One national service has Florida State No.1 in the nation; another has the Noles in the top five and yet another has them sixth.
In any event, this is going to be one of the most challenging contests for the Rebels this season, if not the most difficult. For every Ole Miss fan cheering the Rebs on, there will be three or four more yelling for Florida State! And we are told it’s a neutral site. Right, yea….just like facing Bama in Birmingham. Gimme a break.
Now let’s look at the opponent. Their strength is definitely on the defensive side of the ball. Although, we may not see the team at full strength due to some injuries, their defensive line is as good as we’ll see all year, maybe even better than the Tide. Some names to keep in mind are safety Derwin James; defensive tackles Demarcus Christmas and Darvin Taylor; defensive end DeMarcus Walker; NG Derrick Nnadi; and the “Buck position” Josh Sweat. Make no mistake that this defense will test our offense. We’ll have to establish a running game early if we’re going to take advantage of our exceptional passing threats.
Junior running back Dalvin Cook is being previewed as a strong contender for the Heisman. Our linebackers and defensive line will be severely tested by this running machine. FSU should start four seniors, four juniors and three sophomores on offense…a well-balanced attack from the experience perspective. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s biggest concern comes with Chad Kelly’s counterpart. Either senior Sean Maguire or freshman Deondre Francois. Anytime a freshman is pushing a senior in fall practice at the quarterback position, not good. If the Rebs are to prevail in this marquee matchup, Kelly will need to outshine his FSU competitor overwhelmingly. If the game plays out similar to what happened last year in Gainesville, it is going to be a long night.
Now for our prediction and forecast. Ole Miss will be able to run the ball, but it won’t come easy. In fact, Kelly could easily be the top rusher when the game ends. It will be an interesting comparison between Kelly and Cook re rushing attempts/yards. If Cook goes wild, chalk up an “L”. I believe, however, that our defensive ends will shine! And this could be the primary storyline of the game.
On the other side of the board, our passing game will likely make the difference. We may not know how really good we are…FSU will certainly let us know. The Noles’ offense is going to have first game jitters, even playing before an approving audience. I expect the Rebel secondary to come up with some big catches as in interceptions.
With each Ole Miss game, we’ll ask the famous Rebel placekicker, Hoppy Langley, his point of view:
Hoppy’s Inside Look
Vassallo: Hoppy, Vegas has the Noles by seven. Your thoughts?
Hoppy: Although we’re young on both sides of the ball, the talent is definitely there. Mistakes are going to be made by both teams, however, the offenses are always more susceptible as defenses rely on raw talent and athleticism. The quarterback position gives us a clear edge in this regard. I am predicting a Rebel victory.
Our final score: Ole Miss 28 – FSU 17
Book it Dano. The preseason forecasters will be re-assessing their rankings after the Ole Miss Rebels and Coach Freeze get even in the Sunshine State!
Here is a look at the SEC season before the opening games for the first five days of September:
FOOTNOTE: After going to print we learned that FSU Quarterback Sean Maguire is out for the game. This should enhance the Rebels’ chances for victory dramatically as the redshirt freshman will now be directing the offense.
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 985-852-7745.