Sideline View by Dale McKee

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Congratulations to the Mississippi State Bulldogs for winning their Super Regional and their 11th trip to the College World Series. Though I know the outcome of Mississippi State’s Super Regional series against Stanford, I will have to wait a day for the results of the Ole Miss series winner with Arkansas since I write this column for my dozen media outlets on Sunday night. Hopefully, the Rebels will be making their fifth trip to Omaha. Could this be another Mississippi Mayhew as the Sports Illustrated cover shouted in October 2014 when the eyes of the football world were on the two Mississippi schools as they made the national cover of SI after upset football wins over Texas A&M and Alabama.

Major League Baseball saw the talent level Mississippi has in their sport. All of us in Mississippi are very proud of our boys of summer as 34 Mississippians were chosen in last week’s MLB draft. Twenty-seven college players’ and seven high school players’ names were called by the professional organizations. Mississippi State’s All-American hurler Ethan Small was the first from the Magnolia State to hear his name call as he was chosen 28th overall in the opening round by the Milwaukee Braves. In the 2018 MLB draft, Small was drafted in the 26th round as the 789th overall pick. Southern Mississippi All-American outfielder Matt Wallner was chosen by the Minnesota Twins with the 39th overall selection. Wallner is a native of the state with 10,000 lakes. Grae Kessinger of Ole Miss was the first Rebel chosen in the second round by the Houston Astros. In all, MSU had 11 players taken in the draft, Ole Miss had eight selections, and USM had two players. The New York Mets for the second consecutive year drafted MSU three-time All-American Jake Mangum. Last year, the Mets drafted him in the 30th round, but this year they grabbed him in the fourth round, so not turning pro last year might have benefitted the SEC Player of the Year.

Southern Mississippi Football Schedule

In our last column, we discussed the schedule outlook for the 2019 Ole Miss Rebels. This week, we take a look at the USM Golden Eagles’ slate. Next week, we will dissect the MSU football schedule.

The University of Southern Mississippi football schedule is shaping up as one that has the potential for the Golden Eagles to have an outstanding year. Head coach Jay Hopson brings back a very experienced defense that returns most of last year’s key players. The offense is led by junior Jack Abraham and will be vastly improved over last year’s inexperienced unit that struggled at various times.

The schedule is divided into the three categories: sure wins, sure losses and games that could go either way. The Golden Eagles will be heavy favorites against Alcorn, UTEP, UAB, UTSA and Rice. The Eagles will be heavy underdogs in road games against Mississippi State and Alabama. Games that could go either way will determine if the Eagles could hit the double-digit mark in wins.

The Eagles have three home games against Western Kentucky, La. Tech and North Texas. Being able to defend their home turf will translate into eight wins. A slip up in any of those games could spell another break-even mark for the Hattiesburg crew. If the Eagles want to really strut their stuff in 2019, the key games are two road games: the game at Troy in week three and their final game of the season at Florida Atlantic. The two games will determine if the Eagles will have a banner year. Rest assured that USM will finish up between 7-5 and 9-3.

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