Sixteen-time world heavyweight champ Ric Flair has made some bold predictions in the past.

But this one just might be his most outlandish.

“They’ll probably go undefeated the rest of the year. That’s my prediction. They’re that good.”

No, he’s not talking about Southeastern Conference heavyweights Florida, Alabama or LSU, all ranked in the top four of the Associated Press Top 25 poll coming into this weekend’s games.

But he is referring to another SEC team whose name usually isn’t mentioned in serious title conversation.

Flair has pinned his hopes on the South Carolina Gamecocks.

“They should have beaten Georgia,” said Flair, pointing to what he called poor officiating in a game where South Carolina came within one pass of upsetting Georgia on the road. “Their defense plays great. Now they’ve got the same quarterback for the whole game for the first time in five years.”

Flair also isn’t buying into talk that the Gamecocks’ recent upset over then-No. 4 Ole Miss was a fluke, and that the Rebels were grossly overrated coming into the season.

“It doesn’t matter how they looked (in that game),” says Flair. “They were ranked No. 4. The all-mighty Gamecock defense shut them down. Just look what the defense did to N.C. State.”

A little trash-talking from the “dirtiest player in the game” didn’t hurt either. Flair, who has a sideline presence at many Carolina games, good-naturedly took a jab at Ole Miss fans prior to the contest: “My suits cost more than their house.”

Flair, a longtime friend of former Florida head coach and current Gamecocks top man Steve Spurrier, truly believes South Carolina can go all the way in 2009.

His lofty prediction takes the much-maligned Gamecocks into the national title picture. He predicts South Carolina will eventually move to a No. 2 ranking after beating the defending national champion Gators, currently the top-ranked team in the land, and then will go on to defeat the Oklahoma Sooners for the national title. Considering, of course, the Sooners — minus 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford — were able to avoid their second loss of the season this weekend against Miami.

Flair’s also hoping that the Gamecocks can reverse what has become a predictable trend in recent years — losing to in-state rival Clemson.

For now, though, Flair can only point to the former national champion Tigers’ mediocre record this season (2-2 going into Saturday’s game against Maryland).

“How bad is Clemson? They’ve already lost two games,” says Flair.

- A Ric Flair fan won the top prize in the new Ric Flair Wooo! Lottery Game in North Carolina.

Frankie Shirley won $100,000 in the instant scratch-off game and will claim $68,001.60 after taxes.

Shirley, who bought the ticket at a tobacco shop in Asheboro, told the N.C. Education Lottery he read the ticket about 10 times to make sure it was real. He said he may use some of his winnings for a trip. But most of it will go into savings.

- Lacey Von Erich (Lacey Adkisson), daughter of the late Kerry Von Erich, made her TNA debut last week as the newest member of The Beautiful People. Joining Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne in the group, Von Erich slips into the role previously occupied by Angelina Love (Lauren Williams), who was recently released from the company due to an issue with her visa.

It was an eventful debut for Von Erich, as the 23-year-old blonde beauty raised the ire of some TNA officials when she buried Love in an interview last week with the Miami Herald.

“I feel like it was made for me, and she (Angelina) wasn’t a good fit for it in my opinion,’’ Von Erich said of her new role. “I thought that everybody was going to be, ‘Oh no. Angelina is gone,’ but not one person said that. Nobody really missed her that much. I feel like I can fill the shoes that I’m supposed to.

“I’ve never met Angelina before in my life. After what some people have said, I don’t know if I want to. I just feel like we can all be a group together and shine together, so I’m excited about that.’’

Von Erich reportedly has been ordered to apologize for her comments.

- Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback in NFL history, will host this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw, less than 24 hours after leading his Pittsburgh Steelers against the San Diego Chargers.

Roethlisberger reportedly didn’t ask his team permission to take part in the show, and Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin offered only a “no comment” when asked about Roethlisberger serving as the guest host of this week’s event in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Big Ben is taking five offensive linemen with him, and left tackle Max Starks told the Beaver County (Pa.) Times that the players didn’t tell the coaches in advance. The Steelers will hold a team meeting Monday, but Tuesday is the players’ weekly day off.

“Ben is the captain, he said, ‘Let’s roll,’ so that’s all right,” right tackle Willie Colon said. “I don’t plan on being physical. I ain’t gonna choke nobody. I do my wrestling on Sunday. I’ll be a spectator on Monday.”

“It’s our off day. I talked to him about it, but I didn’t really ask for permission,” said Roethlisberger. I kind of went and talked to him and got a feel for if he was going to have a big problem with it. I figured he would tell me. But like I said, it’s our off day. I want to let everyone know: I’m not coming off any top ropes or anything. People are freaking out that I’m going to be doing something. I’m not going to be doing anything crazy, so relax.”

- Dennis Miller reportedly will be the host of a three-hour Raw on Nov. 23 in Hershey, Pa.

- WWE’s “Unauthorized History of DX” book will be released officially Tuesday.

- Old School Championship Wrestling will present its Caged Carnage event Oct. 11 at Weekend’s Pub, 428 Red Bank Road, Goose Creek. Doors open at 5 p.m., and bell time is 6. For more information, visit www.oscwonline.com or call 743-4800.

Mike Mooneyham can be reached by phone at (843) 937-5517 or by e-mail at mooneyham@postandcourier.com.