According to the ESPN Football Power Index, Ole Miss football has the toughest schedule in the country for the 2023 season.
Now, most of this comes from two road games on the schedule - Alabama and Georgia. The two time defending national champions out of Athens will be replacing a lot of talent yet again, but its recruiting success has been well documented. As far as the Tide, Ole Miss makes that trip every other year and generally is not successful.
Since the series began in 1894, there is 2015 and 1988 as the two times the Rebels have beaten Bama in Tuscaloosa. There will definitely be some hype leading into this game as Lane Kiffin goes back into Bryant-Denny Stadium, and there’s a chance both teams will be ranked in the top 25 and undefeated.
The history between Ole Miss and Georgia, however, is lopsided but not nearly as significantly. While the Bulldogs have a 10 game winning streak over Ole Miss, the Rebels most recently conquered the Eastern Division foe in 1996 in Athens, 31-27. Strangely enough, the safety for the Bulldogs that season was sophomore Kirby Smart who is now the head coach for Georgia.
There’s a couple wins forfeited by the NCAA, but Ole Miss’ overall record stands at 12-32-1 not counting the forfeits against Georgia. So still not a lot of optimism for these two opponents on the road.
I think the schedule is getting a hefty bump from Tulane who finished last season very hot, but lost its best running back and some serious talent off the team. I’m not sure the Green Wave will be a top 25 team, but it will still be some kind of road test for the Rebels.
The rest of the schedule most SEC fans will recognize as just the meat grinder that is the SEC Western Division. It’s just a reality for Ole Miss it has to play Arkansas, Texas A&M, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State every year. After this season, that reality is likely to change, and perhaps schedules will have easier years than others. But for now, the Rebels have a daunting schedule ahead of them.
The difference in toughness in any SEC schedule is pretty miniscule though when fans really think about it. Twelve of the 14 SEC squads ranked in the top 25 toughest schedules - it’s just about how well a team’s non-conference opponents did in previous seasons and who each team drew out of the opposing divisions.
Ole Miss has drawn the short straw as it were, so perhaps a 7-5 or 8-4 record this season should signal a stronger team given a different schedule and that is a narrative Rebel fans will have to get used to this season potentially.