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Football’s approaching at the end of a long journey

For a football fan, getting to late July is a little like being the guy on Christopher Columbus’ ship who spotted land in the distance. We still have some sailing to do before we get to the good stuff, but the long voyage across the stagnant summer sea is nearly over.

College conferences have had their media days. NFL training camps are opening this week and fantasy football mock drafts are keeping people occupied. High school practice in Mississippi is about 10 days away from starting, and we’re less than a month from the Red Carpet Bowl.

It’s a magical time of year, when we begin to dream of the possibilities. Since it’s never to early to talk about football — and since we are still at sea, so to speak — here are a few predictions for the upcoming season:

• Mississippi’s “Big Three” college programs — Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss — will all play in a bowl game. There are 80 spots and approximately 125 Division I teams. The math is in their favor.

• LSU will not reach its SEC showdown against Florida on Oct. 12 without at least one loss. The Tigers have a sneakily difficult schedule early on that could lead to a surprising loss. In addition to a road game at Texas, they play Georgia Southern and Utah State — both 10-win bowl teams — at home.

LSU should still win the latter two, but there will be some undeserved grumbling from the fan base when the scores are closer than many expect.

• Speaking of good teams who have hard schedules, Warren Central will have to put in some work to make the playoffs. Region 2-6A is beefed up with the addition of South Panola and Germantown, and a non-region schedule that includes state powers Holmes County Central, Pearl and Brandon will be very difficult to navigate.

The Vikings’ opponents had a combined .596 winning percentage in 2018. Much like last season, a handful of plays in a few games will be the difference between an average season and a good one.

• Saints fans will continue to complain about last year’s NFC championship game, even if they win the Super Bowl this year.

• Remember that we are actually only 22 days away from the start of the high school season. Porter’s Chapel Academy begins a week early, at home against Benton Academy on Aug. 16, because of some scheduling quirks.
Three weeks to go.
Football, ho!

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of the Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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