Recently, VegasInsider.com published its SEC opening week odds and have the Wildcats as a touchdown favorite over the visiting Southern Miss Golden Eagles. Reactions to the early line varied.
A faction of the BBN was unsettled by only being favored by a score over a Conference USA opponent. Another portion was surprised that the spread was over the mandatory three to four points automatically allotted to the home team. With no current body of work to judge by; predictors lie within coaching staff continuity, previous year’s results, returning and incoming personnel, game location, and the ultra-significant factor of which team has the better quarterback. Let’s take a look:
— Coaching continuity: Gone from previous staff: Offensive Coordinator Shannon Dawson, Receiver Coach Tommy Mainard, Running Back Coach Chad Scott, Defensive Back Coach Derrick Ainsley, Outside Linebacker Coach Andy Buh.
— 2015 record: 5-7
— 2015 Common opponents: Charlotte 58-10 win, Mississippi State 16-42 loss
— 2015 quality win: None
— Worst 2015 loss: At Vanderbilt
— Best returning player: Boom Williams
— Number of returning starters: 9 Offense, 4 Defense
— 2015 result from similar opponent: Beat Louisiana Lafayette 40-33
— Athlon preseason ranking: 56
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
— Coaching continuity: New head coach and staff
— 2015 record: 9-5
— 2015 Common opponents: Charlotte 44-10 win, Mississippi State 16-34 loss
— 2015 quality win: At Louisiana Tech 56-24
— Worst 2015 loss: At Marshall 10-31
— Best returning player: Quarterback Nick Mullens
— Number of returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense
— Athlon preseason ranking: 68
In a season in which the Cats have a number of defensive line and pass rush questions, it will be going up against one of the nation’s most productive quarterbacks in 4,000-yard passer Nick Mullens. A touchdown and a half seems somewhat logical. Keeping constant with “it’s personnel not personal” theme, strip the logos off the helmets. Talent differences between the two are not overly significant.