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Ole Miss’ away games road to the college football playoff

To be one of the last 12 teams, Ole Miss will have to do things they don’t do in certain locations.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Mississippi at Penn State Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

When the hype train comes for Ole Miss, it’s usually in your best interest to stockpile provisions of serenity now for use when the inevitable derailment occurs in spectacular fashion.

The hype train can come in the form of preseason hype (see: 2009) or in-season hype after a win or two of significance (see: 2014 and 2015). The derailment can come in the form of a roster issues and coaching malpractice (see: 2009), bad injury luck (see: 2014 and 2015), and 4th-and-25 laterals that bounce directly to the one player who can run with ball (see: 2015).

For the 2024 Ole Miss team, the hype began shortly after the 2023 team’s win over Penn State in the Peach Bowl.* Almost every player with significant production chose to return for next season, and Ole Miss added (and continues to add) serious weight to the roster through the transfer portal.

*Contractually obligated to remind everyone that was the first 11-win season in school history.

On paper (or on your computer/device screen because who is looking at things on paper), the 2024 roster is talented enough to make the college football playoff. Of course, as we all know from the ungodly number of hours we’ve spent watching sports, teams that should do something don’t always do it because [gestures at the randomness and variance involved, particularly when the sport is played by 18- to 22-year olds].

With Ole Miss’ returning and added talent, they’ve done what they can to remove as much randomness and variance via overwhelming skill. While Ole Miss doesn’t have the depth Lane Kiffin and coaches would like at certain spots and could use upgrades on the offensive line,* there are no massive red flags with blinking red lights on the roster.

*As of this writing, #SAUCES say the two visiting Washington offensive linemen (starters from 2023) will join Ole Miss for 2024.

Barring a barrage of injuries, Ole Miss’ roster is in a good spot to be in position to make the playoff. So where might we see any derailment?

(eyes closed with a deep breath and long exhale)

Road games in places where Ole Miss doesn’t win.

Here is Ole Miss’ 2024 schedule:

  • vs. Furman
  • vs. MTSU
  • at Wake Forest
  • vs. Georgia Southern
  • vs. Kentucky
  • at South Carolina
  • at LSU
  • vs. Oklahoma
  • at Arkansas
  • vs. Georgia
  • at Florida
  • vs. Mississippi State

In all likelihood, Ole Miss will need to go 10-2 to make the playoff. It’s possible, given the additions to the SEC and Big Ten, as well as general college football insanity, more teams than usual will lose games, and we see a 9-3 team or two get in. However, for the purposes of our discussion today, we’re saying 10-2 is the price of admission.

Ole Miss will probably be favored against every team but Georgia. Based on what we saw last November, even with Ole Miss’ talent upgrades, the talent gap will still be there.

Assuming Ole Miss loses that game and wins all their home games, plus at Wake Forest, they need to go at least 3-1 in these places:

  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Gainesville, Florida

Ole Miss’ record in these places:

  • Columbia: 4-4*
  • Baton Rouge: 23-43-1** (last win in 2008)
  • Fayetteville: 2-13 (last win in 2008)
  • Gainesville: 6-4-1

*The last of which was the traumatic 16-10 loss in 2009 on Thursday night. 0 out of 5 stars.

**4-12 since the SEC expanded in 1992

If you’re scoring at home, that’s a combined 33-64-2. Not great!

The 3-1 scenario means they have to slay either the Baton Rouge or Fayetteville boogeyman or both. I, for one, am already pre-hating those Saturday’s unpleasantness.

Of course, if Ole Miss were to lose to a home game to Kentucky or Oklahoma (plus Georgia), then they have to sweep those four road games. While Ole Miss is better than all four of those teams, they would have to go 4-0 in places where they are 33-64-2.

In case you’ve been asleep since John Vaught was coaching, Ole Miss is not a traditional wrecker of trends. On the other hand, Lane Kiffin is the opposite* of almost every Ole Miss coach in program history.

*We literally stumbled into the George Costanza opposite theory. If every decision we’re making is wrong, then the opposite must be right. He’s a professional who wants to win and not back-slap and shoot the shit.

Any team needs luck to have a special season. If Ole Miss gets enough of it, they should find their way into the playoff without a 12-0 or 11-1 season. Of course, the easiest way into the playoff is JUST WIN THEM ALL, BABY.