-5 campaign for 2008 and a Independence/Music City/Liberty Bowl berth.  ESPN.com recently gave their bowl projections for 2008 and had Ole Miss projected in a Liberty Bowl matchup with the Houston Cougars, which proves they must agree with at least a six-win season for the Rebels.

I really think South Carolina and Arkansas are swing games, but I'm optimistic that Ole Miss will be able to pull off both.  I hope Ole Miss pulls off at least one of those games to be in contention for a bowl game in December, unless they knock off Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.

Remember though, although I have the Rebels with seven wins and may be predicting a win in a future loss column, I also may be not giving my Rebs enough credit against teams that they could possibly beat (e.g. at Florida, due to the close game last year, or at Alabama, due to losing by just three points to Bama each of the last three years).

Please give me some feedback.  Who am I overlooking?  Leave some facts as to why.  Thanks for reading and again, God Bless You!

Derek Stephens is an Ole Miss Community Leader for BleacherReport.com.


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