Ole Miss has sometimes played that thorn in the backside role for many teams in the SEC over the years. They have always been that team you just can’t underestimate. Just ask THE FLORIDA GATORS who have had their fair share of bad luck when playing the Rebels. Hugh Freeze enters his second year as Head Rebel and appears to have things on the right track. He has recruited well, somehow landing the #1 recruit in the country Nkemdiche, has Junior QB Bo Wallace returning with veteran offensive linemen. Ole Miss averaged 31.5 points per game and allowed an average of 27.6 points per game in 2012. The question is whether they can improve upon that in 2013. The reason they may not could be because either the brass at Ole Miss are really super confident in their team… or they are a glutton for punishment when you look at their schedule.
8/31 at Vanderbilt
The Rebels and Commodores get started into SEC play right out of the gate and both teams are looking to improve upon recent success. Since 2008, Vandy has owned this cross divisional series 4-1 and with winner by a margin of 12 points. But Vandy has had a bit of a string of luck with teams like Ole Miss, Tenn and KY being very under average (to say the least) over the past several years. All of those teams should be better in 2013, and Vandy is still looking for a QB. In 2012, this game was won by a point. Ole Miss won had 403 passing yards compared to Vandy’s 267, but Vandy had twice as many rushing yards than Ole Miss. Ole Miss by 10.
9/7 SE Missouri
The RedHawks went 3-8 in Division II football. Rebels will sleep walk to a 30 point win.
Now things start to get a little stressful for Hugh Freeze and the Rebels. You got two games in and likely 2 wins in place. Now you get to travel to Austin to face the Longhorns on their turf this year after losing 66-31 in 2012. The Rebel defense which allowed an average of 27.6 points per game will once again face a Longhorn offense that averaged 35.7 points in 2012. Conversely, the Longhorn defense, which many think did not perform up to expectations, allowed 29.2 points per game and gave up 399 total yards to the Ole Miss defense. Both Ole Miss and Texas has a total of 19 starters returning for 2013. Texas did lose their offensive coordinator to become the Arkansas State head coach, and moved Major Applewhite into that role. There may be a bit of a learning curve with the changes Texas wants to make offensively, but they should have the firepower to still win this game, however, perhaps closer than most will predict. Longhorns by 14.
9/21 OPEN DATE
Yea, the Rebels got their off week just in time to continue a brutal stretch of their schedule. After facing the Longhorns, the Rebels have to go on the road yet again to face the Tide in Tuscaloosa. By this point in the schedule Bama will have faced VaTech (in Atlanta), @Texas A&M, Colorado State before the Rebels come to town to face the best defense in the entire country. This matchup in 2012 was a bit closer and statistically was not as lopsided as most would probably expect. Alabama had only 1 more first down and 87 total yards of offense than Ole Miss. It is entirely possible that the Rebels could keep things close again in 2013, but in the end, even after losing all that talent to the NFL, Bama still has too much for Ole Miss. Tide by 17.
10/5 at Auburn
To recount the dismal year Auburn (and a few other SEC teams) is almost like self inflicting torture. On the flip side, watch out for Ole Miss… well watch for Ole Miss to sorta play down to their opponents as well. Auburn managed 20 points and 213 yards of offense when they only managed an average of 18.7 points per game in all of 2012. That was without Malzahn at the helm. Well Malzahn is back this time as the head WarEagle and brings his system that better fits the personnel in place at Auburn. It’s expected that Auburn will be better on both sides of the ball in 2013, but Ole Miss is more established while the WarKitties are still re-figuring things out. Malzahn finds a way to keep things close. Rebels by 6.
10/12 Texas A&M
I will say it again… Ole Miss has a way of getting in games with the big boys and giving them fits. Such was the case in 2012 where the Aggies won by 3. Both teams cranked up over 400 yards of offense, with 18 more yards of offense for A&M. Both QBs return and both had 2 INTs in this matchup last season. Obviously, both teams struggled to contain the others offensive attack. This game returns for a second year in Oxford which should help the Rebels cause, but in the end I think the Aggies make a few key plays and win a bit more convincingly. Aggies by 10.
