It seems like as time goes by, things are becoming less clear concerning the upcoming college football season. I don’t have any answers, but all I know to do is operate on the assumption that football will be played.
Auburn could play a full schedule or could possibly just play a conference schedule. The Tigers could start on time or they could be delayed several weeks. I’m going to begin my annual look at the Tigers’ upcoming schedule with the first four games like I have for every other season. If things change, I will adjust accordingly.
Alcorn State (Sept. 5) – The Braves are a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference in the Football Championship Subdivision. They went 9-4 last season falling to North Carolina A&T 64-44 in the Celebration Bowl. Alcorn State is a very good FCS school, but it would be the biggest upset in the history of college football if they won this game.
North Carolina in Atlanta (Sept. 12) – Mack Brown came out of retirement in 2019 and took over in Chapel Hill where he made a name for himself in the 1990s. He was hired by the Tar Heels in 1988 and began his career there with back-to-back 1-10 seasons. He slowly and steadily built the program into a consistent winner and before leaving for Texas, he went 10-2 and 10-1 in his final two seasons.
Obviously, Mack has learned a few tricks over the years because he inherited a 2-9 team this go around and immediately went 7-6. They also came within a two-point conversion of beating Clemson. Quarterback Sam Howell had a tremendous freshman year throwing for 3,641 yards and 38 touchdowns and Brown has done some serious recruiting. This is a very important game for both programs and should be very entertaining, if it actually happens of course.
At Ole Miss (Sept. 19) – The Rebel Black Bear Land Shark’s went 4-8 in 2019. They lost some close games and won some close games. Matt Luke was put in an impossible position as interim head coach in 2017 after the firing of Hugh Freeze. Unfortunately, that actually turned out to be his best year.
The administration in Oxford wanted to make a splash hire so they went out and got Lane Kiffin from Florida Atlantic. I’d say that’s worthy of a cannonball off the medium-high diving board. For all of his faults, and there are many, Kiffin has proven to be a very capable offensive coordinator.
Ole Miss has struggled to find an identity in recent years. They had tremendous receivers and threw the ball all over the yard very successfully for a time. Last year the team ran the ball very well mainly due to the emergence of freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. However, the one common denominator over the last several years has been the atrocious defense. It did improve in 2019 but was still ranked No. 85 in the country.
Southern Miss (Sept. 26) – The Golden Eagles actually played and lost to three common opponents with Auburn last year. The Tigers beat Tulane 24-6, Mississippi State 56-23 and Alabama 48-45. Southern Miss. lost to Tulane 13-30, Miss. State 15-38 and Alabama 7-49. Again, the Eagles will undoubtedly provide a modicum of competition but should not pose a real threat.
Andy Graham is a regular columnist for The Outlook.