Lane Kiffin has done a masterful job with Ole Miss football. He took over a few years ago and turned a struggling program into one of the SEC’s best.
The Rebels went just 5-5 in his first year but have gone 18-8 since and it feels like that’s only going to improve as Kiffin recruits at a higher level and continues to have a steady hand in the transfer portal.
Fresh off an 8-5 season, Ole Miss is looking to take that next step and contend for a College Football Playoff. It’s possible with Jaxson Dart coming back at quarterback, joined by Oklahoma State transfer Spencer Sanders and LSU transfer Walker Howard. The quarterback room is as good as it’s been in years and that should make a huge difference between a special season and an average one.
The defense also stepped up last season and finished in the middle of the pack nationally in points allowed and surrendered less than 400 yards per game.
So what are the expectations for 2023 with an improving defense and quarterback room?
Realistic expectations for Ole Miss football in 2023
I have high hopes for Dart under center next season and I think he’ll take that next step after passing for 2,974 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first season under Kiffin. He’ll be pushed by Sanders and Howard to be better and that’ll only benefit this team.
Getting Quinshon Judkins back is also huge after he exploded onto the scene with over 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns last year.
Plus, if this defense continues to improve at a rapid rate, I think the Rebels will be one of those teams that no one in the SEC will want to face.
Looking at the schedule, I see the Rebels starting the year 3-0 before a huge road test against Alabama to kick off SEC play on Sept. 16. They’ll lose that game in Tuscaloosa before coming back home to beat LSU and Arkansas in back-to-back games to regain a ton of momentum. After a bye, they’ll go to Auburn, pick up a big win, and then beat Vanderbilt and Texas A&M at home before losing at Georgia. They’ll beat ULM in a warmup non-conference game and I could see them exacting revenge for last year’s Egg Bowl loss in the finale.
Realistically, Ole Miss could finish 9-3 but I could also see an 8-4 season with a loss against Texas A&M, at Auburn, or at Mississippi State.
The worst-case scenario record would be 6-6 with the best-case scenario being 10-2. Realistically, expecting an 8-4 or 9-3 season seems about right for the Rebels.