I go to school in the Big Ten, but I’ve been a Georgia fan since middle school. The Big Ten is trash at football and my school is always near the bottom of the league, so I had to find another league to watch during College Football. I chose the SEC because of my fandom for Georgia and hatred for Bama. I can only hope for a Georgia win and a Bama loss each week, but that rarely happens.
I got the regular season win totals and where I think each team will end up this season. Let’s cook:
(I know I’m not discussing defenses, but the SEC usually has some of the better defensive play in college football because of the insane athleticism on the field at all times. So I’m focusing on the offenses for each of these teams because there is more variance.)
Alabama o10.5 wins
It pains me to make this prediction, but it’s pretty much penciled in that Alabama will win over ten games a year. The hardest game on Bama’s schedule this year comes in their last matchup with Auburn. Other than that there’s a bunch of cupcake teams including the Citadel. If UCF wasn’t picked for the College Football Playoff for having too weak of a schedule last season, then Alabama shouldn’t be in it this year.
Tua played well enough in the National Championship for me to believe in him this season as much as I hate him. He showed great pocket presence and while there were times where Georgia forced him out of the pocket, he overall did a great job of finding his receivers and picking apart one of the best defenses in the country.
RANT TIME: The last play in the National Championship will forever make me sick to my stomach. I was sitting on the couch telling my dad that Domonick Sanders needed to play over the top of Malkom Parrish and not drift towards the other side of the field because Bama was going to go over the top of Parrish to throw to Ridley because they were burning him all game doing that. Sure enough that’s exactly what happened. If a 20 year old (at the time) can sit on his couch and dissect a play like that, how come Kirby Smart wasn’t able to see that?????????????
Georgia o10.5 wins
I’m obviously not going to pick them for the under here, but I think they can actually win more than 10 games this year. It hurts losing the best defensive player in all of college football and two of the best running backs, but they still have Jake Fromm. The schedule isn’t looking too tough and again the only real concern is Auburn and depending on how Florida starts the season, potentially the Gators. Georgia usually handles Florida pretty well, but with a young backfield, it may be tough for the Bulldogs to differentiate their offensive game as they have been able to the past couple of seasons.
I’m curious to see what happens with De’Andre Swift this season. I don’t know if he’ll start right away and get a majority of the carries or if he’ll split time with a back like Brian Herrien. Either way, this duo is not going to be as good as the Chubb-Michel duo that was featured the past few seasons.
Another guy I’ll be watching closely is Domonick Sanders. Sanders has already proven himself to be one of the better safeties in the SEC and arguably college football, but I think he’s really going to go balls to the wall this season so he can secure the school interception record. He trails Bacarri Rambo and Jake Scott by just 5 interceptions. He’s going to be a quarterbacks nightmare once again this season and hopefully he can improve his draft stock.
I don’t see too many teams being able to stop Jake Fromm. He was able to play in meaningful games last season and really showed head coach Kirby Smart that he could not only play in a big moment, but shine. Fromm was one of the better Freshman quarterbacks I’ve seen in a long time and I expect him to continue his solid play into his Sophomore year. I know that QB’s don’t necessarily make or break a team, but in a conference like the SEC that has a bunch of stellar defenses, having a good quarterback is key.
Auburn 9 wins
Another easy looking schedule for a solid team. It’s going to be a different Auburn team this year without Kerryon Johnson running havoc on defenses, but they still should be pretty solid. Their season will likely be dependent on the quarterback play of Jarrett Stidham. In a majority of the games they won last season, his completion percentage was above 60% and in games they lost it was 50% or below with the exception of their bowl game against UCF.
Kerryon Johnson will leave behind some big shoes to fill for Kam Martin and Kamryn Pettway (if he decides to stay at Auburn). I’ll focus on Martin because it’s likely he’ll be the starter this season. Martin is a smaller back, 5’9″ and 185 pounds which somewhat hinders what Auburn can do with their passing game. Martin is one of the fastest players on the Auburn roster and had the most yards per attempt for any of their running backs last season including Kerryon Johnson. Johnson was more likely to run in between the tackles than Martin was, but they were both effective with the ball in their hands. If Auburn can get consistent play out of their running backs this season, they could be in contention for an SEC championship.
Mississippi State u8.5 wins
After looking through the Bulldogs schedule, I have them at 8 wins. Nothing to be upset about for Mississippi State, but I don’t think they can hang with the elite teams of the conference. They have a new head coach after Dan Mullen left the program for Florida. Mississippi State and Florida is going to be a game you’ll want circled on your calendar. I think Mississippi State will play their best game of the season and the crowd is really going to get into it.
This season will be highly dependent on the plan of Joe Moorhead. A new head coach usually doesn’t have much to work with in his first season with a team, but that’s not the case here. Mississippi State has a good core of talent and should be able to hang around in every game this season even if they end up losing. Moorhead has a decision to make though. He has to decide whether or not Mississippi State is just the next step in his coaching career or a stop for a long time. He has a chance to really build this team up much like Mullen did, but it’s not easy for a new head coach to step in and have success right away, especially in a very talented SEC which is why I don’t think MSU wins more than 8.5 games.
