It's that time again... time for previews from the Cup's "experts" detailing how they expect the Ole Miss football season to shake out. We here at the Cup do what we can to consider everything we can about the upcoming season to provide you with the most accurate prognostications
on the Internet written on Red Cup Rebellion, despite our full awareness that so much is truly unknown about this or any football season. Throughout this week, each Cupdater will be posting his own beliefs and prognostications regarding this soon-to-arrive Rebel football season. First up is Juco All-American.
Last season, I predicted a 10-2 regular season finish. I was wrong about several games, but my overall record on picks (in terms of how many I got right versus how many I got wrng) was 9-3. That's much better than the ratio of right to wrong amongst my weekly game previews which was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-450.
After the jump, my preview for this season. And yes.... this means that those of you I know can stop asking me every five minutes about how I think we'll do this year.
Before I begin, let me explain the scoring system I'll use. I'm approaching this from a "confidence of win" standpoint. 0% confident of win means that I'm certain we'll lose. 100% confident of win means I'm certain we'll win. 50% confidence of win means it's a toss-up. You get it? If not, it probably wasn't a good idea to skip out on those GED courses.
Another precursor: this entire post assumes that Jeremiah Masoli is cleared.
Jacksonville State - 100% confident of win
I'm not saying we'll curbstomp them American History X style, but I just don't see a way that this ends with a loss for the Rebels. I haven't done much research as to their athletes, but our defense is absolutely nuts, and we could probably win this game with our second string offense... which isn't good.
@Tulane - 98% confident of win
Yay! New Orleans! Again, I've barely even looked at Tulane's team, but it would really surprise me if we lost this one. Tulane simply doesn't have the ability to recruit like an SEC school, and they went 3-9 last year in the C-USA. They lost to, among others, Marshall and Rice. They were also obliterated by Southern Miss and UCF. I expect us to get a lot of time in for backups during this game.
Vanderbilt - 80% confident of win
Vanderbilt will probably have a good defense again this season considering that Chris Marve returns. Warren Norman is a pretty good back too, though I think he's a little overrated right now. Still, our defense shut them out last year, and I can't fathom Larry Smith doing anything worthwhile under center this season. Also, their offensive line could be really, really bad. I think we'll move the ball decently, stop them, and win by somewhere around two touchdowns.
Fresno - 75% confident of win
Last season, Fresno hung with the big boys early in their season and slept through conference play behind Ryan Matthews. Matthews is gone (please be good. I have you in a fantasy league.), but that doesn't mean they'll suck. Matthews' backup, Robbie Rouse, was only a freshman last year and sported a 5.8 yard per carry average. He' definitely not a bruiser, but he had long runs of 25, 21, 36, 29, and 34 yards in each game to open the season last year. Considering that our offense could struggle to move the ball this season, a few big runs could be the difference in the game. Still, I think we'll pull this one out. Again, our defense should be really, really good. If our offense can't move it against Fresno, who gave up 52 points to a Ron Zook coached Illinois team, we're in trouble when we face SEC defenses.
Kentucky - 70% confident of win
There are three reasons that I'm a bit scared of the Kentucky Wildcats. 1. Derrick Locke - Locke wasn't a consistent runner last year, walking away from several games with fewer than 4 yards per carry, but there were three games where Locke exploded. He was relatively unstoppable against Auburn, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt, all of whom boasted decent defenses last year. 2. Randall Cobb - Cobb is a huge playmaker who still isn't touching the ball enough for Kentucky. Last season, Cobb averaged 6.1 yards per carry, but he only got to run 94 times. 3. The Defense - this is a good warm-up for the defenses we will face after week five. They're not going to be incredible, but they won't be a slouch either. All those things make me nervous. However, their offensive line is replacing a lot from last year, and I think they're in for a world of hurt. If I'm Tyrone Nix, I'm blitzing Mike Hartline like my life depends on it.
@Alabama - 10% confident of win
So you're SAYIN' THERE'S A CHANCE! Honestly, I almost wrote that I was zero percent confident of a win for this one. The only thing holding me from doing that is Jeremiah Masoli. Maybe he's horrible for us, but if we stand any chance to win this one from my vantage point right now, it's freak plays from a playmaking quarterback. Masoli struggled at Oregon versus epic defenses, so it doesn't look likely that he would succeed here in a new system against them. Still, you just never know with a guy like that. I don't need to explain why Alabama concerns me. I think we're all familiar with them.
@Arkansas - 35% confident of win
Ryan Mallet isn't likely to repeat his 12/34 performance against us this season. He's a super-talented quarterback. He does struggle with accuracy, and probably always will, but it's not as if he's inaccurate enough to throw interceptions. His TD:INT ratio last season was at 30:7. He also has the benefit of several good wide receivers, a strong tight end in DJ Williams, and a group of backs that are probably underrated. The defense was horrible last year, but I'd guess they will be improved this season. I'll say this again so that they can disprove me like they did last year: the strength of Arkansas is a weakness of ours. They can pass well, and we have an untested secondary. I think that will be the difference in the game.
Auburn - 35% confident of win
Auburn is such an unknown right now. They have a great offensive playcaller in Gus Malzahn, and some promising offensive weapons in Cameron Newton and Michael Dyer. Still, they don't return much in terms of actual production. I will say that it shocks me to hear no one talk about Darvin Adams. He caught sixty balls last year and was three yards shy of a thousand yards. The guy is super-talented and 6'3". If Auburn's defense has a weakness, it's the defensive line. They have some experience there, but there's no one who jumps out as a guy about which to really worry. This game though should be a big test for our team.
Louisiana-Lafayette - 100% confident of win
By this time, the Rebels will be running on all cylinders. I'm a big fan of games like this late in the season. They allow us to give some rest to players we depend on week in and week out. Dexter McCluster didn't play last year against Northern Arizona, and a few of our stars probably won't play much against UL-Laff.
@Tennessee - 75% confident of win
This is probably where I differ from a lot of fans. I'm not concerned with Tennessee much at all. It's not just because I watched us utterly destroy them last year. It's more because of all that they lost. They're breaking in essentially an entirely new offensive line. They start a junior college quarterback. They lost their top two rushers. It's going to be a tough year for them. Their defense should be alright, but they're not what they were last season (see: Eric Berry).
@LSU - 45% confident of win
I think LSU holds the edge in this one because of some experience at key positions, but it's not a stronge edge. This game could really go either way. Jordan Jefferson isn't good, and Jarret Lee is worse. The key offensively to LSU's season is going to revolve around getting the ball to Terrance Tolliver and Russell Shepard. If they can do that, which I'm not confident of, they can win. I don't think very highly of their running game, since Stevan Ridley didn't show me anything last year with which I was impressed. Their defense should be really good again, but that hasn't been enough to reach the record LSU fans want. Patrick Peterson is a freak of nature, so I hope we don't throw it his way too much. Oh... also... if we're going to kick field goals, let's kick them high. I don't want any repeats of that crap from last year.
MSU - 55% confident of win
It's not that I think they have the talent to compete with us. It's not really even that I think they have the coaching to compete with us. There's just something about this stupid game. Unless one team is fantastic and the other horrible, it's difficult to predict who will win. I think that we should beat them on paper, but obviously the same could be said for last season. We lost to them even after we had discovered Dexter McCluster. I can't believe that. Ugh.
So what does it all mean? If you follow it exactly, you might think my prediction is eight wins. That's not the case though. That's not how probability works. 7-5. That's my prediciton, and I'm sticking to it.