We all know the SEC is the best conference in College Football, so we have to start our College Football coverage with them. Here are 5 predictions for what I expect to come out of this competitive and often unpredictable conference. At the end of the article is a full prediction for the conference standings.
Alabama Loses 2 Games
The last time we saw the Crimson Tide they were distraught, watching Clemson celebrate the National Championship they assumed would be theirs. The freshmen phenome Jalen Hurts is returning for 2017, but not much more of the team is. Alabama is looking to bring back about a dozen of their starters, which is one of the lowest return rates in the SEC. I think their ambition gets the best of them, and they lose their season opener to a Florida State team that has much more to prove. Alabama will then coast through their SEC schedule until they lose to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. It is still Alabama, though, and let’s not rule out the possibility of them making the playoffs even with 2 losses.
Auburn Wins the SEC
Auburn, similar to Alabama, will have a two loss season. I expect them to fall to SEC West foe LSU and to a still significant Clemson squad. That leaves them with only 1 SEC loss, and would allow them to win the tiebreaker against Alabama from head to head record. I also expect LSU to be competitive within the SEC but ultimately have losses to both Auburn and Alabama, forcing them to be third in a competitive division.
Tennessee Finally gets the 9th Win…But Still Doesn’t Win the East
We know the Vols have failed to get that ever important 9th win, its cost them a shot at losing to Alabama in the SEC championship two years in a row now. Even with Dobbs, Hurd, and Kamara gone the Vols return a deep squad. I expect them to use Dormandy as their primary QB, really stretching the field and finally using their talented WR corp. They are plagued with a tough schedule against the SEC west, drawing 2 likely losses from LSU and Alabama. What they will do is head into the Swamp and beat Florida for the second straight year. This sounds too idealistic for the Vols, though, so they’ll take their 3rd SEC loss to Nick Chubb’s strong Georgia squad. Florida will take 4 losses (Michigan, Tennessee, LSU, and Florida State) but with only 2 SEC losses they’ll finish ahead of Tennessee.
Kentucky Gets 8 Wins
Kentucky is expected to return 17 of their starters. They’ve been hanging around the east for a few years now giving teams a real run for their money. What makes this year different is their schedule is so easy. Out of conference opponents include: Southern Mississippi, Eastern Kentucky, and Eastern Michigan. They drew the easiest combination of SEC West opponents with Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Which means they just need to scrap out three wins in the SEC East, which I expect to be against South Carolina, Mizzou, and Vandy.
Texas A&M will be just Mediocre….Again
In true Aggie form they’ll fire out of the gate, getting a publicized win against UCLA and rolling through a weak non-conference schedule, along with SEC opponents Arkansas and South Carolina. That’s a solid 5-0 foundation for them to tank from. In a 4 week span they then play: Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State, and Auburn; so 3 losses. They’ll bounce back against New Mexico and Ole Miss, but then take a last week loss to LSU and that should be it for Kevin Sumlin.
Predicted Conference Standings:
Auburn 10-2 (6-1)
Alabama 10-2 (6-1)
LSU 10-2 (5-2)
Arkansas 6-6 (4-3)
Texas A&M 8-4 (3-4)
Mississippi State 5-7 (1-6)
Ole Miss 4-8 (1-6)
Florida 8-4 (5-2)
Georgia 8-4 (4-3)
Tennessee 9-3 (4-3)
Kentucky 8-4 (4-3)
South Carolina 7-5 (4-3)
Vandy 4-8 (1-6)
Mizzou 4-8 (0-7)