Twitter follower Ceedubya2 has predicted a 15-12 Ole Miss win over No. 2 Alabama this weekend.
I can't say that I've got his back on that one. There's a lot of wishing and wanting in there.
Yes, David beats Goliath some of the time, but this one is more like David against Goliath and Goliath's second cousin at the same time. It will be the same when Ole Miss faces LSU later this season. It looks like Alabama and LSU are the two elite teams in the league.
I thought the point spread was worth mentioning this week, odds-makers giving Alabama an edge of 25.5 points, in some quarters 26. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said the spread was larger in 2008 when the Rebels went to Gainesville and won 31-30 over then-No. 4 Florida, which went on to win the national championship.
So there is precedent for a monumental upset, and maybe Ceedubya2 and others who have the vision will be correct.
The vision I have is of an Ole Miss team that is improving, one that could benefit from the jolt of confidence it received in a 38-28 win at Fresno State. Yes, the win lost a little luster a week later when Boise hammered Fresno 57-7, but the win was the Rebels' first against an FBS foe this season. They played well on offense and played better on defense as the game went on.
I'm thinking the Rebels come out and play hard, play inspired and keep it close for while but are ultimately worn down by what Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee calls an NFL defense and by the best running game in the SEC.
Nutt emphasized physical play for his offensive and defensive lines last week, and that's a good thing, since the Rebels can use a dose of physical on both sides. I'm just not sure physical is a switch you can flip in the middle of the season. I think it's a mindset and a personality that develop over time. We'll see.
The Rebels gave up a 124 rushing yards to Fresno's Robbie Rouse, and tackle-breaking
Trent Richardson outweighs Rouse by 39 pounds. Beyond the BYU game, Ole Miss has struggled to stop the run, giving up 193 yards a game on the ground this season.
The biggest concern for Ole Miss, however, will be Randall Mackey making only his second college start, his first in the SEC, against a defense that has taken deception to an art form. Alabama is very adept at disguising its coverages and blitz packages, and Mackey just doesn't have a lot of experience in making reads and decisions.
The Rebels showed some spunk on offense at Fresno, a good start on the road to recovery from some dismal performances earlier this season.
But Alabama has shut down better SEC offenses, and it's hard for me to imagine the Tide giving up many points in this one.
And the running game will give Alabama a big edge.
Prediction: Alabama 35, Ole Miss 7