Football is just over a month away, so it's time for us at the Cup to get out of our lazy, hazy offseason mode and more into our maniacally updated football mode. Over the next month, we'll be looking at coaches, players, and games which should make 2011 as frustrating and exciting as it is sure to be.
Today is me guessing things and assigning nearly random numerical values to these guesses. Today, I'm going to be looking at the probabilities I think the Rebels will have against each of their opponents this fall. Yes, this requred hardly any research but, hey, if I sat here and told you what to think, then you'd have nothing to comment on, right?
So let's begin. I imagine this could generate some good offseason discussion fodder.
BYU - PUSH (51%)
This game really is the most exciting game on the Rebels' schedule as far as I see it, simply because there are so many questions yet answered. Will BYU be able to bounce back into shape after a 7-6 season in 2010? Will the Rebel secondary stand a chance against Jake Heaps' arm? Will Randall Mackey or Barry Brunetti get the start at quarterback for the Rebs? Will distance and weather be a significant factor for BYU? Will the whiff of Bourbon and sight of Ole Miss co-eds be enough for honor code violations to be distributed amongst the BYU program en masse?
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - LIKELY WIN (99%)
I'd have this at 100% had the Jacksonville State game never happened last season.
at VANDERBILT - PUSH (50%)
I can't ever predict what will happen when Ole Miss plays Vanderbilt. Ever. Just flip a coin and go with wherever it lands.
GEORGIA - PUSH (45%)
Georgia has depth problems on the defensive line and in the offensive backfield. Aaron Murry should play well against our secondary, but I'm not sure the Bulldogs will be able to establish much of a running game against the Rebs. I do think that Bolden will play well against Georgia, but will it be enough to overcome our defensive setbacks?
at FRESNO STATE - PUSH (52%)
The Rebels, as one of the worst teams in the SEC, scored 55 on Fresno State last season. I don't think the Rebels will have trouble scoring on these Bulldogs (how many of them must we play?) again this season, but I think that travelling two time zones away will significantly impact this team. I just cannot for the life of me remember a Rebel football team that has played very well when travelling very far.
ALABAMA - LIKELY LOSS (25%)
Twenty-five percent is generous. Alabama is likely to be the number one team in the country by the time this game rolls around, and I doubt they relenquish that #1 spot after a game in Oxford. The Tide's defense will be stout, and their offense will be good enough to keep them from losing, which is exactly how Nick Saban likes it.
ARKANSAS - PROBABLE LOSS (40%)
I feel about as well about the Arkansas game as I do the LSU and Mississippi State games. That is, considering how "in it" the Rebels were for each of these games last season, I expect 2011's contests to be similarly close. I do not think the Rebel defense will be enough to keep any of these teams' offenses at bay this season, just as I feel that the Rebel offense will, once again, keep these games interesting well into their respective second halves. Considering what Arkansas lost on offense, I'd say this will be the Rebels' best shot at an SEC West win outside of Auburn.
at AUBURN - PUSH (49%)
The Rebs historically have a tough time on the plains, but this Auburn team will look nearly nothing like the BCS champion Auburn squad from 2010. Defensively, the Tigers will be hanging out with our Rebels and Vanderbilt towards the bottom of the conference, while on offense they'll be relying on a green offensive line to protect an even greener quarterback.
at KENTUCKY - PUSH (55%)
Randall Cobb doesn't play there anymore and their head coach's name is Joker. That's pretty much all I know about Kentucky as of right now.
LOUISIANA TECH - LIKELY WIN (95%)
Ole Miss' annual late-season snoozefest/blowout of a Sun Belt or CUSA team should see Brandon Bolden rack up 200 yards and a pair of scores in front of ~30k fans. It'll probably rain that day too.
LSU - PROBABLE LOSS (38%)
LSU's going to be a tough out for everyone this year. I think their defense should be pretty stout, and Jordan Jefferson's 11th year of eligibility should serve him well as a signalcaller, meaning he'll be somewhat better than serviceable this fall. Houston Nutt does have a way with Les Miles coached clubs, as he is rarely out of any of them, but I really do believe that LSU will be the toughest opponent we're facing outside of Alabama.
at MISSISSIPPI STATE - PROBABLE LOSS (39%)
The Rebels, even when playing well, rarely win in Starkville. It will take a steady offensive output coupled with a pretty impressive set of defensive stops to keep the red and blue in the endzone while keeping the marron and white out of it. Of course, this is the final game of both the Rebs' and the Dawgz' (/rattle) seasons, meaning that a lot will most certainly have changed between early September and late November.
Since the preceding probabilities are, once again, purely guesses, I'd like to know where you agree or disagree. Let us know in the comments threads how you feel about any or all of these games, and maybe we at the Cup can reach a consensus on just how winnable some of the games on the Rebel schedule are.