Florida u8.5 wins
I have Florida right at 8 wins as well, which again isn’t bad for a first year head coach. Dan Mullen has already stressed that he’s more focused on getting fan support than succeeding in his first year. This is a guy that knows how to turn a program around as we all saw with Mississippi State.
Florida’s got some pretty good recruits coming in, including a 4 star safety, Trey Dean, that I was hoping Georgia could get to stay in-state. He’s going to be an integral part of that Florida defense during his four years with the program. The Florida defense was pretty solid last year and kept them in a lot of games when the offense was struggling.
The biggest problem for the offense last year was quarterback play. Four quarterbacks combined for 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season and under 2,000 yards. Most college quarterbacks can accumulate those stats in the first half of the season and four guys could barely do it in a full season. They have Emory Jones coming in with this recruiting class and while the plan may not be to start him right away, I think he’ll get some action if whoever Dan Mullen chooses to start is under performing. Feleipe Franks is probably going to get the starting job considering he’s the only quarterback on the Gators roster that has any game experience. Not having a quarterback with a lot of experience or success is going to be a problem for the Gators in SEC play. Mullen worked wonders for the Mississippi State program, but in his first year with what he’s been handed, I don’t see the Gators getting more than 8.5 wins.
LSU u7.5 wins
I have LSU right at 6 wins on the season which is a downgrade from last year when they won 8 games in the regular season. I think it’s going to be hard for LSU to be good this season after losing Derrius Guice and Danny Etling. Losing two of the most important positions on the field is going to hurt any team, but it’ll especially hurt LSU because they have to put guys with less experience at those two positions.
The passing game struggled for the Tigers on the road last season, throwing for just 4 touchdowns. That’s not a recipe for success by any means. They relied heavily on the ground game, but that’s very easy to do when you have Derrius Guice in your backfield. Guice leaves behind some big shoes to fill, but the LSU running backs have been pretty damn good under head coach Ed Orgeron, so I’m sure he’ll find a guy to be his next premier back.
LSU may find it’s next QB in Joe Burrow, a fourth year Junior that is transferring out of the Ohio State program. Burrow still has visits to go on and has not made his decision yet, but LSU may be a good spot for both sides. LSU would be gaining a quarterback that got to sit and watch some good QB play at OSU the past three years and Burrow would likely be coming into a situation where he gets the starting job right away. Even with Burrow at the helm, I don’t think LSU has enough to eclipse the 7.5 win mark.
South Carolina o7.5 wins
8 wins again. South Carolina is a very hard team to predict every year, so the games that I picked them to win and lose probably will not line up, but I think they’ll be good enough to win 8 games on their schedule including stealing one on the road against Florida. They play very inconsistently every year and have the potential to win every game by a close margin or just get absolutely blown out.
Nick Harvey is transferring from Texas A&M this season and he was an important part of the Aggie defense in 2016 when he was healthy. Harvey sat out last season with a knee injury, but in 2016 his 10 pass deflections led the Aggies.
USC struggled with their kicker last year. Parker White was just 12/22 on his field goal attempts, an abismal 54.5%. While the kicker may not be the most important part of the team, this position can still win or lose you a game. White was money on anything inside of 40 yards (9/10), but anything more than that was terrible (3/12). This tells me White has somewhat of a baby leg, which is hard to overcome. Hopefully Jake Bentley and the rest of the Gamecocks offense will be able to set up White inside the 40 yard line or just score a bunch of touchdowns so he won’t have to worry about it.
Texas A&M 7 wins
I think Vegas got this one right and I have TAMU right at 7. They’ll be a solid team, but again, I don’t think they can hand with the elite teams of this conference. The Aggies were able to lure Jimbo Fisher away from Florida State and made arguably the best coaching hire of the off season. I think Fisher is a great coach, but this is a situation where the team he was handed is full of another coaches recruits that may not fit his system.
A&M starts the season against Clemson, which is not an easy opponent for anyone to play against at any stage of the season, but the Aggies will unfortunately get to play the Tigers when they are at their healthiest at the beginning of this season. It’ll be interesting to see how Clemson plays after losing to Bama in the playoff last season. It’ll be even more interesting to see how Nick Starkel performs against one of the more elite defenses in the country.
The good news for Aggie fans is that Starkel should be able to thrive under Jimbo Fisher much like Jameis Winston was able to during his time at Florida State. Fisher has made his name in college football by developing quarterbacks and making them the stars of their teams.
Mizzou u6.5 wins
Looking at their schedule at first glance, I see two for sure wins to start off the season, followed by 7 straight losses and 3 wins to end the year. They have one iffy game with Tennessee that might sneak them into a bowl game, but it’ll still be under 6.5 wins.
