In a little more than a month, assuming things do not power slide into a ditch between now and then, the Lane Kiffin era at Ole Miss will begin with a home game against the Florida Gators and Dan Mullen. It will be Mullen’s first trip to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium since 2016 when his Mississippi State team called in the bill on Hugh Freeze’s choices that led to a crumbling program, delivering a 55-20 pasting.
A repeat performance of said pasting seems unlikely, but if years of fandom have taught us anything, it’s that nothing is ever off the menu when it comes to Ole Miss sports. No matter what the result is (mark me down as believing in this competent coaching staff getting a non-awful result), that we could even play the game should be enjoyed.
A few weeks ago, the likelihood of playing was very much in the NOT GREAT, BOB category. While the world around us is seemingly forever locked in that category, the odds of starting the season have shifted to IT’S NOT TERRIBLE, BOB. Who knows if they’ll be able to finish the season, but I’m hopeful we’ll see some anxiety-riddled football games.
In the words of our head coach:
While the cowards at the SEC office in Birmingham refused to try something unique in a throw-away year by opening the season with the Egg Bowl (as well as the Iron Bowl), they did move the game with our real* rival to the last contest of the season. While I really like closing out the season with LSU, a lot of Ole Miss fans always want to see this game scheduled on or around Halloween.
I suppose this comes out of a fondness for the times when the game was traditionally played on or near October 31st. As a counterpoint, I, for one, do not care for the Halloween scheduling, as it brings back the grainy video of a future dentist felon running a punt back for a touchdown, which ruined a perfect Ole Miss season.
“(Orgeron) said, ‘Everybody’s girlfriend sleeps with other people,’ ” the former player told USA TODAY.
As long as he said it in his gravelly, folksy voice and ended with “Go Tigers”, it’s fine!
We’ve got huge first game of the season energy, plus Florida checks in at 61st in returning offensive and defensive production. Obviously, they’ll have more talent than Ole Miss, but they’ll also be figuring out who they are on the fly, meaning they’re trying to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Ole Miss will have similar issues with a new coaching staff (though 35th in returning production), but, as the underdog, catching Florida early before they figure themselves out is a positive. It may not make a difference in the outcome, but after four years of feeling nothing, who among us wouldn’t want the terror of a close game against a good team?
Another team dealing with significant production losses (78th in returning production; btw, LSU is 127th, LOL), yet also has more talent than Ole Miss. As with the Florida game, Ole Miss likely loses this one, but we’ve spotted the puncher’s chance talk out there, and we’re looking into it because we love to see it.
Related, I really hope Gus Malzahn used his university credit card when buying all of his Waffle House takeout during quarantine. Someone who is motivated and knows how to FOIA should get on that and give us a dollar amount STAT.
While bad teams and likely garbage games, we have to get excited about more than likely wins because there probably won’t be many. Also, you can sense the massive Jefferson Pilot energy here, which raises the question of why there isn’t a Jefferson Pilot Hall of Fame and why Ole Miss/Vanderbilt hasn’t been enshrined already. THE SYSTEM STINKS.
(6) South Carolina
(6) Mississippi State
Welcome to the toss-up round of the 2020 schedule. Ole Miss is capable of winning all three of these games but just as capable of losing all three, which is equal parts exciting and being unconscious while face down in a shallow pool of rainwater.
Of this trio, South Carolina and State are the most likely wins (USC is 32nd in returning production, while State is 110th), but I’m not choosy and will accept anything that results in 2-1 out of this rhombus of mediocrity.
(9) Texas A&M
The Aggies are one of the most uninteresting non-bad teams in college football. They usually beat who they should beat and lose to teams better than they are. They’re efficiently boring on offense but good enough defensively to hang around.
If not for a trash fumble return for a touchdown, last year’s Aggie team likely loses to Matt Luke’s 4-8 team. A&M is a miserable team to watch and, if I let the soccer fan in me speak, they’re lacking in ideas and bring zero joy to the game.
Forgive me for not putting slowly being ground into dust higher on the list. HOWEVER, in the name of hot #taeks, I think Mac Jones, in limited action, benefited from an absurd wide receiver group last year, and we’ll see a regression to the mean in 2020. That probably changes nothing in their season results, but his stats will take a tumble, which will JUSTIFY THE #TAEK.