Unusual 2020 schedule gives Rebels tough sledding early in the season

Posted on Aug 8 2019 - 12:48pm by John Macon Gillespie

Ole Miss football released its 2020 schedule on Wednesday with some notable changes to the normal Rebel football scheduling.

At a glance, the Ole Miss schedule in 2020 will look like this:
Sept. 5 vs. Baylor (Houston)
Sept. 12 vs. Southeast Missouri
Sept. 19 vs. Auburn
Sept. 26 at LSU
Oct. 3 vs. Alabama
Oct. 10 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 17 vs. Florida
Oct. 24 vs. Middle Tennessee
Nov. 7 at Texas A&M
Nov. 14 at Arkansas
Nov. 21 vs. Georgia Southern
Nov. 26 vs. Mississippi State

The most notable changes in the Rebels’ usual schedule are the early meetings with Auburn and LSU. The Magnolia Bowl is typically scheduled around Halloween or the week prior to the Egg Bowl, but the Rebels will have to travel to Baton Rouge in week four to take on the Bayou Bengals next season.

Strangely enough, Ole Miss is off on Halloween, which falls on a Saturday in 2020, seemingly a perfect time to play LSU based on tradition. Having to face Auburn in week three is no easy task either, and Ole Miss hasn’t faced Auburn this early since September 9 in 2000 and September 8 in 2001, both games won by the Tigers.

This strange bit of scheduling is in the midst of a three-game SEC West stretch that could strongly impact Ole Miss’s season. Having to face Auburn, LSU and Alabama in consecutive weeks could take a toll on the health of the Rebels’ roster as they head into the SEC East portion of their schedule. Ole Miss hasn’t beaten any of these SEC West foes since defeating them all in
2015 en route to the Sugar Bowl.

Speaking of the SEC East, the Rebels draw their two cross-division opponents in back-to-back weeks as well, a quirk not seen in an Ole Miss football schedule since 2015 when the Rebels hosted Vanderbilt and traveled to Florida, the exact inverse of 2020’s situation. Ole Miss will
host Florida for the first time since 2007, a game which the Gators won 30-24.

Despite Florida’s success on the gridiron this millennium, including national titles in 2006 and 2008, Ole Miss leads the all-time series with the Gators 12-11.

After hosting Middle Tennessee and having an open date to close out October, the Rebels have back-to-back road SEC West tests against Texas A&M and Arkansas. These games to open November will be Ole Miss’ first SEC West competition since Oct. 3 against Alabama, a span of four weeks in the middle of the season.

The Rebels then play host to Georgia Southern heading into Thanksgiving break. The last time the Rebels played host to the Eagles was 2016, and quarterback Chad Kelly tore his ACL in the game which effectively ended his career as a Rebel. A mere five days later on Thanksgiving
Day, Ole Miss hosts Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl.

Not to be ignored in the strangeness of how the conference schedule fell is its non-conference slate. Ole Miss, like in 2018, will open its season in NRG Stadium in Houston in the Advocare Texas Kickoff, this time against another opponent from the state of Texas in Baylor.

The Rebels and Bears have only met one time, a win by Baylor in 1975. The Rebels also host Southeast Missouri for the first time since 2013 as their FCS opponent.