Published July 20, 2010 - 7:51am
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I would like to preface this article by admitting my loyalty and heart belong to the Rebels, and hopefully the school soon to name the Landshark as their mascot. You may look at my predictions and say, “Ole Miss 9-3? This guy has had too much of that Ole Miss Kool-Aid.” I assure you that I may have had a few sips of the Ole Miss Kool-Aid, and it is delicious, but I am not completely inebriated by it…yet. After looking at the Rebels squad, a 7-5 season seemed like it would be a successful year, but as I broke down the schedule I found it unusually weak for an SEC West school. Other than the conference games, which include Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee from the East, the Rebels have a favorable schedule for winning games. I have come across some other factors that could lead to a successful season for the Rebels.
First, the past: Ole Miss is coming off of back to back 9 win seasons. These players have some confidence and know what it takes to win. Although many of the offensive starters have been watching from the bench, they have seen what it takes to win football games in the SEC and that experience is very valuable. Second, Houston Nutt: people have always said that Houston Nutt is a “Big Game” coach, every year he beats at least one really highly ranked team that he shouldn’t have; he has also become famous/infamous for winning when expectations are low, and losing when expectations are high. Although the Rebels finished the last 2 seasons ranked in the top 20, almost every major news source says that the Rebels will be down this year (those same publications had the Rebels in the top 10 last preseason).
The defense for the Rebels will still be a strong point: Tyrone Nix has been dialing up blitzes perfectly for the last couple seasons at Ole Miss, and he will have some weapons to use this year as well. Ole Miss lost almost all of their offensive production, so it would be impossible to project what type of offense will be coming out of Oxford this year: Ole Miss will be starting a new quarterback and runningback, as well as receivers and multiple other key positions.. If those new starters can learn to produce then Ole Miss has a real shot. The running game has a little bit of experience returning Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis which are quality SEC backs, but are unlikely to be Heisman candidates. Jesse Grandy gives a little bit of a wow factor in the backfield and is capable exploding for the big play, this stable of backs should produce at least average SEC rushing statistics. And if the Rebels find a way to stay around the middle of the pack in the quarterback and receiving positions then they will be able to win some games. The quarterback position is the biggest question mark for the Rebels this year. Nathan Stanley appears to be the starter heading into the fall, he played the majority of the minutes in the Cotton Bowl victory against Oklahoma State. He seems to be more of a manager of the game than an unbelievable weapon, but sometimes that is exactly what you need to win games.
The next reason that Ole Miss will finish above where the experts put them is their schedule: Other than the SEC West teams they face every year, the schedule is a joke. I believe I picked just two upsets; and with only two upsets that puts the Rebels at nine wins for the season. Those two “upsets” include Ole Miss beating LSU and Auburn, and neither of those teams have done extraordinary things the past 2 years. Honestly, their schedule is probably the weakest in the SEC. But look out, because soon the Rebels add Texas, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Boise State to the slate.
Well, call up your bookie in Vegas, because here are my predictions for each game this season:
Jacksonville St – Sept 4, 2010 - W 38-10
I had to Wikipedia Jacksonville State to make sure it was in Jacksonville, Florida. Turns out I was wrong, it is in Alabama. Ole Miss shouldn’t have trouble beating teams that I know this little about.
@ Tulane – Sept 11, 2010 - W 31-14
Let’s be honest, Ole Miss AD Pete Boone scheduled this one in New Orleans just to have a weekend down in NOLA, the Rebels should be able to establish what their identity will be for the upcoming year.
Vanderbilt – Sept 18, 2010 – W 17-14
They play each other every year, and it seems like every year Ole Miss fans laugh at playing Vandy, but every year it is decided by a field goal. Vaught-Hemingway, gives the Rebels the edge in 2010.
Fresno St – Sept 25, 2010 – W 24-17
This appears to be the toughest out of conference game for the Rebels. Fresno State is likely to have a high powered offense, but they won’t be used to seeing an SEC defense. Let’s just hope the Rebels can put up enough points on offense to keep up with the Fresno State offense.
Kentucky – Oct 2, 2010 – W 34-27
Tim Couch is gone, which means that the best Kentucky will ever do is the Music City Bowl. I have them winning 6 games this year, and if they can get by Ole Miss, which is very possible, that will put them right back where they belong, Music City. I’d still like to have their basketball program though. This game will be a close one, and was one of my toughest picks. Once again, the frozen tundra of college football prevails (Vaught-Hemingway Stadium).
@ Alabama – Oct 16, 2010 – L 17-38
If I pick OleMiss here, my blog loses all respect, but anything is possible with Houston “big game” Nutt.
@ Arkansas – Oct 23, 2010 – L 27-28
We’ve gotten the last two, which means we are due to be called by the pigs. Houston Nutt will lose to the Razorbacks for the first time as head coach for the Rebels.
Auburn – Oct 30, 2010 - W 14-10
This is one that most preseason experts would call an upset. But I think that Auburn is overrated in the preseason. Because as an Ole Miss fan, I know how little preseason hype actually matters. I’m not buying the preseason Auburn hype machine, when this Chizik guy shows me some stuff I’ll believe it; but as of today, I still question that hire. Another factor is that the “Gene Pool” (Auburn Student Body) won’t be present to help the Tigers to victory.
Louisiana Lafayette – Nov 6, 2010 – W 45-7
Come on… Really? At least it is homecoming.
@ Tennessee – Nov 13, 2010 - L 17-21
The young talent that Kiffin brought in will be the only thing that gets them this W, closer than the experts think though. The Dooley hire is also questionable.
@ LSU – Nov 20, 2010 – W 31-13
Les Miles’ 2nd to last season in Baton Rouge will almost be concluded, LSU is in a downward spiral that is about to get out of control this year, they will be out for his neck, but his national title will give him 1 more year. They still know how to make the best corn dogs down there; I just wish they would leave that scent down in Baton Rouge.
Mississippi St – Nov 27, 2010 - W 42-21
In the Egg Bowl, Dan Mullen won’t refer to Ole Miss by name, calling them “the school up north” but Ole Miss proves that “the school beneath us” is just that, and the Rebels cruise to victory to shut up those Maroon fans who claim that they’d rather go 1-11 and beat Ole Miss than 9-4 and lose to us. That theory just proves the lack of enlightenment that is making its way to down those dusty cow patty covered Oktibbeha County roads.