A couple of weeks ago, I asked y'all to complete a twelve question survey. Each question of the survey corresponded to one of Ole Miss' regular season opponents, with five possible answers available for each designed to capture how confident you as a fan felt about each of Ole Miss' upcoming football contests. Your options for each question were simple: certain loss, probable loss, virtual tie (50/50, can't make up your mind, etc.), probable win, and certain win.
Over 1,000 of y'all voted, which helped paint a robust albeit imperfect picture of what our expectations are as a fan base for 2014. Here are the results of the poll both in raw numbers and in percentage.
|Certain LOSS||Probable LOSS||Virtual Tie||Probable WIN||Certain WIN|
Except for cupcakes, we aren't certain about very much it seems, even though we're generally pretty bullish on the Rebels for the upcoming season. Horray, offseason optimism!
Now, let's take those numbers and apply them to something more aesthetically pleasing. For each game, I've created a pie chart to demonstrate, in a very general sense, just how confident Rebel fans are regarding each contest. The percentages used in the charts are obviously from the above table, with the colors being coordinated as follows: dark blue represents "certain loss," light blue represents "probable loss," gray is for "virtual tie," pink is your "probable win" and red is everything else, or "certain win."
All of the pie charts can be clicked to embiggen. They're not labeled themselves for two reasons: to avoid clutter, and to offer an initial impression that tries to capture the general mood about a game. The "redder" it appears on first glance, the more confident Rebel fans are, and vice versa for the "bluer" it appears. If it appears awfully gray, then we're not really sure how to feel.
So, in order, here's a season's worth of delicious confidence pie charts.
Lotta pink there for Boise State. If this week's festivities thus far are any indicator, Rebel fans are pretty confident in their team's chances against a program which has become probably the most famous underdog of a college football program in the past decade. The team's No. 18 ranking, Boise's disappointing season last year, and the game being on a neutral site - but in SEC territory - probably adds to this confidence. Boise will be far away from home, and conceivably quite overmatched by an SEC team playing with a virtual home field.
The red is growing. A week later, Ole Miss plays Vanderbilt in LP Field. Vandy has been a thorn in the Rebs' side over the past several seasons, with Ole Miss earning a nailbiter of a win against the 'Dores to open the season last year in Nashville. But without James Franklin and seemingly every talented player from the past few seasons of success, Vandy's bound to struggle this season.
Yes, they're picked to win the Sun Belt, but it's still the Sun Belt. Louisiana-Lafayette simply doesn't worry the Rebs. That might be a bit misguided, given Mark Hudspeth's successes with the Ragin' Cajuns (he is 27-12 over the past three seasons, winning a Sun Belt title in 2013). They'll be a plucky, tough, and well prepared. Even then, one would have to presume that the Southeastern Conference team in this contest can simply out talent the opponent, which seems to be the same line of thinking for Ole Miss fans.
Memphis is back on the schedule. Ole Miss fans aren't worried about Memphis. I mean, even Ed Orgeron coached teams could beat the Tigers. That, and Memphis football has been nothing short of a disaster since the departure of Tommy West.
That's where all the blue went! Alabama is the only team that a majority of Ole Miss fans voted as a loss in this poll. Even more telling is how less than 10% of Rebels picked this one to be a win of any sort. Presuming the first four pie charts are accurate predictors of things to come, Ole Miss will reasonably be 4-0 before facing Alabama in the sixth week of the 2014 college football season. Perhaps the momentum of early success and an almost guaranteed top-15 placement in the polls could give the Rebels the confidence to pull off this most unlikely upset.
That, or Ole Miss could lose to Alabama for the 11th time running. That too could happen.
For the Aggies' first two years in the SEC, they played the Rebels incredibly close in Oxford, needing Johnny Manziel's last second heroics to set Texas A&M up with narrow victories. The game's not in Oxford, but even then the idea of a Manziel-less Texas A&M team has Rebel fans feeling largely confident, with a sizeable portion of the fan base considering the game a virtual tossup at this point.
Pardon the cliche, but this game has "trap" written all over it. That said, Tennessee is going to struggle against SEC competition this year, but it's remarkable to see just how confident Ole Miss fans are in a win over the Vols. Or, maybe it's not when you compare the numbers for Tennessee to those of Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
This is the one game where a(n ever so slight) majority of those polled chose it to be a virtual tie. Even more interestingly is how those who don't see this one as a tossup are almost as likely to see it end up as a narrow loss as they are a narrow victory. Is this a result of last year's Rebels' upset win over then-No. 6 LSU? Is it the product of wishful thinking? Is it the product of legitimate uncertainty?
After Alabama, the Auburn game's matchup is the one about which Ole Miss fans are the least confident. Roughly 40% of voters chose this game to be a virtual tossup, with another 40% voting it as some sort of loss.
Imagine that. Ole Miss fans aren't worried about the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Also,the 18 of you who voted this game as anything other than a win of some sort need to quit being such jokesters. Surveys are serious business, y'all.
On the one hand, this isn't surprising. Arkansas struggled in most games last year, and aren't as talented as they need to be for other SEC fans to be all that uncertain about their chances against the Hogs. On the other hand, this game, being in Arkansas and against a team Ole Miss has trouble putting away even when they're not good, does have a bit of a trap quality to it.
Roughly one percentage point's worth of those polled see the Egg Bowl as being a loss while seeing the Arkansas game as a win. The results here suggest that Ole Miss fans generally feel that both of these are likely wins, but are less confident in the Rebels chances against Mississippi State in Oxford than they are in their chances against Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Thanks for everyone who participated in the poll. I had fun putting together the numbers and charts, and I hope they accurately tell the story of what our fans expect out of the Rebel football team this fall.