I hesitated a little bit last week before picking Ole Miss to beat Vanderbilt 23-20.
I had seen enough question marks from Ole Miss but hadn't seen enough from Vanderbilt to make me think the Commodores had completed a dramatic turnaround of the program.
In situations like that I tend to pick local.
Now a body of work is developing, and it will be hard to pick Ole Miss again given the status quo.
Sometimes the status quo changes during a football season. There can be improvement during the season. Ole Miss in 2008 is an example of this.
Hopefully for the Rebels a change in the status quo is coming, but I don't believe it's this week, at least not enough to matter in the end.
I do believe that Ole Miss could have a very different look – a much more productive look – with just a little improvement in a few places.
First and foremost, the Rebels have to block. Just a few creases in the run game, a little more protection in the pass game. Know where you're going on the offensive line, and hit somebody. Fewer offensive linemen running back with a look of despair as a defender gets through and blows up a play.
The running backs are there. They're getting healthier. There is talent at receiver. Ja-Mes Logan and Donte Moncrief are dependable, and tight end Jamal Mosely will be too if he's utilized more.
The description of quarterback Zack Stoudt by Georgia coach Mark Richt as “capable” is on the mark. Stoudt can get things done if he's protected. Protection isn't only the responsibility of the line, of course, but it all starts up there.
Defensively, the Rebels need to get away from the big plays allowed, an alarming habit that reappeared against Southern Illinois and Vanderbilt after Ole Miss did a good job in that department against BYU.
Georgia will arrive in Oxford with the same record (1-2, 0-1 SEC), the same level of desperation and the same level of uncertainty regarding its head coach.
Richt's Bulldogs will present a strong test for the improving Ole Miss secondary in quarterback Aaron Murray, perhaps the best at his position in the SEC.
The Bulldogs will have capable running backs as well, and they'll throw to the tight end more than other Ole Miss opponents have to this point.
Defensively, Georgia will present another 3-4 alignment, which has given the Rebels some trouble. The big problem, though, has been stunts and movement and Ole Miss players deciding who to block. Any defensive coordinator from any base defense can show different fronts and move players around.
The Rebels have to get better there.
I expect to see a lot of emotion from the Rebels Saturday, a lot of desire.
I'm just not sure I'll see a different result.
Prediction: Georgia 27, Ole Miss 13