Saturday, November 3, marks the first time the Ole Miss Rebels and the Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina will play each other in football since September 2009, with the Gamecocks heading down to Oxford, Mississippi, to play the Rebs at home in Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium.
With the anticipation surrounding the team’s first match in almost a decade, fans may be disappointed to know that after this weekend, the two South Eastern Conference (SEC) teams aren’t slated to see each other again until 2025.
According to The State, part of the reason the matchup is such a rarity is due to the conference’s expansion right before the 2014 season, when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the SEC.
“It’s hard when you expand,” USC head coach Will Muschamp said. “We expand to the larger divisions and conferences. It’s just harder and harder. With a lot of people that clamor for certain rivalries to ever come out of our league, which I agree with. I’m an SEC guy. Been in the league a long time. I’m a traditionalist. There’s certain rivalries that need to remain intact. When you expand, that happens. We don’t have Nebraska-Oklahoma anymore.”
????networks and start times for Week 11 » https://t.co/OlFari6FGJ
Finalized networks and times will be announced after games on November 3. pic.twitter.com/UKNA79ALXj
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) October 29, 2018
The SEC’s scheduling system, which The State reported was put in place after 2014’s new additions to the conference, is set up so teams play the same opponents every year for seven of the eight conference games played each season.
The conference is split into two divisions, SEC East and SEC West, and six of those games are against the other teams in each school’s respective division. The seventh game is a permanent cross-division game, typically a traditional rivalry such as LSU-Florida or Tennessee-Alabama, and the final conference game rotates to be against another one of the six teams in the other division.
There is some talk of the league going to a nine-conference game schedule, but until that happens fans will have to “savor their rare meetings,” such as this weekend’s Ole Miss-South Carolina match up.
“That’s part of the expansion,” Muschamp said. “And then you get in the argument of scheduling and do we need to be a nine-schedule? Do we need to rotate or do we need to rotate two? There’s just a lot of, we’ve got some people that don’t agree with what the divisions should be. That’s what commissioner Sankey and his staff are in charge of, and I’ll let them handle all that.”
Ole Miss and USC will kick off at 12 p.m. on Saturday and will be shown on the SEC Network.