Schedule analysis: Ole Miss


Some fun road trips are in store for the Rebels in 2013.

Nonconference opponents (with 2012 records)

Sept. 7: SE Missouri St (3-8)

Sept. 14: at Texas (9-4)

Oct. 26: Idaho (1-11)

Nov. 16: Troy (5-7)

SEC home games

Oct. 12: Texas A&M

Oct. 19: LSU

Nov. 9: Arkansas

Nov. 23: Missouri

SEC road games

Aug. 29: at Vanderbilt

Sept. 28: at Alabama

Oct. 5: at Auburn

Nov. 28: at Mississippi State

Gut-check time: It's right off the bat for the Rebels. Ole Miss has lost three straight to Vanderbilt and if the Rebels want to make an immediate statement this fall, they'll need to finally end their losing streak to the Commodores. Ole Miss let a 17-point, second-half lead slip away in their 27-26 lost to Vandy last year, which was one of a few second-half collapses for the Rebels. With depth issues and a tough conference schedule as it is, a win in Week 1 will go a long way in terms of a bowl berth.

Trap game: Outside of that trip to Austin, Texas, early in the season, there isn't a lot of meat to Ole Miss' nonconference schedule. But the Rebels do have to be careful when Troy comes to town in mid-November. That game is sandwiched between two SEC games, and the Rebels can't get caught looking ahead to Missouri the following week. The good news for Ole Miss is that Troy only returns seven total starters, but the Trojans always seems to play SEC teams tough with that spread offense.

Snoozer: A week after facing Vandy, the Rebels head home to take on Southeast Missouri State. The FCS opponent should provide the Rebels with a nice breather after what should be a very physical game with the Commodores in Week 1. Last season, the Redhawks ranked 71st in the FCS in total offense and 104th in total defense.

Telltale stretch: Right out of the gate, the Rebels have quite the challenge on their hands. Three weeks into the season, Ole Miss goes on the road to face Texas, Alabama and Auburn before back-to-back home games against Texas A&M and LSU. Last year, the Rebels went just 1-4 against those teams. Coming out of this stretch with a couple of wins would be huge for the Rebels, as they look to make consecutive bowl trips for the first time since doing it in 2008 and 2009.

Finale analysis: The first two months of the season are brutal. A win over Vandy is very important to Ole Miss' postseason possibilities because dropping that game means the Rebels could possibly have a losing record heading into November. Coach Hugh Freeze isn't happy about having to play at Alabama for the second straight year, but he's pleased that the Aggies have to play in Oxford again. The Rebels are seeking some sort of redemption after rough second halves against Vandy, A&M and LSU cost them wins last year. That motivation should fuel this team in 2013, but as Freeze has said, with the daunting schedule the Rebels has to avoid the injury bug again. Ole Miss was very fortunate not to suffer any major injuries last season with its depth issues. The Rebels face similar obstacles when it comes to depth this year, so if they want to successfully navigate through this schedule, they'll have to stay as healthy as possible once again.