It’s great and all because of the pool time, vacations, fireworks, lots of patio time et al., but then there’s essentially very little going on in the world of Ole Miss sports. I mean, sure, there’s some postseason awards handed out and apparently the men’s basketball team is traveling to the Bahamas to play some national teams, but otherwise things slow down quite a bit until SEC Media Days.
That being said, let’s talk about football and preview a game that isn’t happening for two months, because fans are eager for kickoff as you are likely poring over Athlon or Phil Steele predictions.
First, here’s a few fun facts about the Troy Trojans - Ole Miss’ first opponent of the 2022 football season.
- Head coach: Jon Sumrall - remember this guy? Formerly an Ole Miss linebacker coach for a year who then went to Kentucky, he is in his first season at the helm. He is the third coach since the Larry Blakeney era which ran from 1991-2014
- First season: 1909
- All-time program record: 554-424-28
- Home facility: Veterans Memorial Stadium at Larry Blakeney Field, capacity 30,470
- Member of the Sun Belt Conference since 2004 when it joined the FBS ranks
- Championships: NAIA National Champions (1968), NCAA Division II National Champions (1984, 1987), 21 various conference championships including six Sun Belt titles
- Last bowl game appearance: 2018 Dollar General Bowl vs. Buffalo, 42-32 win
Alright, so, clearly this is a game Ole Miss fans will expect to win and hopefully win it running away, but I would say this could be a tighter game than anyone wants to admit.
First off, I may be tainted in thinking this, because the days of NCAA video games have fond memories of me running a dynasty mode with Troy and advancing them all the way to the SEC. By the way, EA Sports please hurry up and bring this game back for all of the grown-up nerds like ya boi One Man to Beat.
Last season Troy notched an eight point loss to Liberty, a nine point loss to South Carolina and a seven point loss to Coastal Carolina. None of those finals should be overly scary on the face, but it does show a program who clearly is capable of finding some talent who can play some football.
The early odds on this football game put Ole Miss as a three touchdown favorite according to the Vegas bookmakers. This seems like a huge number especially not knowing a few things about this Rebel squad most namely who will be the starting quarterback.
Here are a few expectations the Cup has for this game I am mentally preparing for two months out however.
- It’s going to be hot as “insert Southern metaphor here”. Whatever you are drinking, make sure water is incorporated, so we don’t have to carry your ass out of the aisle when you inevitably pass out.
- There will be two or three quarterbacks used in this game. Does it mean there’s a controversy and things are headed in the wrong direction? No. I think Kiffin is going to play whoever is best at the position, and I’m not sure anyone knows who is going to win this job permanently.
- Fans will find out who the go-to wide receiver is for this season. It has been a penchant of Kiffin’s offenses that there is “a guy” who will get the lion’s share of the passes, and it should be evident from the get-go who that will be.
- The defense will most likely make a statement in this game - for better or for worse. There are four returning starters in the secondary, and LB Cedric Johnson seems to be cementing himself as the leader on defense. This side of the ball lost a good bit of talent, and fans will surely be nervous as these guys gel the first few weeks.
Unfortunately, if I was to head to Tunica right now, I’m not assured I could lay a mortgage payment on Ole Miss covering three touchdowns. There’s just too much unknown right now for me, but if you want to jump in the comments and tell me how wrong I am, please go for it. Or if you can add a prediction for the first game of the season, have at it. Cheers!