As spring practice slowly approaches and the college football dead period dwindles, the first kickoff of the 2020 season is less than 200 days away. After a whirlwind of an offseason within the SEC West, new-look Ole Miss will hit the gridiron under new head coach Lane Kiffin for the first time on March 17th with nowhere to go but up after a poor showing during the 2019 season that ended in four wins.
With all the hype that surrounds Kiffin and his impressive staff, there are high expectations for the next few years in Oxford. Returning a high-powered offense led by John Rhys Plumlee and Jerrion Ealy in 2019, the 44-year-old head coach inherits a stacked quarterback room filled with three uniquely talented signal-callers, a group of sophomore running backs and high-profile incoming freshman, and a receiving core that consists of primarily former four-star recruits highlighted by Elijah Moore.
The offense offers a good-to-have problem with too much talent and not enough places to play them. On the other side of the ball, Kiffin and his new defensive coordinators Chris Partridge and D.J. Durkin will have work to do, but have a lot of youth that showed potential at their disposal.
All things considered, Ole Miss will be significantly better. The outlook is so positive that Stadium sports’ college football insider Brett McMurphy ranked the Rebels No. 25 in his way-too-early top 25 for 2020. Here’s what he had to say:
The Lane Train takes over in Oxford. New coach Lane Kiffin inherits a talented group that features six Rebels who started last year as freshmen or sophomores, including freshman QB John Rhys Plumlee and WRs Jonathan Mingo and Elijah Moore. Last season, Plumlee led the SEC in rushing yards per game (113.7 yards). Kiffin’s debut season with Ole Miss certainly won’t lack storylines as the Rebels home schedule includes contests with Auburn, Alabama, Florida and the first meeting with Kiffin and new Mississippi State Head Coach Mike Leach in the Egg Bowl.
McMurphy’s complete ‘Way-Too-Early’ Top 25 is as follows:
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Iowa State
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- North Carolina
- Virginia Tech
- Oklahoma State
- Ole Miss
Having insiders pick the Rebels for a bounce-back season is certainly what fans can hope, but program building takes some time and may not show the results in Kiffin’s first year.
What is Ole Miss’ ceiling? What is the floor? Will the Rebels reach a bowl game despite the difficult schedule? Let us know what you think about how the season will shake out, and if you think Kiffin and co. should be ranked to begin the season!