Jacksonville Sports Day

OUTBACK: Ole Miss Begins Preparing for No. 7 Hoosiers

OXFORD, Miss. – For the first time since 2015 the Ole Miss football team is in bowl week as Lane Kiffin and the Rebels begin preparation for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2 (11:30 a.m. CT, ABC) against No. 7 Indiana.

Kiffin, who boasts eight bowl victories as an assistant or head coach, has plenty of experience in the college football postseason, but even this year’s bowl experience will be new for the veteran coach.

“Excited about this matchup, this bowl game in Tampa. First time in five years being in a bowl game for this program, so I’m sure a lot of fans are excited as well,” Kiffin said. “I’m really excited for our players who get to go to a bowl game. Even though it’s abnormal and not like it used to be. We’ll basically just go one day early. The challenge is to play really well and win the game.”

Ole Miss will head out just one day earlier than it would for a normal in-season road trip as many of the typical bowl week festivities will not take place. Nonetheless, the Rebels will head to Tampa for their first Outback Bowl appearance looking to improve the nation’s second-best bowl win percentage.

“When you come back here and go in that indoor and see that banner up there,” Kiffin said, “What do you want that banner to say when you bring your kids here someday?”

The Rebels will face an Indiana program that is in search of its first bowl win since 1991. The Hoosiers have lost their last five bowl games, including a 23-22 defeat to Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl one year

However, this 6-1 Indiana squad is one of the best in program history, having already locked up just the second winning season in 12 years and the team’s best win percentage since going 9-2 in 1967—a season that ended with a Rose Bowl loss to the O.J. Simpson-led USC Trojans.

“This will be challenging,” Kiffin said. “They’re very good. There’s a reason they’re 6-1 and have only lost to Ohio State by one score. They’re very challenging on defense schematically. They play really hard and create a lot of turnovers.”

The key to success for the Ole Miss offense will be ball security. Indiana is second in the nation in interceptions with 17. The Hoosiers are far-and-away the best when it comes to interceptions per game, averaging 2.43 per contest.

Kiffin praised the job done by the Hoosiers and their coaching staff this season, one that includes numerous familiar faces for the Ole Miss faithful. Head coach Tom Allen, defensive coordinator Kane Wommack and safeties coach Jason Jones are among several former Rebel staffers now leading the Indiana program.

Jones also coached cornerbacks for Kiffin at FAU a year ago. Not coincidentally, the Owls led the country in interceptions in 2020 with 22.

“Jason has done a great job. I texted him the other day,” Kiffin said. “I want to say we led the country in interceptions a year ago with him at FAU coaching DBs and now they’re doing it there. Obviously he does a great job.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *