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Countdown to Ole Miss football: The Roaring 20s are here

Our sons are officially 23 days away from stepping into the rectangular circle.

Syndication: The Tennessean Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

After months on the open water, we can see the 2023 Ole Miss football season on the horizon, most notably the cliffs of Wellsgate and the trash hill every freshman in Stockard and Martin, past and present, must walk up.

In about three weeks, Ole Miss faces off against Mercer at 1 PM in what should be the largest collective fan back sweat experience ever. Hydration and sunscreen will be the keys to personal victories that day.

While those in attendance will get a taste of nature’s BROIL setting, they may also be treated to an annoying game. Mercer finished 7th in FCS total offense last season and 6th in points per game (38.2), which indicates they know what they’re doing.

In fact, one coach I follow on Twitter says they have one of the “most creative schemes in the country.” When you’re overhauling a defense with average-ish talent, that matchup is not exactly slowly wading into the water.

The Bears also return their top two wide receivers (both were all-conference players in 2022), but they are replacing their starting quarterback. However, that same coach notes Mercer has one of the most well-designed screen games he’s seen.

Fortunately, the Ole Miss defense has been historically wise to the screen game and...

[puts hand to ear]

Wait, what’s that?

I see.

It’s always been like that?

Well, shoot.

[looks back into camera]

Folks, we’re getting some new information, and you should prepare to be annoyed.

I can already see a defensive lineman inches away from a sack before the quarterback hits his tight end (watch the tight end on the end of the line of scrimmage next to the left tackle).

Ole Miss will win, but the ingredients are there for the blowout to be more of the three-score variety rather than the, oh let’s say, 63-point obliteration we all want to see.

In steering this ship back in the direction of the countdown, today’s exercise is a trip to the 1920s and drinking in the excesses of that decade, like 63-point wins.

For Ole Miss football, it was not a successful decade. The football team went 40-47-4 and had just four winning seasons, never winning more than five games in any year.

However, since this was early 1900s college football, you could stink and blow teams out. That’s because they may have fielded a roster of 16-year olds and 37-year old manual laborers who didn’t go to the school but were added to the roster on Wednesday to meet numbers requirements.

To recognize the excesses of football in the 1920s, we’re going to roll through 23 games in which Ole Miss either destroyed a team or was on the receiving end of a destruction.

1920 - Ole Miss 33, Arkansas Aggies 0

Fun fact: This was Jerry Jones’ club team before he bought the Cowboys.

Note: Possibly not true. Who’s to say?

1920 - Ole Miss 54, Mississippi Normal 0

Mississippi Normal became known as Southern Mississippi in 1962. You won’t find this in the history books, but it was a re-branding effort after a former Mississippi Normal quarterback stole money for polio vaccines in the late 1950s.

1920 - Ole Miss 86, Union 0

If you were a newspaper editor in 1920 Mississippi looking to melt message board servers, a good headline for the game story would’ve been “Ole Miss finally beats Union, but the one without Lincoln and Grant.”

1920 - Tulane 32, Ole Miss 0

A trip to New Orleans that ends with a balance of zero. Who among us can judge!

1920 - Ole Miss 36, SPU 6

South Panola University* taking time away from another run of four straight state championships.

*Fine, this was Southwestern College in Memphis.

1921 - Ole Miss 82, West Tennessee Normal 0

West Tennessee Normal is present-day University of Memphis, and the city became part of the school’s name in 1941. Somewhat related, West Tennessee Normal works well for a band name and album name.

1921 - Ole Miss 49, Millsaps 0

I have no evidence, but this game alone is probably the reason Tate Reeves has never been a fan of Ole Miss and ran into the arms of his Bully Bloc donors.

1921 - Ole Miss 35, SPU 0

It’s tough for South Panola when the Jerry’s and Pegues’ weren’t there yet.

1922 - Centre 55, Ole Miss 0

I have nothing on this game, but I wanted to note that two years after beating Union 86-0, Ole Miss tied them 0-0 to open the 1922 season. It would not surprise you the team scored 87 points in 10 games that season.

1922 - Tennessee 49, Ole Miss 0

Well, these things happen, but the schedule will get easier when they play the Tennessee Doctors in Memphis in a few weeks.

1922 - Tennessee Doctors 32, Ole Miss 0

Ah, well, nevertheless.

Interestingly, Ole Miss’ quarterback and team captain was Calvin C. Barbour, Jr. Unclear if he was related to former Mississippi governor and Ole Miss alum Haley Barbour, unless we have audio of him pronouncing “casino.”

CUH-SEEN-AH.

1923 - Alabama 56, Ole Miss 0

Getting wrecked in Tuscaloosa is one of the great Ole Miss traditions.

1923 - Ole Miss 33, SPU 0

Put SPU back on the schedule. We’re hearing it more and more.

1924 - Alabama 61, Ole Miss 0

This game was played in Montgomery, almost as if Alabama was flexing and saying pick a city in the state, and we will beat you by a thousand.

1925 - Ole Miss 53, Arkansas Aggies 0

Can we look into playing this version of Arkansas going forward? Asking for my mental health.

1925 - Texas 25, Ole Miss 0

As I’ve said before, I live in Austin and want to note we are at 32 consecutive days of the temperature being over 100 degrees (not heat index). On top of that, we’ve had 27 days over 105 degrees, and the highs for the next seven days are:

  • 108
  • 107
  • 107
  • 106
  • 106
  • 106
  • 106

My point being, visit but don’t move here. If you visit, I will tell you about the best taco places, but if you move here, I will NEVER tell you because I don’t need yet another person in front of me in line on a regular basis.

1925 - Ole Miss 31, Southwestern 0

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ole Miss scored 36 total points in nine games in 1924. Incredibly, they won four games:

  • 10-7
  • 7-0
  • 10-6
  • 7-0

If you’re doing the math, that means in the five games they lost, they were outscored 129-2. That’s the bipolar sweet stuff.

1926 - Ole Miss 28, Arkansas Aggies 0

Entirely possible this was the loss that convinced Jerry Jones to buy the Cowboys over 60 years later.

1927 - Ole Miss 58, College of the Ozarks 0

Given the proximity to Branson, Missouri, feels like the College of the Ozarks team had a lot of irons in tourism entertainment fires and weren’t entirely focused on this game.

1927 - Ole Miss 39, Southwestern 0

The name change from SPU did not help.

1928 - Ole Miss 25, Arkansas 0

A non-stressful game against Arkansas. PEOPLE IN 1928 LIVED LIKE KINGS.

1928 - Ole Miss 34, Southwestern 2

Don’t let your curiosity over how Ole Miss gave up a safety (which I’m sure was hilarious) distract you from the fact the team captain was named Thad “Pie” Vann, and he was an offensive lineman. Make “Pie” a nickname again, IMO.

1929 - SMU 52, Ole Miss 0

The intersection of Highland Park, SMU, Ole Miss, and crazy money calls for a quote from The Great Gatsby, published in 1925:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.