The Rebels continue their brutal stretch of games returning home to face the Tigers from Baton Rouge and against another team the Rebels gave their opposing fan base heart failure. In 2012, these two teams also most managed over 400 yards of offense. What is a bit impressive about this is… this was against one of the better defenses in the entire country who allowed an average of 17.5 points per game. This season, LSU heads to Oxford for the annual match up, but they are likely to be just bruised and beaten which is probably good timing for an LSU team who lost a good deal of defensive talent to the NFL. The Tiger offense will be under the direction of former NFL offensive coordinator Cam Cameron who is expected to work wonders with Zach Mettenberger. Since 2008, LSU has dropped 2 games to the Rebels and, if you forget about the 52-3 beat down the Tigers handed out in 2011, the winner of this game came by an average margin of 8 points. That margin of victory will not increase in 2013. Tigers manage a W by 7.
Rebels… meet the Vandals. One of the worst teams in all of college football. I’m not gonna complain about scheduling this especially after that brutal stretch. Ole Miss by 40.
11/2 OPEN DATE
After basically two weeks off to rest up, Ole Miss gets to stay home once again to welcome Bret Bielema on his first trip to Oxford. Despite being terrible, Ole Miss only managed a 3 point win vs. the Razorbacks last year. Which solidifies my argument that Ole Miss plays to the level of competition. Is that to suggest that the Pigs don’t have talent? Not at all. But they were terrible last season nonetheless. Bielema comes to Arkansas with a big attitude and big ambitions. By this point in the schedule, the Ragin Cajuns, Samford, Southern Miss, @Rutgers, Texas A&M, @Florida, South Carolina, @Alabama, and Auburn. Suffice it to say, both of these young teams are probably battle tested. This also probably means that Bielema knows just who and what he has in his Razorbacks team. The winner of this series has won by an average margin of 7.4 points per game. Arkansas should be more organized and coached in 2013. Home field advantage has not really played much into this series, but the Rebels are more established. Rebels by 10.
In 2012, a Troy team took a visit up to Rocky Top and nearly brought it down into crumbles. But that was a Tennessee team that couldn’t stop a snail or earth worm if they wanted to. Luckily for the Vawls, they had Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter to score enough points not to get totally embarrassed by the Trojans. They also gave Miss. State a good run losing that game by 6 points and putting up 572 yards of offense. Ole Miss had a difficult time stopping their fair share of offenses as well… but should be improved in 2013. Ole Miss should have a fairly easy ride through this game, but Troy will find a way to get points up on the board. Rebels by 10.
East meets West. Ole Miss is one game removed from closing out their season with SEC-East foe Missouri who went 5-7 in their inaugural year as a new SEC cast member. The Tigers only managed 2 wins in SEC play… but those were to Tennessee and Kentucky. Their SEC losses came by an average margin of 19 points. Not good if you want you expect to have any success in the SEC. Mizzou averaged 25.8 points per game with a veteran QB and allowed an average of 28.4 points defensively. The Rebels will be looking to becoming bowl eligible again in Freeze’s second year, and they may need this game to get there. They will but it won’t be easy. Rebels by 6.
11/30 @Miss State
The Battle for the Golden Egg or the Egg Bowl, however, you choose to refer to the annual in state clash of Mississippi Titans. This rivalry dates back to 1901 with Ole Miss having a nice hold on the series 61-42-6. Ole Miss won the last meeting 41-24. The average margin of victory for the winner of this game since 2008 is by 22.4 points. The Rebels travel to Starkville this year, and the home team generally has had the advantage in recent memory with a few exceptions. That trend continues with a Miss State team that has a decent defense… and those damn cowbells, but this game will be closer than last year. Bullmutts by 7.
Hugh Freeze and the Rebels will likely see a slight improvement in their record over the last season even though they failed to take down a big boy along the way. However, they will likely come very very close to doing so in 2013. As the experts like to say (and remind me over and over again), building a team is a process and takes time. Freeze should continue to recruit well and eventually slay a giant, but for now Rebel fans will have to be happy with a 7-5 record headed to a bowl game again.