One man’s bold predictions…

As those sorts of columns go, this one’s actually kind of thought-provoking.

Start with this:

1. Tennessee will beat Alabama for the first time in a decade

It’s no surprise to regular readers I’ve been high on this year’s Volunteers for some time. Tennessee returns 18 starters, including a potentially dynamic quarterback in Joshua Dobbs, from a team that lost four games by a total of 16 points last year. The Vols will no doubt have Oct. 15 vs. the Crimson Tide circled on their calendar, and this is the year they finally get over the hump. It’s been a while. The last time Tennessee beat Alabama (2006), Mike Shula and Phillip Fulmer were the two head coaches. But unless the still-unresolved off-field controversy engulfs Butch Jones at some point (and there’s no evidence thus far that it will), this will be a memorable year in Knoxville.

Eh, maybe.  I still want to see Booch’s team climb the mountain first.  Yeah, they lost some close ones last year, but the point is they lost them.  And if he’s right that Alabama’s defense will be better than it was last season, that’s quite the mountain to climb.

But my real question is how hard will the Vols sell out for this game?  If they really give it everything they’ve got and lose, what kind of shape will they be in for their next game, which, although it’s against a team they’ve handled of late, will be their fifth conference game in a row?

Tennessee’s November is what Tennessee’s November usually looks like, so if Georgia is going to win the East, the Vols had best get dinged up before then.

And then there’s this:

5. Auburn will post its second straight losing SEC record

The Tigers improved toward the end of the year last season; that’s pretty much indisputable. And to their credit, they did not quit after a disastrous early-season slide. Trouble is, Auburn still has no answer at quarterback and did not upgrade after changes on the defensive coaching staff. Picking up Vanderbilt on the SEC schedule helps, though Texas A&M and Mississippi State are the only other likely wins on the Tigers’ conference slate. LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama are almost certain losses. Arkansas might be the swing game. A loss in that one would put the Tigers at 3-5 in the league. With a loss to Clemson in the opener (a virtual certainty), Auburn would finish 6-6. Though I’m not 100 percent certain it will happen, I’ll be consistent in what I’ve said in the past. If Gus Malzahn doesn’t win at least eight games this year, he’s done.

Would Auburn really do that?  If Chizik can get fired two seasons after winning a national championship, nothing’s really out of the question on the Plains.

The thing is, the Tigers usually do their best when nothing is expected out of them.  And that’s certainly the case in 2016.  Then again, I look at this schedule and only see seven wins right now.  To notch that eighth one, Gus is going to have to upset somebody.  Even if he doesn’t, is 7-5 bad enough to cost him his job?

72 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

72 responses to “One man’s bold predictions…

  1. The talent gap between UT and Bama is off the charts, even if you factor in UTs strength at qb, the most important position.

    Absent some terrible luck (Ole Miss ’15, auburn ’12) ain’t nobody but LSU gonna give Bama a run until they play Clemson.

    • Jared S.

      I actually think UT’s talent is very comparable to last year’s Clemson team (including the QB position), and I think UT can play Alabama every bit as close as Clemson did last year.

      • I don’t think the offensive line Tennessee has scares Nick Saban. Dobbs is nowhere near the quality of QB that Watson is.

      • I’ll respectfully disagree. Tennessee’s recruiting is only starting to approach Richt’s, and Richt’s didn’t get close to Bama (or LSU).

        Dobbs is good, but he went 13-22 with one TD last year. Not bad, but not great. But he rushed 16 times for 19 yards. The way to beat UT is to contain Dobbs’ running (see Georgia vs. Tennessee, 2015), and Bama is perfectly constructed to do just that. Also Tenn loses their left tackle this year.

        Tennessee does not have the explosive players to beat Bama, which is what is required (Ole Miss, Clemson), along with a lot of luck.

        • I will say that UT is not a top 15 team. Top 25 at best. Highly over rated and will lose at least 4 games 3 of which will be conference games. They are one injury away from losing 7 games….

