Not your regular SEC preseason predictions, 2015 edition

It’s that time again.  You know, when I show my ass by trying to figure out what’s getting ready to unfold in the SEC over the next three months.  Good luck with that.

The format for my picks, in case you haven’t tuned into this broadcast before, hasn’t changed.

Rather than give you my predicted records, I’ll list the schools in the order they finished in the conference last year, look at areas of potential improvement and decline and assess in what direction I expect each to go by comparison to 2010.

In other words, pure seat of the pants BS.

Based on that, the teams are listed in the order of their 2014 conference order of finish.  Remember that, before you start freaking out over where a school shows up in this post.

So, without further ado, away we go.


ALABAMA (12-2, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Impressive team depth; Nick Saban; unparalleled program stability; best defensive front seven in the country; punter (!); great advanced stats
  • Cons:  Secondary; Amari Cooper departure; inexperience at quarterback; schedule
  • Outlook:  Uncharted territory – as good as this team is in places, between the schedule, breaking in a new quarterback and losing Cooper (something I don’t think is getting near enough attention), I can actually contemplate the possibility of Alabama losing two regular season games.  Mind you, I’m not predicting that, but I accept it could happen.


  • Pros:  Coaching stability; Dak Prescott;  soft non-conference schedule; defense
  • Cons:  Mediocre special teams; offensive line; least experienced team in the SEC West
  • Outlook:  Having the best quarterback in the conference return is nice, but this team is going to take a hit after losing a ton of experienced players.  Getting Manny Diaz to come back to replace Collins was a good move.  I’m thinking eight wins, tops.

MISSISSIPPI (9-4, 5-3)

  • Pros:  Receivers; favorable advanced stats; coaching stability; defense; favorable cross-division games
  • Cons:  Still lack depth in comparison to top teams in West; running back; quarterback
  • Outlook: People forget how good this team was over the first half of the season, and most of the talent is back, especially on defense.  Quarterback and running back are legitimate concerns.  So is depth, which is what hurt Ole Miss over the second half in 2014.  Still, with that defense, it’s hard to see how Freeze’s team will do any worse than last season’s record.

AUBURN (8-5, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Great offensive system with good personnel; excellent recruiting; Alabama and Georgia at home; soft non-conference schedule; strong advanced stats
  • Cons:  Departure of Nick Marshall; question marks on defense; turnover on offense
  • Outlook:  Last year, I wrote that “historically, Auburn doesn’t do well when it’s a preseason front-runner”, and that’s worth keeping in mind again.  I think Johnson will do fine, but Marshall was perfect for Malzahn’s system.  Based on getting some key defensive talent back and the schedule, I do think Auburn will rebound, but not as much as some would have you believe.  Nine or ten wins looks about right.

LSU (8-5, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Loads of talent on both sides of the ball; soft non-conference schedule
  • Cons:  Loss of Chavis on defense; quarterback; Alabama on the road
  • Outlook:  I used to count dependably on Les Miles’ teams for two losses a year.  This year, LSU is the hardest team to handicap in the conference.  Plug the QB black hole and keep up defensive excellence, and this is a team that has enough going for it to make it all the way to the CFP.  If not, given the toughness of the division, it’s not out of the question for the Tigers to lose four SEC games again this season.  Tentatively, I’ll split the baby.

TEXAS A & M (8-5, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Great recruiting; addition of John Chavis; draws Vanderbilt from the East; best receiver group in the SEC
  • Cons:  Brutal mid-season stretch against six straight conference opponents; shaky defense; unimpressive advanced stats
  • Outlook:  Chavis is a great hire, but Rome wasn’t built overnight.  I’m not seeing where people predicting the Aggies to win the West are coming from.  Based on a tougher schedule, I’m not sure there will be much of a change in the record over 2014’s.

ARKANSAS (7-6, 2-6)

  • Pros:  Offensive line; running backs; better defense; favorable advanced stats
  • Cons:  special teams; schedule
  • Outlook:  I’m still a little amazed about what gets you a $4 million/year contract these days.  But the defense improved enough last season to elevate Arkansas to a tough out in the SEC West.  The question is, can they build on that in 2015?  Maybe a little.  The Hogs look like an eight-win team that goes .500 in the conference to me.


MISSOURI (11-3, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Coaching stability; offensive line; running back; secondary; schedule; (the good) Maty Mauk
  • Cons:  Big losses at receiver and defensive end; (the bad) Maty Mauk
  • Outlook: As has been the case for the past couple of seasons, the schedule shapes up to be Missouri’s biggest friend.  Pinkel knows what he’s doing and showed it again with the hire of his new defensive coordinator.  Mizzou looks like it’s all about the running game (on both sides of the ball) and Mauk’s ability to show out in crunch time.  I’ve learned my lesson with the Tigers:  barring injury, I don’t expect more than two regular season losses.  Will that be enough for a third straight division title?  Stay tuned.

