With the arrival of the 2023 season, there comes an optimistic feeling in the air that this could be the year. This is just the same for Ole Miss who is still searching for its first appearance in Atlanta for an SEC Championship Game. The Rebels return multiple starters across their offensive and defensive units and are hopeful that the next step will be a ticket to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
However, with road trips to Tulane, Alabama, and Georgia that make up one of college football’s toughest schedules, Ole Miss will look to defy all the odds in hopes of contending for an SEC title. With that being said, here are game-by-game predictions for the Rebels’ season just days away from opening kick.
Week 1: Mercer
Let’s not take long here. Mercer is no joke at the FCS as a top-20 team, but they have nowhere near enough firepower to knock off the Rebs at home. My (semi) bold prediction? I think all three Rebel quarterbacks take snaps between Jaxson Dart, Spencer Sanders, and Walker Howard. Rebs win big. Ole Miss 52, Mercer 17.
Week 2: @ Tulane
What a way to shift gears in the span of a single mile. The Rebels and their band of returners and newcomers will need to quickly come together as they head to New Orleans to take on a top-25 Tulane team that is coming off a Cotton Bowl victory last year over USC. Obviously, Tulane is no slouch, and they return Michael Pratt, who has thrown for over 6,000 yards and 68 touchdowns over three seasons. Pratt will go down as one of the best, if not the best, signal-callers in Green Wave history. So, the Rebels will need to be on their A-game. The difference? A loss of top weapon Tyjae Spears and an improved Rebel defense will leave Tulane not able to run the ball well enough to knock off Ole Miss as they survive on the road. Ole Miss 31, Tulane 23.
Week 3: Georgia Tech
Haynes King transfers in from Texas A&M to help bring a dynamic talent under center that the Yellow Jackets have lacked since Justin Thomas in 2014. While King has the potential to do so, I think three weeks into the season on the road is just a bit too soon to ask him to knock off a top-25 Ole Miss team. A year later in Atlanta? Maybe. This year? I think Dart has one of the best games of his career and former Yellow Jacket Jared Ivey shows out to help the Rebs pull away in the second half. Ole Miss 38, Georgia Tech 13.
Week 4: @ Alabama
The game that every SEC West fan circles on their calendar still lies on the date the Crimson Tide lines up on the other side. Even after their second-place finish last season, Nick Saban and Alabama still represent a road block for any team wanting to separate themselves from good to elite. In this one, I’d look at the run game for Alabama as a barometer of how this one plays out. Whether it’s Jalen Milroe, Ty Simson, or Tyler Buchner, I expect Saban and new OC from Notre Dame Tommy Rees to ease the signal-caller in with heavy doses of run to set up some easy play-action looks. As much as I think Ole Miss can compete with the Crimson Tide talent-wise this year, I just can’t pick against Saban and company on the road. I think it’s a second straight heartbreaker for the Rebs against Alabama. Alabama 26, Ole Miss 20.
Week 5: LSU
This, to me, is a season-defining game for the Rebs. Not for if they will play in the postseason or not, but it is something much bigger. After a tough loss, can they come back and play with a purpose against what will be one of their toughest tests of the season? Jayden Daniels gave Ole Miss plenty of trouble with his legs last year, and I’m sure Brian Kelly will look for a repeat of that this year. My key matchup? Micah Pettus and Jayden Williams against Harold Perkins Jr. Whichever side he rushes from, the tackles will have to limit the impact of my pick for SEC Defensive Player of the Year in order for the offense to be successful. It will be tough, but I think home-field advantage, an improved run defense, and a big game from Dart will be enough for Kiffin and the Rebels to get their biggest win of his tenure. Ole Miss 24, LSU 23
Week 6: Arkansas
Man, what a brutal stretch for Ole Miss. After getting the Tide on the road and coming off a predicted massive win over the Tigers at home, the Rebels have to play host to Arkansas in what has become over the past 10 seasons one of the weirdest annual matchups in the country. From blowouts to some of college football’s most memorable moments to even ESPN’s top-ranked game of the 2021 season, this matchup is always a wild one. The key? I think the Ole Miss secondary will be improved, and I do not trust the Razorbacks’ receiving core until they prove they can test a defense vertically, which they could not do last year. Jefferson’s legs do damage, but the Rebels win a high-scoring affair. Ole Miss 38, Arkansas 34.
