The easiest nonconference schedule in the SEC last season?
That's an easy one ... Ole Miss.
The easiest nonconference schedule in the SEC next season?
Another easy one ... Ole Miss.
It's no secret that the Rebels needed to upgrade their schedule, and they have -- in a big way.
They will open the 2011 season at home against Boise State, which has established itself the past few years as the top non-BCS team in college football. The Broncos were unbeaten last season, capped by a win over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.
They will almost certainly start next season ranked in the top 5 nationally and are knocking on the door of finally playing their way into the BCS National Championship Game.
The interesting thing about the Ole Miss matchup is that there's not a return trip for the Rebels out to Boise. Instead, the Broncos will pocket $900,000 for coming to Oxford. It will be the most Ole Miss has ever paid a nonconference opponent to come play at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Props to the Rebels for stepping out there and playing the Broncos, who will open the 2010 season against Virginia Tech in Washington, D.C. They've beaten Oregon each of the past two years, including a win at Oregon in 2008.
Obviously, they're not easily intimidated. And for Ole Miss, this will be a good way to get some national attention right off the bat.
"We have been strengthening our nonconference schedule, and we certainly want to thank ESPN for helping make this possible," Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone said. "Boise State has a great tradition in football, and coach Chris Petersen has built the Broncos into a national power. I expect a great deal of anticipation from our fans."