GEORGIA (10-3, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Running back; offensive line; tight ends; improved defensive depth; linebackers; Jeremy Pruitt; positive advanced stats
  • Cons: Quarterback; defensive line; wide receiver depth; schedule; regression to the mean from conference-leading turnover margin
  • Outlook:  As I wrote the other week, a ten-win regular season is a justified expectation.  Which doesn’t mean the Dawgs will win ten games.  This team will go as far as its ability to avoid brain farts takes it.

FLORIDA (7-5, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Defense; an offensive coordinator who has a clue about what to do; soft early season schedule
  • Cons:  Offensive line; passing game; coaching staff overhaul; tough schedule (eight conference games in a row) down the stretch
  • Outlook:  The Gators are likely to be good enough on defense to avoid making this year a debacle, but not good enough on offense to show much improvement in the record, unless McElwain can steal a win somewhere.


  • Pros:  Steve Spurrier; linebacking; receivers
  • Cons:  Unproven quarterback; secondary; defensive line; schedule
  • Outlook:  The ‘Cocks have to hope they’re going to get good answers to a lot of questions, based on how last season turned out.  Still, Spurrier’s got that chip on his shoulder again.  It’s just that he can only throw the visor so many times for effect.  Eight wins look about right.

TENNESSEE (7-6, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Receiver; improving talent base; returning quarterback, defense
  • Cons:  Offensive line; overall team depth; new offensive coordinator; preseason injuries; schedule
  • Outlook:  On the uptick?  Okay, yes. But the only way I can see the Vols living up to some of the preseason hype is if the East completely falls apart.  (Stranger things have happened, but still.)  I’m seeing eight wins here.

KENTUCKY (5-7, 2-6)

  • Pros:  Improving talent base after a couple of solid recruiting classes; coaching stability; linebackers
  • Cons:  Secondary; overall depth; schedule
  • Outlook:  This is a team that has recruited well enough to return to bowl eligibility this season.  But the schedule is tough enough to make that a close call.

VANDERBILT (3-9, 0-8)

  • Pros:  Changing offensive coordinators; relatively decent job of stocking talent by James Franklin; regression to the mean from horrendous turnover margin
  • Cons:  Offense; team depth
  • Outlook:  The bottom fell out under Derek Mason’s first year, as he appeared in over his head.  Will he get that fixed?  It’s hard to see where the Commodores get better.  And the scary thing is that Mason’s window already appears tight, as Vandy’s recruiting has fallen off from where Franklin had taken it.


Filed under SEC Football

36 responses to “Not your regular SEC preseason predictions, 2015 edition

  1. Cojones

    You could throw in offensive depth for UGA as well as special teams this year.


    • Macallanlover

      Offensive depth? I don’t think I recall a deeper offense at UGA, and at every single position. Go bak to the brownies or cookies, the pipe is obviously too much for you at this age.


  2. Mizzou scares me more than Tennessee and it has a lot to do with the schedule. The last four years saw the East contender with the best (easiest) crossover schedule win the division (Mizzou the last two years and UGA the two before that). Now, Arkansas is damn good and Mississippi State has the league’s best QB, but if you could pick which two teams to play from the West I suspect those would be the two.


    • D.N. Nation

      Since joining the SEC in 2012, here is Missouri’s regular-season record against Alabama, Auburn and LSU:

      Bama: 0-1
      Auburn: 0-0
      LSU: 0-0

      Here will be Missouri’s regular-season record against Alabama, Auburn and LSU after this season:

      Bama: 0-1
      Auburn: 0-0
      LSU: 0-0

      I don’t know who Gary Pinkel is sharing his drinks with in SEC HQ, but it’s getting rather ridiculous. I swear, I think Mizzou plays Vandy three times this season.


  3. DawgPhan

    You really think Mizzou is going to win the east again.



    • Not sure if you’re asking me, but I wouldn’t be shocked. The schedule is very inviting. I do think the issue for Mizzou is its DL, though. And Mauk is who he is, but if UGA loses 2 SEC games (very possible) I could see Mizzou going 7-1.


      • Mayor

        The key for UGA is the Dawgs have to beat Mizzou head to head to even have a chance. If Mizzou gets the tiebreaker over the Dawgs, and with the difference in difficulty in the teams’ respective conference schedules, it would be very difficult for the Dawgs to win the East. Even if the Dawgs beat Mizzou I can see that being Mizzou’s only conference loss and the Dawgs could easily lose to Bama and brainfart away another game.


  4. Otto

    It will be interesting to see if Saban slows down the rate Jr. rattles off plays. Saban claimed Bama defended 170 more plays last year, the breath after discussing their faster offense. If they do I look for Bama’s defense to look much better on paper. I’m not concerned that they haven’t selected a QB. Bama has highly recruited QBs on campus which have time in the system.

