Sep. 13—There's a game ahead for Ole Miss, presumed a loss by many, that with the right twists could propel the Rebels to one of those storybook seasons.
The game isn't Tulane, it's Alabama.
It looked easy at a time to say "Ole Miss will be 3-0 going to Tuscaloosa if they beat Louisville."
Well they did beat Louisville, but what gave the outcome a little more shine is how dominant the Rebels were that night in Atlanta.
Poll voters noticed. The Rebels jumped from unranked in the AP Top 25 to No. 20. They dismantled an FCS opponent in Week 2, and now they're No. 17.
Alabama is still three weeks out. It's not unreasonable to think that could be a No. 1 vs. No. 13 or No. 12 matchup in Tuscaloosa (with Alabama being the No. 1) provided the Rebels not only win this week against Tulane but look good in the process.
Oklahoma beat Tulane in Week 1 but didn't look good doing it.
Maybe that 40-35 Sooners victory isn't a telling statement for the rest of their season, but it's a big point of reference for Tulane in its preparation for Ole Miss.
Three times OU gave the ball to Tulane near midfield, twice with interceptions and once on downs. Each time the Green Wave converted those short fields into touchdowns.
"They're an SEC team," Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said Monday.
Well, they were at one point, but you get the picture.
Tulane played like an SEC team in Norman. They had almost 400 yards of offense, and they punished Oklahoma for mistakes.
Ole Miss hasn't made a ton of mistakes in two games but has made enough of them create discussion in position rooms and on the practice field.
Linebacker Chance Campbell says consistency is the next step for the Rebels' defense.
"We see what it looks like when we play well, when we play with great effort and great technique. It's just making sure that's an every down thing."
While the Rebels have protected the ball well on offense, they're one of the most penalized teams in the country drawing 26 flags in two games.
This version of Tulane is good to have on the schedule, a Group of Five team that can challenge you and make you better for the conference season.
That season begins for Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa.
It wasn't that long ago — if you've been adulting for a while — that Ole Miss won in Tuscaloosa.
No players on the current roster will have a point of reference for that grand spot on the timeline of Ole Miss football, but Lane Kiffin will.
He saw Ole Miss beat Alabama in back-to-back seasons in 2014-15 as the Crimson Tide offensive coordinator under Nick Saban.
Now Kiffin has an improved defense to go along with one of the nation's top quarterbacks and most players that amassed 48 points and 647 yards against Alabama last season.
In short, with a little more consistency it's a team that could make Kiffin the first former Saban assistant to beat the master after Kiffin himself and others have failed 23 previous times.
It's a big one coming up Oct. 2, and the Rebels are open the week before on Sept. 25.
It will be as big as it can be if the Rebels are clean, efficient and victorious this Saturday.
PARRISH ALFORD is the college sports editor and columnist for the Daily Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.