The 2024 Auburn football schedule will feature Oklahoma for just the third time ever, and the first time in conference play, but won’t feature Ole Miss for the first time in over 30 years and Mississippi State for the first time in 70. That fact is something that AL.com’s Kevin Scarbinsky believes “may not be a bad thing.”
“Something was missing beyond a date with LSU, one of the more electric, dramatic and psychotic annual series gifted to us by the league’s expansion to 12 teams and two divisions in 1992,” Scarbinsky prefaced before saying, “It was the entire state of Mississippi. No Ole Miss for the first time since 1989. No Mississippi State for the first time since 1954. Given that the Rebels and Bulldogs have a chance to do something this year that they’ve never done – sweep the Tigers for a second straight season – that may not be a bad thing.”
Mississippi State was a punching bag for the Tigers for most of the 21st century until the past two years. Will Rogers’ big arm has torn up AU’s secondary the past two games of the series — games that featured major comebacks from both teams, but only the Bulldogs having completed theirs at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2021. On the other hand, Ole Miss was an even more beat-up heavy bag by the Tigers, having only recently become a thorn in Auburn’s side during the 2022 disaster of a down year. Lane Kiffin spurning the head coaching job on the Plains heightened the bad blood between the fanbases, but the 8-2 record AU has against the Rebs over the past decade dictates that the SEC pairing is hardly a balanced rivalry.
Auburn football fans will have to embrace new traditions
Losing the Mississippi State rivalry in particular is painful for those who take pride in tradition, but the reality of the new profit-driven college football world we live in is that there will simply have to be new ones made for the sake of maximizing revenue — which, to be fair, then helps local business when new fanbases come to town.
Considering all of the “new normals” being asked of society, facing Oklahoma and Texas every other year instead of both Mississippi schools annually is hardly the worst change there has been.