No. 22 Mississippi opens season against Mercer; Dart, Sanders QB competition enters next phase

Mercer (1-0) at No. 22 Mississippi (8-5 in 2022), Saturday at 2 p.m. ET (SECN+/ESPN+)

Line: No line, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Ole Miss leads 1-0.


Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin wants to reverse the end-of-season, four-game slide and get his envious quarterback situation resolved. It's a chance for him to see four-year Oklahoma State starting quarterback Spencer Sanders run his offense in a game and check on returning starter Jaxson Dart's progress after a solid first season in Oxford. Both seem likely to play, whoever starts. Mercer is seeking its first 2-0 start since 2019 and first under coach Drew Cronic.


The Ole Miss running game led the Southeastern Conference and ranked third nationally last season, averaging 256.6 yards a game. Even with the attention on the quarterback competition, the Rebels' strength still figures to come on the ground behind Quinshon Judkins. Mercer held North Alabama to 248 total yards and 156 rushing yards in a 17-7 opening win.


Mercer: LB Isaac Dowling is a first-team All-Southern Conference performer who opened with 10 tackles, including 1 1/2 for a loss, against North Alabama. He had 99 tackles last season, second-most on the league.

Ole Miss: RB Quinshon Judkins is back after an SEC-leading, record-setting freshman season. The star running back is a preseason All-America pick who ran for 1,567 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, both school records.


Mercer and Ole Miss have, in fact, played before. It was Nov. 4, 1911. And the Rebels won 34-0 in Macon, Georgia. ... It's the third straight season Ole Miss has opened in the Top 25, something that hasn't happened in Oxford since 2016. ... Rebels defensive end Cedric Johnson was awarded the Chucky Mullins Courage Award and will wear a No. 38 patch this season. ... Nearly 25% of Ole Miss's total 128-man roster (31) are transfers. ... This is Mercer's first trip to Mississippi for a game in 82 years, dating to a loss at Mississippi College in 1941.


AP college football: and