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USC Trojans, Ole Miss Rebels 2025-2026 Series Canceled

Lane Kiffin - USC Head Coach
© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The powers that be got this one wrong.

The USC Trojans and Ole Miss Rebels scheduled a highly anticipated home-and-home series, with the initial tilt between the two blue-chip programs slated to take place in Los Angeles, followed by a clash the following year in Oxford, Miss. Regrettably, the series has been nixed.

Now, instead of playing USC in 2025 and 2026, Ole Miss will line up against The Citadel and Georgia State. No disrespect to those two fine institutions, but while USC has 11 national championships, the reserves and walk-ons at Ole Miss could easily handle the FCS Bulldogs of The Citadel and the Group of 5 Panthers of Georgia State.

Games that would have been filled with drama and intriguing storylines, will be replaced with snooze-fests in which the outcomes are preordained.

'Reasons' for Cancelation

USC and Ole Miss compete in the two strongest conferences in the country—USC in the Big Ten Conference and Ole Miss in the Southeastern Conference. The primacy of these two conferences in contemporary college football is often acknowledged by journalists, commentators and fans who refer to the "Power 2" conferences. Given their formidable conference schedules, both schools are reportedly seeking to avoid overextending themselves in nonconference scheduling.

USC's annual nonconference schedule includes its traditional rivalry game with Notre Dame. Adding SEC powerhouses into the mix would render the Trojans' schedules daunting. However, as recently reported by the New York Times, USC takes pride in regularly scheduling games against strong opponents, and the Trojans are the only FBS team never to play an FCS opponent.

With the Trojans off their docket, Ole Miss' scheduled nonconference opponents in 2025 are The Citadel, Wake Forest and Tulane. In 2026, the Rebels will square off against Charlotte, Georgia State and Eastern Kentucky. None of these matchups will have the luster of a heavyweight showdown between USC and Ole Miss.

Lane Kiffin's History With the USC Trojans

A decade ago, Kiffin was fired as USC's coach. Dramatically, the firing took place on a tarmac at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Kiffin was only 34 when hired as the man to lead USC shortly after the Pete Carroll era. Despite his youth, he had already been an assistant under Carroll and then the coach of the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Volunteers. Nevertheless, Kiffin later told ESPN that he "wasn't ready" for the job when hired at USC. He said his ego was "very large" and that he was unprepared for "all that fame and that money."

After his tenure at USC from 2010-13, Nick Saban hired Kiffin as Alabama's offensive coordinator. He then took the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic University before Ole Miss hired him in 2019.

Lane Kiffin -- Ole Miss. Head Coach
© Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

In light of this backstory, Sports Illustrated aptly observed that the canceled home-and-home series would have "had plenty of storylines to appeal to the average fan." In addition, USC and Ole Miss have never played. Thus, the matchups were much-anticipated.

The Dart Factor

Yet another intriguing aspect of the canceled series is that Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart began his collegiate playing days at USC after a standout high school career in which he was named MaxPreps National Player of the Year.

Jaxson Dart - USC Trojans QB
© Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Dart transferred to Ole Miss in 2022 when Caleb Williams transferred from Oklahoma to USC.

During his first two seasons as the Rebels' signal caller, Dart started 25 games, passed for more than 6,000 yards and threw 43 touchdown passes. He has also rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns. Dart is a leading Heisman Trophy contender in 2024. Although Dart is a senior and will not be playing for Ole Miss in 2025, the significant roles he has played on both teams would have added yet another dimension of intrigue to the meetings between the schools.

Jaxson Dart - Ole Miss QB
© Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

For college football fans, the cancellation of the USC-Ole Miss home-and-home series is a shame. Although the two universities have plausibly explained that, in light of their rigorous conference schedules, they wish to avoid routinely scheduling nonconference games against perennial powerhouse programs, Saturdays in the fall are made for matchups like USC-Ole Miss.


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