2014 Predictions

Every season, I make predictions that never seem to pan out, but that doesn't stop me from pulling predictions from my cloudy crystal ball. Maybe I need to fix the reception in this thing.

This could be the year I nail it. I have a great feeling about this season. It's either that or I'm just trying to convince myself at this point. Anyway, here are three things I think could happen in the 2014 football season.

The Rebels become an FBS playoff team in the first year of the playoff.

It might sound crazy, but the University of Mississippi could get into the playoff if things break its way. The Rebels certainly have the talent to make a run, and several of the big boys are in rebuilding mode because they are busy breaking in new quarterbacks.

The good news is that UM gets Alabama and Auburn at home. Bad news: The Rebels must travel to LSU and Texas A&M. There is little room for error, and two losses could mean an abrupt end of UM's post-season hopes.

That means the Rebels can afford to lose only one game against Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M. If UM can stay perfect at home and then break even on its two biggest road games, which is possible, it would make the playoffs.

Things get better for UM if it wins the SEC title game (if it makes it that far) because the winner of the SEC title game, most years, is going to get in the playoff. If the Rebels tie but don't make the playoff, then they should get in the SEC title game no matter what happens.

You could also make the case for Mississippi State in this spot. I think the Bulldogs are a year or two away, but, like the University of Mississippi, if the ball always bounces the right way, anything can happen.

I believe the Rebels are poised for a breakthrough season. They will continue to be the dark horse as long as they don't lose to a team they should beat like they did to Mississippi State last season.

Alcorn State will win the SWAC championship.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to Alcorn State fans after last season, especially with their schedule and the players they have returning this season.

Alcorn State gets the top SWAC teams—Southern, Alabama State, Arkansas Pine-Bluff and Jackson State—at home. A road trip to Prairie View A&M and potential trap game at Mississippi Valley State look like the biggest danger on the conference slate. The team can't overlook some weaker teams on the schedule if it wants to win the title. Alcorn must stay focused against Alabama A&M and Grambling State, two teams picked to struggle this year in the SWAC, if it is going to win a championship.

I also wouldn't be surprised if Alcorn needs to beat main rival Jackson State in back-to-back seasons to punch its title-game ticket. Keep a close eye on Alcorn State this season because I think we're in for something special.

Delta State and Millsaps make the playoff.

This is a gut-feeling more than anything. I really think Delta State makes the Division II playoffs and Millsaps will make the Division III.

Millsaps has been knocking on the door to the playoffs for the last two seasons. The Southern Athletic Association finally gets an automatic bid into the D-III playoffs this season so the Majors won't need an at-large bid.

The Majors have the ability to make the playoffs and go undefeated this season. A loss wouldn't surprise me, but more than two would be shocking.

Delta State hit a rough patch but looks to be trending back upward. The Statesmen have been one of the toughest Division II teams historically. This season could be another year to "Fear the Okra" in Cleveland.

The Statesmen play in the very competitive Gulf South Conference, but they have enough returning talent to get through the minefield. Delta State looks ready to build on last year's rebound record.

If I am badly wrong, I will have to remember next year that some gut-feelings are just indigestion.

Comment with your wild predictions at jfp.ms/sports or tweet @jfpsports.


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