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2021 Ole Miss college football preview: Offense will not be an issue in Lane Kiffin’s second season

Ole Miss put out one of the best offenses and worst defenses in college football in 2020. If you like points, the Rebels will be your team to watch in Year 2 under Lane Kiffin.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Mississippi vs Indiana Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Ole Miss Rebels were among the most entertaining teams in college football in 2020, and that is likely going to be the case in Year Two with Lane Kiffin in charge. This legitimately could be the best offense in the country, and the Rebels should be a huge pain for some of the top programs in the SEC West to take down.

The issue was defense last season, and that should also be true in 2021. If the defense improves to being merely average this season, the Rebels would be an extremely tough out even in the brutal SEC West. But expect big point totals all season long, and this should be a fun program to follow.

2020 Season Review

  • 5-5, 4-5 SEC (5th in West), Won Outback Bowl (26-20 vs. Indiana)
  • Scored more than 30 points seven times, allowed more than 30 points even times, lost to Alabama 63-48

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 17
ESPN Returning Production: 81% overall (22nd): 78% offense (44th), 83% defense (20th)
Returning Talent Index: 1.35, 4th in SEC
Returning starters: 8/11 offense, 9/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Matt Corral (Junior)

Nobody has benefited more from Lane Kiffin’s arrival than Matt Corral. He completed 70.9% of his passes in 2020 for 3,337 yards with 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also rushed for 506 yards and four touchdowns. The numbers should be massive once again this season, and the interception total is certainly unique. Of the 14 interceptions, 11 of them came in two games. Let’s assume he will limit the five-interception performances in 2021 and will be a big-time playmaker for the Rebels.

Offense (non-QB): RB Jerrion Ealy (Junior)

Jerrion Ealy is an all-purpose playmaker who can do just about anything offensively. He is a running back, but he is excellent as a pass catcher and is dangerous in the return game. Ole Miss should try and get the ball in his hands as often as possible in 2021 especially as they try to replace the production of wide receiver Elijah Moore, who had 1,193 receiving yards and caught eight touchdowns last season.

Defense: DL Sam Williams (Senior)

Ole Miss put together one of the worst defenses in the country last season, and they return quite a bit of the players who were on the field in 2020. Whether that is a good thing is up for debate, but Sam Williams should be a key piece to this defense heading into the year. He finished with eight tackles for loss last season with four sacks. Ole Miss will need to be opportunistic and create turnovers in 2021 to get the ball back to the offense as often as possible.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 36th overall: 14th offense, 80th defense, 96th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 24th overall: 10th offense, 59th defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +15000
To win SEC: +2500
Win total: 7.5 (Over -139, Under +110)

2020 Against The Spread: 5-5-0
2020 Point Total: Over 6-4-0

2021 Ole Miss Schedule

2021 Ole Miss Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Monday, Sep. 6 Louisville (Mercedes-Benz Stadium, ATL) 8:00pm/ESPN OM -7.5
Saturday, Sep. 11 Austin Peay 7:30pm/ESPN+ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 Tulane 8:00pm/ESPN2 N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 OPEN TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 at Alabama TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 Arkansas TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 at Tennessee TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 LSU TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 at Auburn TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 Liberty TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 Texas A&M TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 20 Vanderbilt TBA N/A
Thursday, Nov. 25 at Mississippi State 7:30pm/ESPN N/A