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Ole Misc.: Is Boise State a "Must Win" Game?

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OBNUG asked their readers that question, so we'll do the same here.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

One Bronco Nation Under God, SB Nation's Boise State community, has asked if our kickoff game is a "must win" affair for their Broncos. I won't spoil the answer for you, but rather I'd like to turn the question our way. Is our season kickoff against Boise State a "must win" game for the Rebs?

There are a couple of lines of thinking on that. First, you could offer the "every game is a 'must win'" or "every game counts" trope. This is an answer which, while true, is not particularly meaningful, nor does it get to the heart of the question. The question really is "does a loss here hurt the season or program in any meaningful way." The answer, in my view, is no, unless you're looking at it in terms of opportunity costs.

Ole Miss doesn't stand to lose much in the event of a loss aside from a bit of embarrassment. The idea that Boise State plays up to their competition and relishes the spotlight is still pretty common among the football watching populace, as is the idea of Ole Miss being a bit of an underachiever. A loss would, therefore, fit in nicely with preexisting narratives. It also would not impact Ole Miss' SEC standings nor would it seriously jeopardize the Rebs' chances of bowl eligibility in the event of a loss. So the team could stand to lose the game, despite such a loss really souring what should be an exciting weekend for fans like you and me.

Ole Miss does, however, stand to gain a lot in the case of a win, particularly a convincing one. The game will be ESPN's first televised contest featuring an SEC team this season, and will be the considered the de facto kickoff game by many football fans nationwide (despite the fact that we've already put an FCS game in the books and that other FBS games will kick off before ours). It will be watched by millions upon millions of college football starved eyeballs. The type of exposure for the program these types of games generate is incredibly valuable. Really, you're getting a top-10 showdown type of viewership, despite the game featuring a middle-of-the-pack SEC team and an unranked, non-power five conference team.

Winning is huge in guaranteeing increasing coverage and exposure as the season goes along, which is instrumental to recruiting both new players and fans. So, no, the game's not a "must win" for Ole Miss, but it's definitely a "you'll really regret it if you don't win" game.

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