Ole Miss finished just a game behind Alabama in the SEC West Division standings a season ago after winning its last three conference games by 10, 14, and 10 points. The Rebels were rather active in the transfer market, bringing in the second-ranked class of incoming transfers in the country according to the 247sports.com database.
Former USC quarterback Jaxson Dart and former TCU running back Zach Evans are among the newcomers expected to make an impact. Dart ranks in the top 15 in the current Heisman Trophy odds.
Although Ole Miss lost four more transfers than the Rebels brought in, the top-four rated transfers are the ones coming into the program so it could be a case of quality winning out over quantity.
Ole Miss (+5000) is tied for fifth in the odds to win the SEC championship. Those odds have fallen from +3300 since early June according to the college football odds. The Rebels trail only Alabama and Texas A&M in the odds to win the SEC West Division title.
Ole Miss (+6600) is tied for 12th in the NCAA football odds to win the national championship according to the sportsbook.
Ole Miss Rebels
- 2021 record: 10-3
- 2021 conference record: 6-2
- Head coach: Lane Kiffin
- Odds to win conference title: +5000
With quarterback Matt Corral now in the NFL, the offense will be turned over to USC transfer Jaxson Dart. It is hard to know exactly what to expect from Dart. He threw for 391 yards and four touchdowns in his first game as a freshman at USC. He did have five interceptions in his six games so that is something to keep an eye on.
Ole Miss loses top receiver Donatio Drummond, who had 76 catches for 1,028 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior. Braylon Sanders and Jahcour Pearson are also gone after combining for 50 catches and 940 yards a season ago.
Jonathan Mingo and Dannis Jackson opted to return so this will be the fourth season for both of them in the offensive rotation. Mingo had 346 yards in six games while Jackson averaged 20.3 yards on his 12 receptions in 2021. Tight end Casey Kelly (17 catches, 150 yards) is also coming back.
Tight end Michael Trigg comes in from USC. His five catches for 95 yards in back-to-back games against Oregon State and Colorado displayed some of his pass-catching potential. The Rebels added receivers Jaylon Robinson (UCF), Jordan Watkins (Louisville), Malik Heath (Mississippi State), and Jacobi Moore (Mississippi State) and they could contribute immediately. Watkins had 35 catches for 544 yards a season ago while Heath had two touchdown catches in a 2020 game against Ole Miss.
The top rushers (Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner) have moved on but the Rebels should be fine with the addition of transfers Zach Evans from Texas Christian and Ulysses Bentley from SMU. Kentrel Bullock is the returning running back with the most yards in 2021, although 52 of his 78 rushing yards came against Austin Peay.
Ole Miss brings back starting offensive linemen Eli Acker, Nick Broeker, Jeremy James, and Caleb Warren. Western Kentucky transfer Mason Brooks could push for a starting spot.
Ole Miss finished eighth in the SEC in scoring defense and 11th in total defense a season ago so that is an area that needs some work.
Defensive backs Otis Reese (91 tackles), E.J. Finley (90 tackles), and Tysheem Johnson are the top returning players on defense.
Ole Miss does lose Chance Campbell and Mark Robinson, who combined for 201 tackles. Sam Williams, who led the team with 16 tackles for loss and 12½ sacks, is also gone. Nine of the top 12 tacklers a season ago were seniors so there are some holes to fill.
Former Auburn safety Ladarius Tennison, linebacker Troy Brown from Central Michigan, defensive end Jared Ivey from Georgia Tech, defensive tackle J.J. Pegues from Auburn, defensive end Khari Coleman from TCU, and safety Dashaun Jerkins from Vanderbilt figure to be in the defensive rotation for Ole Miss.
Brown was the most productive of the incoming defensive transfers with 66 tackles and seven tackles for loss in 2021. Ivey had six tackles for loss a season ago while Jerkins recorded 42 tackles and three interceptions, with all of those picks coming in SEC play.
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) August 10, 2022
Kicker Caden Costa (14 for 17 on field goals as a freshman) is back but punter Mac Brown is gone. Ealy was the top kickoff returner and Drummond did most of the punt returner, so new candidates will need to emerge at those positions.
Linebacker Mohamed Sanogo, receiver Jordan Jernigan, running back Henry Parrish, and quarterback John Rhys Plumlee are among the key players to transfer elsewhere.
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Ole Miss Outlook
The non-conference games aren’t exactly loaded with Top 25 foes and it remains to be seen if games against Troy, Central Arkansas, Georgia Tech, and Tulsa will prepare the Rebels for the challenging SEC schedule. Ole Miss is currently a 23-point favorite in the season opener against Troy.
The three-game set at Louisiana State, at Texas A&M, and at home against Alabama will ultimately determine how successful this season is for the Rebels. A bye week before meeting Alabama should be a huge help.
Quarterback Dart is tied for 13th in the Heisman Trophy odds even though he hasn’t thrown a pass at Ole Miss yet.
The expected regular-season win total of 7½ according to the college football lines seems a bit on the low side. The odds are at -145 for the Rebels to top that mark.
Something for those who bet online: Each of the last eight Ole Miss games during the 2021 season finished under the total. Ole Miss was 2-2 straight up and against the spread when listed as an underdog a season ago. The Rebels went 8-0 as a favorite in 2021.
2022 Ole Miss Schedule
- Sept. 3 vs Troy
- Sept. 10 vs Central Arkansas
- Sept. 17 at Georgia Tech
- Sept. 24 vs Tulsa
- Oct. 1 vs Kentucky
- Oct. 8 at Vanderbilt
- Oct. 15 vs Auburn
- Oct. 22 at Louisiana State
- Oct. 29 at Texas A&M
- Nov. 12 vs Alabama
- Nov. 19 at Arkansas
- Nov. 24 vs Mississippi State