We here at the Cup have been asking a lot of questions lately. Will Damore'ea Stringfellow be a difference in the passing game? Can the transfer cornerbacks help fill the Senquez Golson void? Can Javon Patterson save the offensive line? Can anybody block Robert Nkemdiche? Can the linebackers hold up as the weak link of the defense?
Well it's time for us to stop asking questions and start answering them. So let's unveil the official Red Cup Rebellion staff predictions for the 2015 Ole Miss football season.
Each one of us submitted our own schedule predictions, which I threw into the table below. We then averaged our picks to produce the official blog prediction, which is on the far right column in red. It's straight up majority rules here -- if more than half of us blogueurs picked the Rebs to win or lose, that's how it shows up in the cumulative prediction (with a tie going to a loss). As it turns out, we're a rather optimistic bunch (imagine that) and we have the Rebs going 10-2 and landing in another New Years Six bowl.
Down below the table, each one of us explains our predictions.
(Scroll right to view the entire table.)
The Ghost of Jay Cutler: 9-3
Postseason: Gator (or TaxSlayer or whatever the fuck they call it) Bowl vs. Penn State. We'll win because fuck 'em.
The rationale is simple here: playing on the road in the SEC West is going to be very tough for everyone. Ole Miss should have a slight advantage against all of the teams making their way to Vaught-Hemingway, and should be slight dogs on the road in Tuscaloosa and Auburn. Chalk those two up as losses, and go ahead and concede the Egg Bowl (sorry) because, as we know, even good Ole Miss teams struggle in Starkville. This gives you a 9-3 season that really hits the middle of the best and worst case scenarios for the Rebels this year. A few breaks either way could give this team as many as five losses or as little as -- yes, I'm going to say it -- zero.
Postseason: Fiesta Bowl vs. Boise State. Ole Miss wins.
This is an exercise in futility, as I know I'll be proven very, very wrong either way. We know next to nothing about the quarterback situation at Ole Miss. We also don't know if the offensive line will be any better. I've heard some things out of fall camp though that have me pretty woolly. Nothing earth shattering, just that things are going well. There are several teams I think are getting too much hype this offseason (Arkansas, A&M, Florida) and some I think deserve more hype (LSU and probably State). I have to say that if I randomly happen to be correct, I'd be pretty thrilled with this outcome.
Postseason: Sugar Bowl against Baylor. Ole Miss wins the party and the game. Bobby Nkemdiche throws a going away party at the aquarium and swims with the sharks.
Believe in the Ole Miss swag and the ability to roll into Tuscaloosa and shock the nation again with an upset of Bama. [BOLD PREDICTION: a crimson high heel is thrown onto the field at Bryant Denny.] Ole Miss gets up in the rankings as high as No. 3 when they roll into the plains and the Halloween curse strikes again... AU beats OM on a punt/kick off return. OM bounces back and stacks the box to beat Arky at the Vaught, then loses by a field goal to LSU because Lesmilesian reasons. State gets up to play Egg Bowl despite a disappointing season and still loses.
Postseason: Ole Miss wins the SEC Championship -- because WHY NOT -- then loses the Playoff game (it wouldn't be a season without tremendous agony).
Before I reveal how much Kool-Aid I'm freebasing and in all the objectiveness I can muster, I believe Ole Miss has a chance to win every game. This belief rests upon the defensive line dominating, which improves the rest of the defense, and Chad Kelly and the offensive line achieving "hey, not too bad!" Of course, none of that matters if we don't get some luck (during actual play and with injuries), which hasn't been very kind to us pretty much EVER. So with the perfect storm of skill and luck that we usually never get, an exit in the playoff is a good possibility.
Postseason: Rebs win the Orange Bowl/Cotton Bowl (PLAYOFF) and win the national championship.*
*EDITOR'S WARNING: No flammable liquids or combustible materials allowed in this area
This team has been built for this 2015 run. The 2013 class provided the star power and the 14 and 15 classes have provided the depth. And EMCC provided another Rebel quarterback. But, this time, he's for real. Seriously. The defense will be bigger, faster, stronger, deeper than the 2014 one and the offense is going to be firing on all cylinders with a quarterback who can run effectively and throw the deep ball consistently. The OL is experienced and the running game will improve. The one blemish is to Auburn because I just think Gus has Hugh's number right now. And it's on the road. Once the Rebs get good and pissed off after that, they're gonna run the table and close it out with a bang. SEC title. New Year's Six bowl win. National title. This is going way out on a limb, but who cares, this is my fantasy 2015 college football world and you're just living in it. Sorry, Urban. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Postseason: Whichever one of the New Years Six Access Bowls we would get sent to (too lazy to look up which one it would be).
The schedule sets up pretty well for Ole Miss when you consider who their opponents play before they face the Rebels. Auburn has to battle with Arkansas the week before welcoming Ole Miss, Texas A&M faces Alabama just seven days before traveling to Oxford, and both LSU and Mississippi State have to go through Alabama and Arkansas in consecutive weeks before taking on the Rebels. That is huge. However, Ole Miss has to play 10 consecutive weeks before reaching their bye. I think that's why they drop that Arkansas game in early November, despite it being at home.
In my opinion, the Rebels' season will come down to how they fare in these four games: at Alabama, at Auburn, Arkansas and at MSU (I think they take care of business otherwise). Is 3-1 in those games possible? Sure. But it's just as possible as 1-3. It should be one wild year.
Postseason: NY6 bowl again, which we'll hopefully show up and win.
Ole Miss has every chance to win the SEC West this year. They have as much returning experience and as much top-end talent as anyone, and if you believe in Chad Kelly, then everything else is in place for a conference title run. That said, it's hard to predict something that's never happened before. From an Ole Miss fan's perspective, it's really hard to know what an SEC West title team looks like. Winning at Alabama would ramp up my enthusiasm to full OM Spirit levels, but until I see that, I'll have to offer an optimistic but realistic prediction of 10-2.
Postseason: Gator Bowl.
The road will be unkind for the Rebels with an unseasoned quarterback and they'll rely too heavily on defense to win every game.
Postseason: The Rebs return to the Peach Bowl and beat Florida State, setting up the mother of all season openers in 2016.
Ole Miss hadn't toppled Bama in 11 years before 2014, so expecting them to do it twice in two seasons (in Tuscaloosa, no less) is just downright unrealistic. I do, however, have the Rebs going into Auburn and avenging last season's oh-my-god-you-could-have-just-water-tortured-me loss. But the stretch run is brutal (five SEC West teams in six weeks). I think the Razorbacks' power run game is a mismatch for the Rebs lightening fast but undersized defensive front and we'll lost to State just be-fucking-cause.
Postseason: Win the SEC Championship then lose to Ohio State in the Playoff.
I might be the most optimistic of the lot, but I do agree with most that Tuscaloosa will be a firing squad experience if ever there were. That said, an early season loss to a top-five ranked Bama team won't hurt too much down the stretch. Think of Florida's 2008 run, when they lost early to, ahem, Ole Miss and then Tebow'd their way to a title. I don't expect Swag to pull a Cam or Jameis in his first year, but there's enough around him and on the other side of the ball to carry this team through the September-October brutality. In this thinking of the season, if it isn't already in the shitter after the Arkansas game, the LSU matchup, like 2003, will be the game of the season. In this fantastical telling of the 2015 season, the University of Ole Miss lands a CFB Playoff berth after slaughtering Tennessee in Atlanta, only to lose to Urban fucking Meyer in the round of four.
What do y'all think? Make your prediction in the poll and explain it in the comments.