Aug. 6—OXFORD — Part Two in the Daily Journal's schedule breakdown is an in-depth look at Ole Miss' SEC slate in 2022.
Oct. 1 vs. Kentucky
The Rebels and Wildcats played a thriller in 2020, a 42-41 Ole Miss win in overtime in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky went 10-3 last season and were picked to finish second behind defending national champion Georgia in the SEC East in the media's preseason poll.
The Wildcats return dynamic quarterback Will Levis, a preseason third-team All-SEC pick and star running back Chris Rodriguez Jr., a preseason second-team All-SEC choice. Levis threw for 2,826 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2021 and added nine rushing touchdowns. Rodriguez rushed for 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Kentucky will replace two coordinators, as Sumrall is at Troy and former offensive coordinator Liam Coen took the same job with the Los Angeles Rams. Rich Scangarello will run the offense while Brad White — the other co-defensive coordinator last year — will call the defense.
Oct. 8 at Vanderbilt
The Commodores were picked to finish last in the SEC East — they did curiously received a first-place vote, however, which feels more like an accident than anything — but Vanderbilt hung tough with Ole Miss last season in a 31-17 Rebels win.
Vanderbilt went 2-10 in Clark Lea's first season and the numbers, were as bad as expected: just under 16 points per game scored, nearly 36 points per game surrendered. Mike Wright will start at quarterback, and he had a solid showing against the Rebels a season ago, totaling 302 yards of offense.
Oct. 15 vs. Auburn
This is the start of the Rebels' gauntlet end of the season. Auburn took down Ole Miss last season at Jordan-Hare, a game where quarterback Matt Corral was carted off the field with an ankle injury before eventually returning to action. The Tigers still have head coach Bryan Harsin despite a strange offseason, but quarterback Bo Nix (three total touchdowns vs. Ole Miss in 2021) is at Oregon now after three years on the Plains.
Running back Tank Bigsby returns, however, after running for just under 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore. Bigsby ran for 140 yards and a touchdown in Auburn's 31-20 win last season. The Tigers started last season 6-2 but lost their final five games. Former Texas A&M quarterback appears to be the most likely candidate to take over for Nix.
The Tigers were picked to finish last in the SEC West.
Oct. 22 at LSU
LSU lost in Oxford last season 31-17 with head coach Ed Orgeron already a lame duck. The Rebels led 31-7 after three quarters and ran for 302 yards in the game.
The Tigers are now led by former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, but expectations in Year One are realistic — they were picked fifth in the SEC West, one spot behind Ole Miss. Kelly went 113-40 with the Fighting Irish and took them to the CFP twice and to a BCS National Championship game.
Last year's starting quarterback Max Johnson is now at Texas A&M, but Myles Brennan and Garrett Nussmeier return. The Tigers also added Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels. LSU also gets wide receiver Kayshon Boutte back after missing the last seven games of the season. Boutte is a preseason first-team All-SEC pick. Pass rusher B.J. Ojulari led LSU with seven sacks last season and is a preseason first-team All-SEC pick
Oct. 29 at Texas A&M
Ole Miss took down the No. 11 Aggies 29-19 last season in what was arguably the biggest win of 2021, given Texas A&M's lofty ranking and the fact College GameDay was in town. The Aggies scuffled a bit down the stretch last season, losing two of their last three before having their bowl game canceled.
The Aggies brought in one of the most heralded recruiting classes of all-time and were picked to finish second in the SEC West but are widely considered a top-10 preseason team. Johnson or Haynes King will likely be the quarterback, and star running back Devon Achane returns after running for 910 yards (seven yards per carry) and nine touchdowns. Achane is a preseason second-team all-conference pick.
Nov. 12 vs. Alabama
Alabama is the preseason No. 1 by nearly every publication, and for good reason — the Crimson Tide return two of the best players in the country in Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young and pass rusher Will Anderson. Alabama defeated Georgia in the 2021 SEC Championship game but fell in the CFB title game rematch to the Bulldogs.
The Crimson Tide dominated Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa, Alabama last year, taking a 28-0 lead into halftime after a few fourth-down conversion tries didn't go the Rebels' way. Ole Miss last defeated Alabama in 2015, the second of consecutive wins for the program over the Crimson Tide.
Alabama's top rusher and top two receivers from last season are gone, but that generally doesn't tend to stop the Crimson Tide from putting up points.
Nov. 19 at Arkansas
The Rebels and Razorbacks played a game for the ages in 2021, a wild 52-51 Ole Miss win that came down to a failed two-point conversion try by Arkansas with no time left on the clock. The teams combined to score 41 points in the fourth quarter.
Arkansas put up 676 yards of offense, including 411 yards of offense and six total touchdowns from quarterback K.J. Jefferson, who returns. Star receiver Treylon Burks is in the NFL now; he had 136 yards receiving and a touchdown last year in Oxford.
In addition to Jefferson, the Razorbacks also return star defensive back Jalen Catalon and linebacker Bumper Pool, who were preseason first-team and second-team All-SEC picks, respectively.
Nov. 24 vs. Mississippi State
The Egg Bowl never disappoints.
The Rebels took down the Bulldogs 31-21 in Starkville last season, Ole Miss' second-straight win in the rivalry. Mississippi State returns quarterback Will Rogers, who threw for 4,739 yards and 36 touchdowns a season ago. Leading receiver Makai Polk (1,046 yards, nine touchdowns) is gone, as is cornerback Martin Emerson — a third-round pick by the Cleveland Browns.
Mississippi State was picked to finish second-to-last in the SEC West, just ahead of Auburn. This year's game is in Oxford, where the Rebels won 31-24 in 2020. Ole Miss leads the all-time series 64-46-6 (including forfeits and vacated games). The Rebels are 22-13-3 against the Bulldogs in Oxford.
MICHAEL KATZ is the Ole Miss athletics reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact him at email@example.com.