Last Saturday's postgame exchange between Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and Rivals reporter Neal McCready was a reminder that people take these prediction columns seriously.
Well, there aren't a lot of different scenarios left to predict for Ole Miss football right now. At the edge of November, you are what you are.
There can be marginal improvement at this time of year, and coaches believe they're getting better on the offensive line and at quarterback, where Randall Mackey is getting more and more snaps under his belt.
The overwhelming majority of improvement, however, takes place in the off-season and preseason through training, recruiting, development, possible position changes, etc.
As Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.”
Some things the record doesn't say, like the amount of fight remaining in a team in the midst of a difficult season. There was fight in the Rebels last week. It's hard to predict fight, though, and sometimes you get one of those head-scratcher games like last year at Tennessee when the Rebels lost 52-14 or earlier this year at Vanderbilt, a 30-7 defeat.
I predict fight for the Rebels at Auburn.
The record speaks more clearly on other matters, however, like run defense. Ole Miss is giving up 222.86 yards a game on the ground. Only five major college football teams are allowing more.
Auburn comes in as the SEC's No. 4 rushing team at 183.25 yards a game. That's good. It's isn't Alabama good, but Auburn will have one of the league's top backs in sophomore Michael Dyer.
Last week Arkansas back Dennis Johnson proved you can be good, not outstanding, and still have an outstanding day against the Rebels.
By the numbers, the Rebels are also No. 16 in the nation in gaining yards at 268.71 yards a game. There is better chance for late improvement here. In fact, some of that improvement was shown in the first half against Arkansas, more than was shown by the run defense.
It appears that Brandon Bolden is healthier. Many times last week he and Jeff Scott were in the game at the same time. Mackey is becoming more experienced and settled, and most importantly, it looks like there's a confidence level developing for the offensive line.
Those things could add up to sustained drives against an Auburn defense that is also susceptible to the run.
The Rebels have been pretty good in pass defense. Auburn has struggled throwing the ball and has had a quarterback change. That may just mean that Auburn runs the ball more.
Ultimately the Parcells quote matters, and I've not seen enough from the Rebels' run defense to expect dramatic improvement there.
Prediction: Auburn 27, Ole Miss 20