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Ole Miss Sets History, What Happens Next?

Lane Kiffin helped the Rebels win 10 games, but is this his final game in Oxford?

Ole Miss not only won the Egg Bowl 31-21, but it made history along the way. Ten wins any season is tall ask. Don't believe it? The Rebels have never seen double-digit success in the regular season. 

Barring a spectacle of upsets championship weekend, Ole Miss (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will be headed to a New Year's Six Bowl in January. The only way to sweeten a record-setting season would be to take away Lane Kiffin's phone until say March? 

At that point, LSU and Florida should have hired the next head coach of the program, right? 

A win for the Rebels only strengthens Kiffin's name in the coaching search this among "elite" programs. USC likely will surpass on a reunion to bring the former Trojans coach back for Round 2. That doesn't mean the Tigers, Gators and maybe even Miami are willing to buy their ticket on the Lane Train. 

It could even come at a discounted price should Coral Gables at least come close to matching Kiffin's salary in Oxford. 

Should the No. 9 Rebels be so lucky to have this record in say 2023 or 2024, they'd have much more to play for. Eventually, 12 teams will be represented in the College Football Playoff. Ole Miss would easily be one of the dozen this season. 

Kiffin's story from being left at an airport tarmac to winning 10 games in the dreaded SEC West proves that a semicolon can be stronger than a period. All it took was a trip to Tuscaloosa, an earful from Nick Saban and two Conference USA titles in Boca Raton to bring the 46-year-old into the driver's seat as one of college football's finest. 

Everyone knows the type of offense Kiffin can produce. That was never the problem. Now comes the leadership aspect. Players are dream of playing under his direction. Those in Oxford have sipped the kool-aid and are all in so long as he remains at the forefront. 

The #ComeToTheSip is now trending on the daily. Recruits are ready to head to the Magnolia State instead of Alabama, Florida or Clemson. That's in large part due to Kiffin. 

Think that Scott Woodward doesn't see it? What about Scott Strickland? The next AD at Miami too? 

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The Rebels played a complete four quarter showing against Mike Leach Thursday night. The Bulldogs (7-5, 4-4 SEC) found consistency late, but the damage led by quarterback Matt Corral was too much. All MSU's Will Rogers could do was try to sling it until the whistle blew. 

Offense wins games, defense wins championships. A stronger showing against the Crimson Tide in Week 5 might have sent the Rebels to Atlanta instead of sitting at home and hoping for an upset to close out the SEC showdown. 

"The guys rose to the occasion and found a way to win," Kiffin said. "They did it. It wasn't easy. That's a top-10 rush defense on the road. I'm just so proud of our guys. It's just awesome to see them."

Kiffin has the Rebels likely in a New Year's Six Bowl for the first time since 2015. That season, Hugh Freeze led them to a 48-20 win over Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl. The year before, Freeze watched Ole Miss be manhandled by TCU in a 42-3 Peach Bowl loss. 

That was Freeze's third season. This is Kiffin's second. Look at the team from 2014 to the team in 2021. Think this version of Ole Miss football would wipe the floor of the old school Rebs? 

Ole Miss will bask in the moment of winning 10 games. They likely won't consider a New Year's Six bid as a consolation prize. Instead, they should view it as a building block of the future. 

That, of course, remains in the hands of athletic director Keith Carter, who understands that level of interest Kiffin is receiving in the coming days. A blank paycheck without a spending limit likely keeps the culture the second-year coach is building alive for more than just another month. 

Will Carter and the boosters, though, front the dough?  

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