Quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) passes prior to Jackson State's Blue and White Spring football game on April 24, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The 2022 Mississippi college football season, a sneak preview:

Sept. 3: Ole Miss clobbers Troy 41-14, and souvenir program sales set a record because even the most ardent Rebel fans need a roster to tell who all the transfers are. Mississippi State defeats Memphis 30-29 when a long Memphis punt return for the apparent winning touchdown is called back because of an inadvertent whistle. Southern Miss upsets Liberty 24-21 in overtime, spoiling Liberty coach Hugh Freeze’s (USM, Class of 1992) return to Hattiesburg. On Sunday, Jackson State whips Florida A&M 28-17 in the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami Gardens.

Rick Cleveland

Sept. 10: The Miami Hurricanes deal Southern Miss its first loss, 31-14 in a morning kickoff at Miami. Several hours later, Mississippi State rallies after midnight to defeat Arizona 29-28 on a last-second touchdown pass. In between, Ole Miss whacks Central Arkansas 38-13. Jackson State slams Tennessee State 37-20 in what apparently will be the last Southern Heritage Classic at Memphis, a long-standing rivalry game that JSU coach Deion Sanders famously has called “a hustle.”

Sept. 17: Ole Miss knocks off Georgia Tech 31-20 in the Rebels’ first visit to Grant Field since 1946, one year before John Howard Vaught became the Ole Miss coach. Mississippi State drops a 27-26 decision to LSU at Tiger Stadium, where Tigers coach Brian Kelly line dances, somewhat awkwardly, with LSU recruits at midfield afterward. Southern Miss rocks Northwestern (La.) State 34-10. Jackson State easily defeats Grambling 31-7.

Sept. 24: Will Rogers, who never met a pass he didn’t like, throws for five touchdowns in State’s 42-10 trouncing of Bowling Green. Ole Miss hangs on for a 27-20 victory over stubborn Tulsa. Southern Miss drops to 2-2 with a 20-17 loss at Tulane. Jackson State sacks Mississippi Valley State 33-7 before a second consecutive crowd of 45,000 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Oct. 1: In a battle of SEC unbeaten teams, Ole Miss edges Kentucky 30-27. Texas A$M (that’s no typo) defeats Mississippi State 20-17, dropping the Bulldogs to 3-2.

Oct. 8: Mississippi State stuns Arkansas 42-41 in overtime. Ole Miss wallops Vanderbilt 38-14. Southern Miss falls at Troy in its first Sun Belt Conference game, 24-20. Alabama State, under first-year coach Eddie Robinson Jr. scares unbeaten Jackson State before falling 28-24 at Montgomery.

Oct. 15: Southern Miss wins its first-ever Sun Belt Conference game, downing Arkansas State 24-20. Ole Miss defeats Auburn 34-17. Auburn’s Board of Trustees polls its members afterward for the firing of Bryan Harsin. Mississippi State upsets Kentucky 31-27. Bethune-Cookman shocks visiting Jackson State 27-24, spoiling JSU’s perfect season.

Oct. 22: Ole Miss rallies past LSU 37-34 to remain unbeaten at 7-0. Mississippi State gets its annual 40 lashes at Alabama, 42-21. Southern Miss returns to its Super Back offense to defeat Texas State 27-20 on the road. Jackson State bounces back with a 52-7 trouncing of the Campbell Camels.

Oct. 29: On Thursday night (the 27th), Louisiana nips Southern Miss 27-24. Texas A$M (again, not a typo) knocks Ole Miss from the ranks of unbeaten 34-31 at College Station. Jackson State waltzes past Southern U. 38-7 at Veterans Memorial Stadium, but the halftime show is much closer with the Sonic Boom staying on the field an extra five minutes to a standing ovation.

Nov. 5: State wins 31-21 over Auburn. Auburn Board of Trustees can’t get a quorum for another coaching change. Ty Keys returns from a leg injury to lift Southern Miss to a 27-20 victory over Georgia State, moving the Golden Eagles to 5-4 and one victory from bowl eligibility. Jackson State travels to Houston for a 38-20 victory over Texas Southern.

Nov. 12: After a week of Nick Saban singing praises of Lane Kiffin, Alabama controls the ball for nearly three quarters of playing time in a 48-17 victory over Ole Miss at Oxford. Georgia thrashes Mississippi State 38-14 at Starkville. Coastal Carolina drops Southern Miss 34-27. Jackson State whacks Alabama A&M 44-10.

Nov. 19: Fred McNair and Alcorn State scare the socks off Jackson State before the Tigers prevail 29-28 in the Soul Bowl. JSU finishes the regular season with a 10-1 record. Arkansas runs to a 30-24 victory over Ole Miss, making the Hogs 12-3 all-time against Ole Miss at Fayetteville. Mississippi State routs East Tennessee State 41-10. Southern Miss – finally – defeats South Alabama 27-24 to become bowl eligible.

Thanksgiving Day: It’s 7-4 Mississippi State going against 8-3 Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl at Oxford. The Rebels successfully protect their home turf in a 41-38 shootout.

Nov. 26: Southern Miss slams Louisiana-Monroe 34-17 on the road to finish 7-5 and await a bowl bid. 

With all this information – and two dollars – you can get a cold bottle of fresh spring water at your corner market. And, remember, you read it here first.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.