    Mizzou lost their experienced DL talent, UT has an experienced 1 deep an highly touted 2nd string. The head cock is playing up how bad his team is, and not mentioning his JUCO transfers on defense. It maybe out of left field but I think he has something up his sleeve.


  5. My predictions:

    Dawgs: 15-0
    Everyone else: who gives a damn?


  6. UGA85

    The East should not be in doubt this year. In fact, this should be our year to win the SEC. Both OL and DL are laden with experience and seniors. A QB with three years in the system. The best RB in the nation. Both kickers are seniors. And the best, most experienced linebackers anywhere, to go with a well-coached secondary. Everything is there for us this year, we will lose a lot in 2016, and there is no other dominant team in the league this year. I am out of reasons not to pick us now.


    • Brandon

      I wouldn’t say everything is there for us. We lack depth and experience on the D-Line and Wideout, are replacing our starting QB and Center, and oh yeah… we just happen to have the hardest crossover schedule in the entire conference. Sure, I think UGA can beat anyone on the schedule, but actually doing it on the field every week isn’t that easy


      • UGA85

        We have four seniors on the DL and tons of experience on the OL. Because the East is down, we have the luxury of losing our usual game or two and still getting to ATL. It just seems to set up well for us this year, IMO.


  7. kckd

    The schedule is Mizzou’s friend, but they also lost a ton of games the could just as easily have lost last year. They won’t be that lucky this time around. Remember, they lost to perhaps the worst team in the B1G.


  8. kckd

    Sorry, they also won a ton of games they could’ve just as easily have won. Where the edit button?


  9. kckd

    Damn! They also won a ton of games they could just as easily have lost. Shit, I gotta stop trying to do two things at once.


  10. We need to sweep the East and manage at least a split with Alabama and Auburn in order to win the Division. It is easier said than done.


    • kckd

      I think we can win the East with 2 losses. I really have a hard time seeing even Mizzou going 7-1 this year. The team everyone is overlooking IMO is S. Carolina. They are not as bad as they looked last year and are the direct opposite of Mizzou. They lost a lot of games they could have easily won.


  11. “This team will go as far as its ability to avoid brain farts takes it.”

    It’s really that simple. Can this team (coaches & players) come out focused and ready to destroy everything in its path between now and December 6? If so, the ceiling is extremely high. The team that systematically dissected Auburn last year could have beaten anybody in the country including the playoff teams. The team that rolled its helmets out in Jacksonville against a wounded, cornered rival could get beaten by anyone on the schedule with a pulse. When the coaches push the right buttons as they did in the 2nd half against Clemson, this team has the playmakers on both sides of the ball to suffocate teams. When they don’t, stuff like the USCe or tech losses happen.

    It’s time to focus on ULM. One at a time, Dawgs!


  12. papa dawg

    This line makes me queasy: “…unless McElwain can steal a win somewhere.”


  13. mdcgtp

    Mizzou won’t win 8 games. Will lose FIVE of 7 to UGA, UF, ARK, UT, USC, miss st, and BYU.


  14. 69Dawg

    The problem for Georgia has historically been taking the foot off of the gas pedal. It didn’t start with Mark but he is as guilty of it as any of his predecessors. We score an early easy TD and the whole team seems to relax (see the FU game last year). Once we relax it is hard to get back in beast mode. This is coaching. The champions get a team down and then kick the living hell out of them. I doubt if the Georgia Bulldogs can change this almost DNA like part of their makeup and that is IMHO we face plant at least once a year.


  15. SouthernYank

    UF ends up 4th at best in the SEC East (likely worse, behind UGA, UT, Mizzou and SC) because of OL experience:
    LT: Mason Halter – Fordham Grad Transfer
    LG: Trip Thurman – started 10 games last year
    C: Cam Dillard – saw action in 4 games last year (Eastern Mich, UGA, Vandy, Eastern Kentucky)
    RG: Antonio Riles – saw action in 4 games last year (Eastern Mich, UGA, Vandy, Eastern Kentucky)
    RT: David Sharpe – saw action in 6 games last year



  16. Cojones

    Taylor Denman at R@B has hit on a glitch that we have in our secondary and that I have commented before as glaring to me. Undefended short passes over the middle stood out last year and am anxious to see if it has been partially closed from what I thought was wide open last year. I know everyone sees stats that say that isn’t a problem in comparison to other teams, but it overtly stood out from what was otherwise a good secondary. I agree with him that it will be attacked throughout the season.

    Until shown differently, this should be factored into our cons.


  17. “unparalleled program stability” – C’mon, Senator. I know you lived through the Bryant era.

    I agree that losing Cooper has to hurt; talent-wise, he’s the best Alabama receiver I’ve ever seen. (He doesn’t have Julio’s heart, but he’s a better receiver IMHO.)


  18. AusDawg85

    We have an untested OL, a tie for 3rd string at QB, no receivers, a DL that can’t fill a gap, DB’s running around clueless, kickers that choke. We got no chance I tell ya…NONE!