Is Ole Miss a 'Destination Program' Under Lane Kiffin? CFB Analyst Reveals Thoughts

Have the Ole Miss Rebels elevated themselves as one of the top programs in college football? And, more importantly, can they reach the College Football Playoff this season?
Nov 4, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin reacts after a touchdown during the second half against the Texas A&M Aggies at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin reacts after a touchdown during the second half against the Texas A&M Aggies at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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The hype train is rolling in Oxford, Mississippi, in preparation for the 2024 college football season, and the Ole Miss Rebels have their eyes set on a berth in the newly-expanded College Football Playoff.

How likely is it that the Rebels reach this pinnacle this season? ESPN analyst Greg McElroy thinks the hype is legitimate, especially considering the work that head coach Lane Kiffin has done in the transfer portal.

McElroy recently spoke about the Rebels on an edition of Always College Football, and he believes that Kiffin has elevated this program to a legitimate contender at the national level.

"Lane Kiffin has certainly embraced the current state of college football," McElroy said, "whether it's the portal, being outspoken about the portal, being very active in social media, altering how he's handling the spring game. He's done an awful lot. It's kind of made Ole Miss a destination program. He's done a great job of making them a team that's really attractive in the portal."

While he believes there are maybe five "losable" games on Ole Miss' schedule this season, McElroy thinks the Rebels win three or four of those games, putting them above their Vegas-projected win total of 9.5.

"They've been to multiple New Year's Six bowl games, but this is the first year where it really feels like coming into the season, it feels a little bit for Ole Miss like it's playoff or bust," McElroy said. "A lot of people seem to think this team is destined for the playoff.

"10-2, the Ole Miss Rebels? Probably not in the SEC Championship, but more than likely en route to the College Football Playoff. Just a matter of who those losses come to."

Since the SEC Championship Game's introduction in 1992, the Rebels have never been a participant in those festivities in Atlanta. But in the new age of college football that features an expanded playoff, perhaps the importance of conference championship games has diminished somewhat. Sure, they can give a team a first-round bye, but simply getting into the playoff is the primary goal, at this stage.

If the preseason hype is any indication, Ole Miss has a legitimate expectation to be in that conversation in late November. The Rebels will open their 2024 season at home against the FCS Furman Paladins on Aug. 31. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff, and it will be televised on SEC Network+.


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John Macon Gillespie

JOHN MACON GILLESPIE

John Macon Gillespie is the publisher of The Grove Report and has experience on the Ole Miss beat spanning five years.