Did you think it would never get here? We are just a few days away from August which means fall camp cannot be far behind. And with it comes all the wild-blindfolded-dart-throwing predictions. You didn't think RBR would be left out of that party, did you?
This year is going to be so difficult to predict since there seem to be so many unknowns throughout the SEC but we can't do any worse than the experts.
The first installment goes to the Bo-less Ackbars of Oxford, MS.
Coach: Hugh Freeze (24–15 in three season at Ole Miss; 11–13 in SEC)
2014 record: 9-4 (5-3 in SEC, 3rd in West Division)
CB969 2014 Prediction: 8-5 - "The Rebs depend on a lot of young players to be their starters and leaders. We'll see if they have grown up enough."
Look back: After rising to #3 in the nation while winning their first seven games including Boise, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Tennessee, the Rebels lost four of their final six.
Key losses: CB Senquez Golson (Steelers, Round 2), FS Cody Prewitt, MLB Deterrian Shackelford, LB Serderius Bryant, QB "Good" Bo Wallace (but not "Bad" Bo Wallace).
Returning starters: 10 on offense, 8 on defense, kicker, and punter.*
Top returnees: DT Robert Nkemdiche, S Tony Conner, WR Laquon Treadwell (?), TE Evan Engram, OT Laremy Tunsil (?)
Top newcomers: WR Damarkus Lodge, OG Javon Patterson, DT D.J. Jones (East Mississippi C.C.).
Strengths: Starting experience; weak schedule.
Weaknesses: Overall depth; QBs.
Outlook: The members of the vaunted recruiting class of 2013 are now juniors and some of them are third year starters but there is not a lot of depth. The Rebs have some holes to fill at linebacker and in the secondary. The "Good Bo" vs. "Bad Bo" soap opera is over but who will quarterback this team? Ryan Buchanan looked to have a slight lead on fellow sophomore DeVante Kincade but it's problem child Chad Kelly who likely gets the nod. Whoever wins out gets a full offensive line returning intact. This could be a defining season for Freeze's tenure is Oxford.
Sept. 5 UT Martin - W
Sept. 12 Fresno State - W - Did Hughie not get the memo about scheduling Power 5 teams?
Sept. 19 at Alabama - L - Nick Saban is 9-1 in "revenge game" at Bama.
Sept. 26 Vanderbilt - W
Oct. 3 at Florida - W - Tough to win in the Swamp but the Gators are rebuilding.
Oct. 10 New Mexico State - W - Worst.FBS.Team.Ever.
Oct. 17 at Memphis - W - The ascending Tigers gave the Rebels a scare last year.
Oct. 24 Texas A&M - W
Oct. 31 at Auburn - L - Things get real here. Probably a loss or two down the stretch.
Nov. 7 Arkansas - W - Home sweet home should aid Ole Miss but it could go either way.
Nov. 14 bye
Nov. 21 LSU - W - Again, the friendly confines should help but this one'll be a tussle.
Nov. 28 at Mississippi State - W - If the Rebs can stay healthy, they should be able to get past the MSU at this point in the season.
Let's go Bowling! Yes, likely a big one but not playoff big.
Did I just give the Rebel Black Bear Ackbar Mannings 10 wins? Having a downy soft non-conference schedule and Vandy as the permanent crossover helps. Exhibition season ends for Ole Miss on the Plains on Halloween, so it could easily be an eight or nine win season.
* Fun Fact: Ole Miss has 12 seniors projected as starters and 4 or 5 junior starters (see "Top returnees" above) who likely turn pro after this season.