There was a time when you just looked at the I-AA game on the schedule, chalked it up as a win and looked ahead, but, well, you guys remember last year.
Do I think Southern Illinois wins Saturday at 5 at Vaught-Hemingway? I do not.
I also did not think Jacksonville State would win last year, regardless of the fact that Jax is very competitive at its level.
So is SIU, which is ranked 15 and 17 in the two FCS polls this week.
Ole Miss really should be able to line up and mash in this game. The Ole Miss offensive linemen outweigh the three SIU defensive linemen by an average of 66 pounds. Seems like a simple game plan, right?
Well, there are different factors in play.
Start with the fact that at least one of the Rebels' two power backs, Brandon Bolden, is out. Enrique Davis will likely be out too. If he plays it will be after a week without practice.
So the Rebels go into this one experimenting, trying to see if speed back Jeff Scott can shoulder more of a load, trying to see exactly what they have in reserve back Devin Thomas and trying to see what Korvic Neat might remember from his time with the backs.
The Rebels have a new starting quarterback in Zack Stoudt. His strength is sitting in the pocket, making reads and using a big arm. No doubt Houston Nutt and David Lee will want to see a little more from Stoudt too, a week after he was 13-for-25 for 140 yards, no touchdowns and no picks – but one costly fumble – against BYU.
Stoudt gives the Rebels the best chance to involve their heralded recruiting class, because most of that talent is at receiver.
So lining up and mashing a smaller defensive line might seem like a plan except for those factors.
Plus the fact that the Ole Miss offensive line, rated among the best in the nation by one analyst, struggled with the 3-4 look against BYU.
SIU coach Dale Lennon knows he has no size and that his linemen can't stand up and trade blows with the much bigger Ole Miss offensive linemen. There will be times Saturday when Bradley Sowell (6-7, 320) will be matched against SIU end Chad Coda (6-2, 239). Sowell has him by 81 pounds.
The Ole Miss line, though, will have to do a better job of recognizing stunts and not letting the little quick guys get through the gaps.
Defensively, the Rebels have quickness of their own, but they need more production from the ends. Kentrell Lockett had just two tackles in his first game back, Wayne Dorsey – in Game 1 of his Comeback Tour – had just one. The ends will need to make the reads on the option, stay in position and make plays.
Ultimately, the Rebels will have enough in the tank to win this game.
They need to do more than win. They need to be impressive and gain confidence.
Then next week at Vanderbilt they can show whether or not they'll have enough in the tank to press for six wins this season.
Prediction: Ole Miss 31, Southern Illinois 9