Welcome to Prediction Thursday for 2012.
What'cha got? Bring it to the table. (And other cliches.)
The Hugh Freeze Era begins Saturday night at 6 against Central Arkansas. You have to be there or order the pay-per-view if you're going to see it.
Here's what I think you will see:
First, an Ole Miss win, but here's how the Rebels will get there.
One, a running game. Even with Jeff Scott unlikely to play. The Rebels should be able to get through this game without Jeff Scott as the Ole Miss OL will out-weigh the UCA defensive front by an average of 37 pounds. The absence of Scott will be felt more next week against UTEP if he's not back to good health.
For Saturday, Randall Mackey will have a solid debut. The freshmen, I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton, will get carries too, but the staff will go easy here and make sure they've adapted to the nerves that go along with your first college game.
Freeze will name a starting quarterback later today, and the guess here says it's Bo Wallace. Wallace and Barry Brunetti will both play. Freeze has said that from the very beginning. You'll see Wallace be effective but throw one interception. Brunetti, the running quarterback, will get some things done with a package that wasn't shown during open periods of practice, another guess
There's a lot of excitement for Ole Miss football right now, the excitement that typically follows a coaching change. There has been genunine improvement in camp: the OL, the RBs, DB Louis Covington come to mind.
But the last memory of Ole Miss football in game action is not good. There are a lot of veterans who are eager to atone for this memory, and it would be a good thing for the Rebels to experience success early.
UCA is a good, solid team at its level, much like Jacksonsville State was two years ago. The Bears, 9-4 and a playoff team last year, are ranked No. 21 in FCS. They return six all-Southland Conference players, one of them wide receiver Jesse Grandy, formerly of Ole Miss. They will have a mobile quarterback, three senior running backs and an offense similar to Freeze's in terms of formations and tempo.
The Rebels need to play a solid, efficient game. That doesn't mean they have to win by three touchdowns for the game to be a success, but they need to show a good understanding of schemes. They need to be confident and in control.
At the end of the night, don't expect to have a lot of questions answered about this Ole Miss team. If they play well and win, the natural response will be, "Well, it was an FCS team."
If questions are answered the answers won't be good. It will mean that UCA has pushed the Rebels, maybe even won the game, and that rebuilding Ole Miss football is behind schedule.
Leave your predictions and analysis below.
Prediction: Ole Miss 28, UCA 14