Once again, a blogger’s gotta do what a blogger’s gotta do – in this case, take my annual hindsight driven peek back at how I saw the SEC shaping up before the start of the season.
As always, schools are listed in the same order as they were in the preseason post, with this season’s won-loss totals.
ALABAMA (12-1, 7-1)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: Predicting greatness from the Tide isn’t exactly rocket science. I did underestimate Kiffin’s ability to replace Cooper’s production with Henry’s.
- Grade: A-
MISSISSIPPI STATE (8-4, 4-4)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: Well, yeah. Although Diaz wasn’t anything great.
- Grade: A-
MISSISSIPPI (9-3, 6-2)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: They didn’t. But they could have been better.
- Grade: A-
AUBURN (6-6, 2-6)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: I should have bought in to the historical record more.
- Grade: D-
LSU (8-3, 5-3)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: LSU split the baby, alright.
- Grade: B+
TEXAS A & M (8-4, 4-4)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: The defense improved, but the offense slid. The end result was about what I expected.
- Grade: B+
ARKANSAS (7-5, 5-3)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: Meh. The defense weakened and the offense got better. Go figure.
- Grade: C
MISSOURI (5-7, 1-7)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: Wrong, wrong, wrong. Mauk lost his job, the offense stunk on ice and sunk a team with a good defense.
- Grade: D-
GEORGIA (9-3, 5-3)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: The final record wasn’t far off, especially once you factor in Chubb’s injury. But it was a disappointing season. And I’d say Florida counts as a monumental brain fart.
- Grade: B-
FLORIDA (10-3, 7-1)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: Didn’t see that one coming. (Not that anyone else did.)
- Grade: D+
SOUTH CAROLINA (3-9, 1-7)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: Oof. Spurrier and his chip couldn’t even finish the season.
- Grade: F
TENNESSEE (8-4, 5-3)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: Pretty much nailed it.
- Grade: A
KENTUCKY (5-7, 2-6)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: Same as it ever was.
- Grade: A
VANDERBILT (4-8, 2-6)
- What I Said: 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.
- How I Did: Derek Mason is a very good defensive coordinator. Vanderbilt was better because of that.
- Grade: C-
So, what do you think about what I think?