As has been mandated by the higher-ups around here (Did you know we have a management structure? Neither did I) I present you with a season preview that I swear did not come cut and paste from Bleacher Report. Scout's honor. Some of our blo-leagues* have been fairly thorough, down to predicting every game on every team's schedule. I will not be so foolish. I prefer the inaptly named "Bold Predictions" format. And that's what you're going to get. So, to preview the 2010 season, here are ten unreasonably specific predictions.
#1: Our front seven will ding up Ryan Mallett, but it won't be serious enough to knock him out of the game.
Though he will not have to break out that pimped-up roller scooter, we're going to beat Number 15 like the family arm. After picking us apart over the middle for the entire first quarter, Tyrone will send Mike Marry in there to put that skank on the ground.
#2: The Rebels and Razorbacks will play on CBS.
While Alabama is playing a two-win Tennessee team and a pair of two-loss Tigers are doing battle in Baton Rouge, the premier SEC showdown will be between Arkansas, ranked in the Top 10 after beating Alabama, and the once-beaten Rebels, who fell back out of the Top 25 after losing to the Tide.
#3: Nathan Stanley goes "man on a mission" against Jacksonville State.
"Strategy" is not the first word that comes to most folks minds when describing the behavioral patterns of Houston Nutt. Consequently, would it surprise any of you if Coach Nutt feels, right along with Nathan Stanley, that even lowly Jacksonville State is a "statement" game? I'm sure that the Gamecocks' head coach, Jim Crow**, is a perfectly nice guy that no one would normally want to embarrass. But I'm 'bout ready for the Rebels to demoralize someone, so I'm sure Stanley is in a similar place, emotionally and all.
#4: Kentrell Lockett's going to be fine.
Whatever it is, he's got it. I'd bet money on OleForty.
#5: Fresno State will lose in Oxford.
The Bulldogs, you may know, have lost to both SEC teams they have faced in this, the most successful decade in the existence of their football program. Those losses came in LSU's 2006 BCS at-large season and in a pedestrian 8-5 season for Tennessee in 2002. Otherwise, the "giant killers" are 11-17 in road or bowl games against BCS opponents, including lower-tier bowl wins over 6 and 7 win UCLA, Virginia, and Georgia Tech squads. Truth is, Fresno's bark is worse than their bite, usually.
#6: We're in for an ugly Alabama beating.
These come around every few years. In 2002, the Tide gave us the 42-7 what-for. In 2004, we were quickly disabused (to the tune of a 28-7 game that was way worse than the final score) that the post-Manning era was going to be okay for us. I'm not saying that post-McCluster is going to be post-Manning, but for one weekend in October, it's going to feel that way.
#7: Brandon Bolden will rush for more than 1,000 yards.
#34 showed too much promise his freshman season to decide that he has not excitement left up his sleeve. What with the improved run-blocking we have heard about from practice reports, I expect to tell Kirk Herbstreit that his Bolden praise is coming too little, too late.
#8: Jerrell Powe will win the Conerly Trophy.
The media loves Jerrell Powe. His pictures and his quotes indicate to those of us that do not know him, personally, that he has a dynamic personality. The preconceived notions about him tend to melt away once journalists meet him. And since journalists, primarily, are the voters for the Conerly Trophy, being gregarious is an important component. Powe will have the on-field credentials. And under the current system, where two players from the same school do not siphon votes off one another (a la Anthony Dixon/Titus Brown in 2007 or Michael Oher/Peria Jerry in 2008), the best football player from either State or Ole Miss will win this award ad infinitum. Jerrell Powe is the best football player in Mississippi in 2010.
#9: No wide receiver will have a break-out season.
This is the preseason hype that I am not buying. Though we hear rumblings of Melvin Harris' development into a "contributor," that's far away from "go to guy." If any receiver on our team sniffs 700 yards, though, I think you can go ahead and assume that we have won 7+ games.
#10: Nash-Vegas for New Year's!
Let me go ahead and start the lobbying effort, Music City Bowl. The Rebels have two things going for them as your prime selection for 2010:
- What with our recent dust-up with the NCAA, most Rebels fans are looking to be pretty excited about seven wins. We know our role. This is our transitional re-building year, so don't worry that we'll have Cotton Bowl hangover, unwilling to buy your tickets. Just the opposite. Go ahead and give us all those ticks that whichever team (that had been in the hunt for the ACC title on Thanksgiving but was relegated to your bowl) doesn't sell out their allotment. We will buy, buy, buy because ...
- We love Nashville! Especially when our next best option is Memphis! Don't underestimate our flannel-wearing hipster football fan crowd that would eat up a road trip to Nashville. We will stand in that Pancake Pantry line around the corner. We'll pack out Tootsie's and give some starving country music artist a hearty Hotty Toddy. Don't let Kentucky and Vanderbilt convince you that all SEC fan bases are created equal. If you want the party to go down, give us a call. Otherwise, we'll be in Orange Mound, wondering why you're stadium was half-full.
So, that's it. I'm still predicting 6 or 7 wins. If by some miracle we win the first appeal in the history of NCAA, I still don't think Masoli raises our baseline of wins. I think we will win those first five because we have a good defense and a good running game. Then, I think we can win two more down the stretch. Then, we can all have fun in Nashville.
**Not his real name; would be ironic, though.