Winner, winner chicken dinner — the Rebels and the picker went 9-3

One of the things that’s always amazed me about the blog is the passion and the various rationales people have for picking games.

Some people get mad when I pick against the Rebels. At the end of the day it’s a guess, but I try to make it a good one.

We pick 12 games each Saturday in the Journal. Sometimes I’ve done well there, sometimes not. I always hope I’m on the money with the Ole Miss pick.

This regular season the Rebels and I have the same record. They went 9-3 playing the game, I went 9-3 picking it.

We didn’t lose the same games.

In the weekly prediction posts I lost games when I picked Alabama to beat the Rebels and when I picked the Rebels to beat both LSU and Auburn.

I had more faith picking Ole Miss to win games this season. That was based on the consistency of the defense as the season unfolded.

I correctly guessed a loss at Arkansas – though I didn’t see a 30-0 shutout coming – and a win against Mississippi State.

In the summer we do a schedule analysis for the season that appears in our college football special section.

I had the Rebels going 9-3 there too, but back in early August I had the losses coming against Alabama, LSU and Auburn.

I won’t try to claim any credit for the LSU and Auburn games now. Through twists and turns the season takes on a different look.

LSU had been limping around a bit and was just beginning to find itself when Ole Miss played there in late October. The Rebels likely would have pulled out a win had they not lost Laremy Tunsil in the second half.

I thought Ole Miss would bounce back against Auburn. The Rebels were an inch or so from doing just that. You know how that ended, and it was different from what I thought back in August.

Anyway, here’s the summer column that had the Rebels going 9-3:

Aug. 28, Boise State, Atlanta: Boise is returning a quarterback but will have a mostly new offensive line and a new head coach. The Broncos are trying to improve a defense that gave up a lot of yards if not always points a year ago. This is a mid-major, but the name speaks for itself. Winner: Ole Miss

Sept. 6, at Vanderbilt: The game will be played in the Titans Stadium, which means Ole Miss could outdraw the Commodores. Vanderbilt will have a new quarterback and a new coach, but a new defensive scheme – the 3-4 – could be trouble for an Ole Miss offensive line with two new starters. Winner: Ole Miss

Sept. 13, La.-Lafayette: Mark Hudspeth has built the Cajuns into the Sun Belt’s dominant program, and they will have an explosive, experienced dual threat quarterback in Terrance Broadway. This game will not be easy. Winner: Ole Miss

Sept. 27, Memphis: The Tigers return nine starters on offense, eight on defense from a 3-9 team that improved in 2013. More improvement will be necessary for Memphis to win this game. Winner: Ole Miss

Oct. 4, Alabama: The Crimson Tide visits Oxford for the first time in the Hugh Freeze Era. These teams are closer than they’ve been recently. Freeze is proud of the depth of his team, but Alabama has more. Winner: Alabama

Oct. 11, at Texas A&M: Ole Miss makes its first SEC trip to College Station. The Rebels were twice been tantalizingly close to beating the Aggies when they had Johnny Football and will get over the hump when they don’t. Winner: Ole Miss

Oct. 18, Tennessee: This is homecoming at Vaught-Hemingway. The Vols are recruiting well and improving under Butch Jones, but the Rebels will be more settled at quarterback. Winner: Ole Miss

Oct. 25, at LSU: The Tigers have to replace a lot of talent and experience at their skill positions on offense. Defense should make up for that in a game that will feature a little extra motivation from LSU. The Tigers felt like they let one get away in Oxford last year. Winner: LSU

Nov. 1, Auburn: The Rebels were not able to slow Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall on the Plains, and Marshall will give them trouble in Oxford too. Winner: Auburn

Nov. 8, Presbyterian: Coming after LSU and Auburn, it’s a good time to have these guys on the schedule, a chance to rest some players and follow that with an open date. Winner: Ole Miss

Nov. 22, at Arkansas: This is a trap game, and the Rebels will have to be careful. Though winless in the SEC last season, Arkansas was better at the end. Winner: Ole Miss

Nov. 29, Mississippi State: While LSU will be more motivated to face Ole Miss, multiply that when the state rival gets to Oxford. It was Ole Miss that felt it let one get away in this game. Bo Wallace is embarrassed by his Starkville performance and eager for a shot at redemption. Winner: Ole Miss

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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