Week 7: Bye
A much-needed and well-deserved bye week comes at the right time after such a brutal stretch. Get some rest, Rebs. You deserve it.
Week 8: @ Auburn
Oh, boy. This is one of the most frightening games on the schedule. Sure, Ole Miss comes off a bye. However, this is the dreaded Hugh Freeze SEC revenge game and it comes at the most dark magic place in the SEC at Auburn. This will also almost assuredly be a night game with the storyline and drama behind it, and the Tigers will be ready. They were able to give the Rebs quite a scare last season with some big runs and quick scoring, but Tank Bigsby is gone (thank goodness.) This will be a team that is still learning the Hugh Freeze offense, and Payton Thorne is not, in my eyes, a difference-maker. So, I think Judkins is able to lead a slow night for the Rebs offensively to just enough to escape with a win. Ole Miss 20, Auburn 13.
Week 9: Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt looks like a more improved team in offensive scheme after their week one victory over Hawaii. With some speed on the field, motion in the offense, and one of the SEC’s most underrated receivers in Will Sheppard, this is a team that I think is capable of catching some off guard this year. However, that defense looked bad at times against the Rainbow Warriors, and this season’s game is in Oxford. So, look for Ayden Williams to maybe have a breakout game here against a struggling Commodore secondary to give the Rebs a win pulling away late. Ole Miss 41, Vanderbilt 20.
Week 10: Texas A&M
Man, I hate the Aggies just as much as the next guy, but I hate this matchup for the Rebs. After having a semi-coasting win against Vandy, looking ahead to a big-time matchup against Georgia the next week, and also having beat the Aggies in back-to-back seasons, this game feels like a prime spot for a letdown. Connor Weigman is a fantastic quarterback, and I expect him to be even better than he was a year ago when he almost led A&M to an upset win over the Rebels. Ole Miss shows up late, but I think a slow start early against an uber-talented Aggie defense proves to be too much. Texas A&M 31, Ole Miss 27.
Week 11: @ Georgia
Man, how massive would this be for Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss if they could somehow find a way to be the best team in the country for sixty minutes. It would be especially nice for me seeing as I’m getting married that day. However, I think there is a chance this Bulldog offense is more dynamic this year with Carson Beck under center. At this point, he will be well settled in and while Ole Miss will find ways to score, this will be one of the few games this season where the offensive line will be outmatched. The Rebels will put up a good fight on the road, but no wedding present for me. Georgia 34, Ole Miss 23.
Week 12: Louisiana-Monroe
After back-to-back losses for the first time in 2023, this is exactly what the Rebels need. The most interesting thing in this contest should be if Louisiana breaks out their camo and Ole MIss breaks out the RealTree helmets for an all-camo matchup. If so, the camo won’t do the Warhawks any good. Look for Judkins to explode and the Rebel defense to bow up with a big performance heading into the next week’s rivalry matchup. Ole Miss 45, Louisiana Monroe 14.
Week 13: @ Mississippi State
This Battle for the Golden Egg could end up being one of the more intriguing we have seen in some time. While many are expecting MSU to take a step back in Arnett’s first season, I think State has way too much talent for it to be too much, if any, of a backwards step. If the Dawgs can find their offensive identity early, this could be a top-25 matchup because we know what their defense is capable of. I think this is a back-and-forth affair, but it feels only poetic that after a failed two-point conversion decided last year’s game that Dart and company get one this year to give the Rebs the win. Ole Miss 24, MSU 23.
Final Record: 9-3 (5-3 SEC)