Coming off a 2-10 record, Ole Miss entered 2012 with low expectations. Despite beginning the season with question marks on both sides of the ball and a new coach in Hugh Freeze, the Rebels were one of the SEC’s biggest surprises, recording a 7-6 overall record, which led to one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.
The SEC West is one of the most challenging divisions in college football, so it won’t be easy for Ole Miss to take another step forward in 2013. The talent level is on the rise in Oxford, so the future looks bright for Freeze, especially as he looks to turn the Rebels into a consistent top-25 team.
With 15 starters back, Ole Miss is positioned to make another run at a winning record in 2013. However, the schedule isn’t easy, and the Rebels hope quarterback Bo Wallace is 100 percent after offseason shoulder surgery.
What will Ole Miss' record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
Ole Miss' 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
8/29 at Vanderbilt
9/14 at Texas
9/28 at Alabama
10/5 at Auburn
10/12 Texas A&M
11/28 at Mississippi State
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
There’s no question Ole Miss is on the right track under the direction of second-year coach Hugh Freeze. However, considering how challenging the schedule is, it’s possible the Rebels are a better team in 2013 than they were in 2012, but it may not show in the win column. The Rebels have road games at Vanderbilt, Texas, Alabama and Auburn, along with a season finale at Mississippi State. In addition to the schedule, quarterback Bo Wallace is coming off shoulder surgery, which did not go well for Missouri and James Franklin last year. Assuming Wallace can return to full strength, the Rebels offense will once again average over 30 points a game in 2013. With the addition of a top-notch recruiting class, Ole Miss should have more depth in the program, which is crucial to challenging the top three in the SEC West. Expect more improvement from the Rebels, but a tough schedule will prevent this program from surpassing last year’s win total.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Hugh Freeze has this program trending in the right direction after taking an 0-8 team and winning three SEC games last year. The long-term trajectory of the Rebels has to have fans excited about the future. However, one historic recruiting class doesn't close the gap between teams competing for national titles and one that couldn't even win a game two years ago. Depth is still a major concern if this team is expecting to compete with the big boys. I believe Ole Miss is good enough to pull an upset or two — and am calling for a win over LSU — but it also faces one of the toughest schedules in the league. Expect a similar year to last fall with expectations growing for the 2014 squad.
SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)
2011: 2-10, fired Houston Nutt
2012: 7-6, Egg Bowl win and a bowl victory
2013: Top 10 recruiting class
Is it crazy to think this team can go 9-3? Yes, yes it is. Last year they averaged 424 YPG and 31.5 PPG. It’s no doubt they can score, and a key to this year’s success will be returning starter Bo Wallace, one of the most underrated QBs in the SEC. Yes, Bo’s 17 INTs from last year scare me too. With all that fresh talent coming to Oxford, how does it translate to playing time on defense? I worry about growing pains. Name to remember: Denzel Nkemdiche, LB
Ole Miss has a chance to make a huge opening statement by beating Vanderbilt on the road, which would greatly increase the Rebels' chances of surviving their early-season slate. Besides the Commodores, the Rebels also have to play Texas and Alabama on the road before the calendar turns to October. Hugh Freeze's team must find a way to not only build some momentum, but also stay healthy, through this stretch or it else it could be a long season in Oxford.
That said, with at least seven starters returning on both sides of the ball and a highly regarded recruiting class coming in, I think these Rebels right the ship starting in October and finish fairly strong. The key games are back-to-back home games with Texas A&M and LSU and of course the season-ending Egg Bowl at Mississippi State. Find a way to win at least two of these matchups and Ole Miss could be one of the SEC's biggest surprises in 2013.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
There are three critical games on Ole Miss’ schedule, and all are on the road: Vanderbilt, Auburn and Mississippi State. Vanderbilt is a coin-flip game that’s going to be a key momentum game for both teams (Ole Miss lost by 1 last season). Mississippi State is the obvious rivalry game and one the Rebels haven’t won in back-to-back seasons since 2002-04. And then Auburn is a swing game that will be a key gut-check, especially if Ole Miss loses to Texas and Alabama. The Rebels on paper are the better team, beating the Tigers 41-20 last season. But stuck in between Alabama and Texas A&M, that game could be a major problem. Despite all the optimism surrounding last season and the signing class, Ole Miss could start 1-6. I don’t think the Rebels will do that, but the schedule isn’t really conducive to a hot start.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
I see an up-and-down season coming for Ole Miss. The Rebels will be tested right out of the gate when they open on the road against Vanderbilt. Both teams are trying to capitalize on last year’s momentum. Ole Miss will begin a brutal five-game stretch on Sept. 14, starting with Texas on the road. I have Ole Miss winning two of those five games (at Auburn, LSU), which should make fans happy considering the level of competition. Ole Miss will have a chance for a strong finish. Like last year, the outcome of the Egg Bowl will greatly affect how the Rebels’ season is judged. That’s actually the case every year.
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