Key Games for Ole Miss in 2008
You know those games. Those games you look at at the beginning of the season and talk about before, during, and even after the season is over. Those games that can make or break your season. They're not the huge games on Ole Miss's schedule, such as at Florida or at LSU, but the ones that Ole Miss needs to win to step it up and make it to a bowl game.
The almost unanimous consensus goal of Rebel fans this season is to see a bowl game for the first time since 2003. Some say the goal is unreachable, but the Rebel fans aren't hearing it. Key additions to the roster, a complete change in staff, and a new QB have all the Rebel fans counting down the days until the season starts.
Let's, in turn, breakdown the key dates in the Rebels 2008 season:
4) Memphis 8/30 (6 p.m.)
FlashbackEven former coach Ed Orgeron was able to go 3-0 against the Tigers, although every game was a battle until the end. Last year, Ole Miss held on to defeat the Tigers 23-21, after the Rebels were winning 20-0 at halftime and 23-0 at one point in the 3rd quarter.
Nearly everyone, not just from Ole Miss, expects the Rebels to win this game. However, that's not the goal for Ole Miss fans. To show that Ole Miss is back, fans feel as though the Rebels need to make a statement on the first game of the season and win big. This would be a huge stepping stone toward's the next week's matchup.
3) at Arkansas 10/25 (TBA)
The 44-8 beatdown the Hogs put on the Rebels last season almost looks irrelavant. Both 100 yard rushers in that game, Felix Jones and Darren McFadden, are gone and a whole new coaching staff has came in.
This game will get tons of national exposure, as Houston Nutt, a disliked coach by the Hogs even while he was there, returns to Fayetteville to stand on the other sidelines. This game means a lot for Rebel fans, but even more to Razorback fans. You can tell when most message boards have a countdown timer to the game. It may mean more to Ole Miss fans if the Rebels come in with five wins at the time needing one more to be bowl eligible.
2) at Wake Forest 9/06 (2:30 pm) ABC
In 2006, Ole Miss scheduled Wake Forest for a 2006/2008 home and home series for some tuneups against mid-level SEC opponents. Little did they know, they would be playing the future ACC Champions. The Rebels got smacked 27-3 in a game delayed more than an hour for rain.
Considering the Rebels get by the Tigers, this game means so much to the Ole Miss coaches, fans, and players. Wake Forest will more than likely be a top 25 team when the Rebels travel to Winston Salem, and this game could be one of those that puts Ole Miss's confidence over the hump. This game is also on national television, a 2:30 ABC game. Winning this game on the road against a top 25 opponent will also give the Rebels some national exposure.
1) Mississippi State 11/28 (11:30 a.m.) Raycom TV
Almost unspeakable to Rebel fans and still on the Bulldog's minds, the Rebels dominated the first three quarters of the 2007 matchup, winning 14:00 halfway through the 4th quarter. Needless to say, the Rebels messed up with less than nine minutes to play when they elected to go for it on 4th down and failed, giving the Bulldogs momentum to take the ball and eventually the win with a GW field-goal with less than a minute to play.
This game not only means a lot to the Rebels, but just as much or more to the Bulldogs. Ole Miss could even come into this game with the five win mark and needing a win for a bowl game, which would make implications even bigger for this game. Mississippi State hasn't beaten Ole Miss in Oxford since 1998, a decade ago. Houston Nutt has also had success against MSU, being 9-1 in his 10 years against the Bulldogs.
Derek Stephens is the Ole Miss Community Leader for BleacherReport.com
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