Circle these games, dates

Mississippi football fans, circle these games:
  • Auburn at Mississippi State, Sept. 8, 11 a.m. It’s one of the biggest early season games in recent memory in Mississippi college football. You look at this State schedule, and the Bulldogs, with a victory over Auburn, would have a chance to take a 7-0 record into an Oct. 27 game at Alabama. A chance, mind you: Troy, on the road, is not a gimmee. Neither is Kentucky on the road or Tennessee at home. But State has a chance to make a national splash this year. The schedule sets up nicely for the Bulldogs.
  • Central Arkansas at Ole Miss, Sept. 1. 6 p.m. There’s no such thing as a gimmee for Hugh Freeze’s first Ole Miss team. Can’t remember a Mississippi coach inheriting such a problematic team or such a horrendous schedule. “But Central Arkansas?” you say. Central Arkansas was 9-3 last year and boasts a roster with several BCS transfers, including former Ole Miss receiver Jesse Grandy. Again, this Ole Miss can’t look past anybody.
  • USM at Nebraska Sept. 1, 2:30 p.m. Oddsmakers have Nebraska a three-touchdown favorite, in large part because the Golden Eagles break in a new quarterback after four years of the splendid Austin Davis. USM has won at Lincoln as a three-TD underdog before. Hard to see it happening this time, but I’d also be surprised if Nebraska wins in a rout.
  • Jackson State at Texas Southern, Sept. 15 at Houston. The Tigers need to come out of their first two games (non-conference games at Mississippi State and against Tennessee State in Memphis) with a 1-1 record. Then comes Texas Southern in the SWAC opener. That one very well could determine the direction of this JSU team.

Tomorrow: A stab at predicting the records of State, USM, Ole Miss and Jackson State.

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