Drew Lock had a great season for Mizzou last year, racking up 3964 yards with 44 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. Lock is likely to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, but unfortunately for him he has to stick around Mizzou and endure a shitty season until then. If good Quarterback play could erase points that the defense gives up, Mizzou would win a lot more games, but that’s not how football works. Lock will likely tear up opposing defenses much like he did last season, but it’s not going to be enough for Mizzou to be a serious SEC contender. It’s possible that they could surprise me and get their shit together to rally around Lock and make a serious name for themselves this year, but it’s more likely than not that that will not happen.
Mizzou has all three star recruits coming in from their 2018 class, which gives head coach Barry Odom something to build on in the future, but his immediate help will likely not come from this bunch. I think the offensive linemen that are coming in are going to be the best out of their recruits this season, but they won’t be enough for Mizzou to have a successful season.
Kentucky o6 wins
The Wildcats have 16 returning starters, which is on the higher end for an SEC team because of the amount of talent in the conference each year that leaves to play in the NFL. I have Kentucky sitting at 7 wins right now. They did just lose their top recruit for the 2019 season in Keontra Smith, so I think they’ll be working their asses off so something like this doesn’t happen again. They want to establish a culture of winning much like their basketball team has been able to do. This team used to be an easy win on most SEC teams schedules, but I think they may surprise some teams this year. They also do not have a very tough non-conference schedule, which will help their win total.
Benny Snell is going to be the highlight for this team much like he was last season. Snell has the luxury of running behind the same offensive line that was in front of him last year as well. Snell saw his yards per attempt dip a little last year (5.1 from 5.9), but he also saw his usage rate rise going from 186 carries in 2016 to 256 carries in 2017. Snell has breakaway ability and is able to see the field very well despite his smaller stature. Kentucky is likely going to ride him for most of the season, so hopefully his linemen can keep him from getting too banged up early on in the season.
Ole Miss u6 wins
5 wins for Ole Miss this season. There’s a lot going on for this program regarding players coming and going and the one that’s going to hurt the most is Shea Patterson leaving. Patterson had a pretty good year for the Rebels, racking up 2259 yards along with 17 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, but even that was only good for 6 wins. Patterson did not play in the last 5 games of the season and Jordan Ta’amu took over the starting role for those games.
This is another school going through some dark times and they’re losing a lot of players because of it. Ole Miss was charged with lack of institutional control and their head coaching situation was changed before the beginning of last season when Hugh Freeze resigned and Matt Luke took over the reigns. It’s going to be a couple of years before Ole Miss is back in contention for the SEC title, so sit tight through these rough times Rebels fans, it’ll get better (maybe).
Tennessee u5.5 wins
The Volunteers just miss the mark as I have them sitting at 5 wins. There are a lot of problems at Tennessee right now and as good as they were a few years ago, I don’t think they’ll be too good in the years coming up here. They didn’t win a single SEC game last year, and while I think that will change this year, it still doesn’t look good for them.
The QB play for Tennessee was trash to say the least. Just 11 TDs and 10 interceptions between 3 different guys. Luckily Jarrett Guarantano was the most accurate of the bunch (61.9%) and will likely get the starting job this season. Other than that, there’s not much to look forward to for Tennessee. The football program’s search for a head coach sent the campus and community into a frenzy when they first announced Greg Schiano and then quickly rescinded their offer to look for another coach.
Tennessee also lost their leading rusher John Kelly to the NFL Draft, so they’ll have to look to someone else to give them some solid time in the backfield. Unfortunately for Tennessee fans, last year was probably just the beginning of what’s going to be some pretty shitty football.
Arkansas u5.5 wins
Just 4 wins by my count looking at the schedule for the first time. Arkansas hasn’t been a real contender since the days of Darren McFadden and let me tell you those days are long gone. A toss up game with Vanderbilt may put them at 5 wins, but still under 5.5.
Cole Kelley has a pretty good first season last year, but he’s still only a Sophomore. Maybe he’ll have the Jake Fromm effect and lead Arkansas to a successful season, but I doubt it. I don’t think it’s because of his ability, he’s shown to be a decently accurate passer that can really sling the ball downfield, but he doesn’t necessarily have the best pieces around him. I think his favorite target for the season is going to be Jonathan Nance. Nance lacks the height of most elite route runners, but his speed definitely makes up for that. He’s been clocked at 4.4 in the 40 yard dash which allows him some great breakaway speed. It’ll be entertaining to watch Kelley toss the ball up and have Nance run under it while blowing by every defender, but it’s not going to be enough for Arkansas to compete in the SEC.
Vandy u5 wins
It’s going to be a rough season for Vanderbilt, as of now I have them at 4 wins, 2 of them coming outside of the SEC. They have a very tough non-conference schedule and are probably the worst team in their own conference, so wins are going to be hard to come by. Vanderbilt is not known as a football school and for good reason, they aren’t good.
Kyle Shurmur was the one exception last year, he had a pretty decent year racking up 26 TDs against just 10 interceptions. Shurmur was successful because they were able to use their passing game off of a pretty successful running game with Ralph Webb. Unfortunately for Shurmur and the rest of Vanderbilt, Webb is now on the New England Patriots and unable to help the Commodores out. Shurmur is for sure an NFL talent, but it may not look like it this season if Vanderbilt can’t win any games.