Ole Miss football has released its official revised schedule for 2020 and it adds Kentucky and South Carolina to the eight previously-scheduled Southeastern Conference opponents.
We are one step closer to a reality where there may be a college football season and fans can finally pore and obsess over firm opponents and dates on a page. It may not be Big Uglies knocking skulls, or John Rhys Plumlee running for a zillion yards against Dave Aranda, but it’s something. Football is coming back, for now. Can you smell it?
This new slate of games comes after the SEC moved to a 10-game, conference-only format in July. The decision comes as part of the fallout of the COVID-19 global pandemic and includes moving the season start to September 26, nearly three weeks after the originally planned season opener against Baylor over Labor Day weekend.
Here is the new schedule:
- Week 1 — September 26: vs. Florida Gators
- Week 2 — October 3: at Kentucky Wildcats
- Week 3 — October 10: vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
- Week 4 — October 17: at Arkansas Razorbacks
- Week 5 — October 24: vs. Auburn Tigers
- Week 6 — October 31: at Vanderbilt Commodores
- Week 7 — November 7: BYE
- Week 8 — November 14: vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
- Week 9 — November 21: at Texas A&M Aggies
- Week 10 — November 28: vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
- Week 11 — December 5: at Louisiana State Tigers
Of all of the options presented, the added SEC East opponents are the best case scenario for Ole Miss. Neither beating Kentucky nor South Carolina is an unthinkable situation, the latter will have to travel, and avoiding Georgia is a relief.
A Florida team that is projected to be competitive this fall was already on the schedule and it will be difficult to imagine an upset scenario, but facing Dan Mullen and the Gators at home in week one could level the playing field as a result of the quick turnaround and short, tumultuous offseason. The new reality with COVID-19 protocols in college football will change travel schedules, make for unique pregame programs and cause teams to be slightly uncomfortable in their routines. The Rebels will be able to walkthrough its game plan during the week before and proceed with confidence.
Should bowl games proceed to be played as planned this winter, the Rebels will be credited two FCS victories by NCAA blanket waiver and need four conference wins to reach bowl eligibility. From there, the opponents and outlooks remain the same. As was the case with the previous schedule, Arkansas and Vanderbilt in weeks four and six will remain crucial components to reaching six wins. Question marks can be placed next to Texas A&M in week nine and Auburn in week five, and losses can likely be attributed to LSU in the final week of the season and Alabama in week three.
And then of course, the Egg Bowl is the Egg Bowl. Rumors of it being played to open the season are officially debunked and the game being played in the second half of the 10-game slate will make it a determining factor for both Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Both schools face a difficult early portion to the year and will need to secure wins late in the season. Surely the Thanksgiving weekend match-up will be calm, cool and collected, and both fan bases will all get along even more than under normal circumstances while sitting around the turkey.
In many ways, the 2020 season will come with an exceptionally long leash for Lane Kiffin and his staff. It has been an off-season of unusual circumstance that has led to an unprecedented schedule for the best conference in football to beat up on itself week-in and week-out. Even with the challenges that come with the gauntlet this fall, there are nuggets of hope in the schedule and ending Kiffin’s first year with at least four on-field wins isn’t out of the picture.