Ole Miss Football: Ranking 2020 opponents by toughness

John Rhys Plumlee, Ole Miss football (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
John Rhys Plumlee, Ole Miss football (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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The Lane Kiffin era of Ole Miss football begins in 2020. Here’s how the teams on his inaugural schedule stack up.

In the debut season of Lane Kiffin in Oxford, the Rebels will be thrown into the fire immediately. In the first five weeks of the season, they’ll meet Baylor, Auburn, LSU and Alabama. With an offseason disrupted by COVID-19, the transition couldn’t start in tougher fashion.

Fortunately for Kiffin, he has experience at key spots. There’s a choice of quarterbacks who’ve seen significant SEC action, with Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee in the room. In front of them will be senior center Eli Johnson, and the Rebels bring back the entire right side of the line.

Tasked with rebuilding a porous defense are Chris Partridge and the controversial DJ Durkin. The Rebels gave up 416.8 yards per game in 2019, just 12th in the SEC. The pass defense was especially weak, finishing last in the conference and 120th in the nation.

The most important aspect of 2020 for Ole Miss will be not panicking with the tough start. In the second half of the year, with games against UConn, Georgia Southern and Arkansas, as well as the always-close Egg Bowl, there’s a good chance of a strong finish in Oxford.

This won’t be one-and-done for Kiffin, and as he builds this team around one of the sophomore quarterbacks, the future is exciting at Ole Miss.