          • They’re not that bad. There’s three games that will be tough for them.

            Bama – UT will not win this game.
            UGA – They have a strong chance of winning this game. They won last year and return their QB while we have a coward, an idiot, and a freshman. We have more talent, but not where it counts.
            Florida – UT SHOULD win this game, but until they break the streak this will be close. However, Florida’s recruiting has been shit the past three years while UT’s keeps staying strong. All signs point to a UT win.

            TAMU could also be tough for them but I think they win it. On the whole, I think UT could win the east with 2 losses, then lose to Bama again in the West.

            The UT/Georgia game will be huge this year. Winner should win the East.

            BTW – I f-ing hate UT. Things just line up with them this year.

            • Macallanlover

              “while we have a coward, an idiot, and a freshman” at QB

              This is what I hate about a growing element of UGA’s fanbase, they sit behind the screen of a device, or on a bar stool, and run their mouths belittling those who wear, or coach, the Red and Black. Go the hell away.

              • Debby Balcer

                Amen

              • AusDawg85

                Guess who just recently wrote… Maybe it’d be too much to ask our fan base to hope for the best and wish the kid well. Instead, all I hear is a bunch of whining. Hopefully that’s just a bunch of squeaky wheels and not the majority of our fans.

                Spence on his blog, April 27, 2016

                And I only read the blog to see what type of “fan” describes our own 6’5″, 220 lb starting SEC QB a coward.

              • Come on man. You’ve seen me post here enough to know I’m not a player basher. I was blatantly exaggerating for emphasis.

                I’ll refrain from making sweeping generalizations about our fan base. Sorry if I offended you.

                • I will say this though, it’s not wrong to talk about players weaknesses. Insulting them personally isn’t ok, and I guess I did that above even though I thought it was pretty obvious it was tongue in cheek. I don’t agree with the portion of the fan base that thinks just because I wasn’t big enough to play I can’t analyze/criticize/etc. our team.

                  Greyson and Ramsey have some serious deficiencies both of which rest almost entirely between their ears. I’m sure in real life they’ve brave and plenty smart, and yes, just getting on the field is brave. But come action time, their play leaves a lot to be desired, best characterized as being afraid (to stand in pocket or throw down field) and not being smart enough to grasp the playbook, in each case respectively.

                  I guess I give a shit what y’all think and feel bad now.

                  • Macallanlover

                    I think the “coward” and “idiot” characterizations were beyond tongue and cheek. They were mean spirited, and focused on your true opinions of both as confirmed in your 6:03 PM post. Has Ramsey made bad decisions on some of his throws? Yes. Has lambert shown happy feet as time winds down? Yes. Who actually hasn’t done both of these as a QB? Some players never live up to our hopes/expectations, I am OK with that as long as there is effort. Only time I will criticize their performance is when they lay down on us, I haven’t seen that from either (although some report Ramsey not putting in enough time in the film room.) Doesn’t mean we cannot say someone missed a block, dropped a pass, took an unnecessary cheap shot, etc., but coward and idiot are below the belt character assasinations. Just a step above egging someone’s house for a bad game. My point was, I see/hear too much of that from UGA fans. I will acknowledge the “five percent rule” because everyone has them, but our cup runneth over.

                    • Must be nice being the judge, jury, etc.

                      Obviously can’t convince you I didn’t mean to “character assassinate” (what does that actually mean, anyway? Did I kill their character?)

                      Guess I’ll mind my tongue more or plant it further in cheek until it pops out the other side next time.

            • Damn d00d don’t be so harsh in the players. OK to argue about who should start or get playing time but crapping on the players and name calling is just childish.

              • MEA CULPA:

                Brice Ramsey is not an idiot, he just can’t win the starting job after he won it. I’m sorry Brice and all your fans.

                Greyson Lambert is not a coward, he just gets terrified whenever 1.5 seconds go off the clock and he hasn’t checked down. I’m sorry Greyson and all your fans. I look forward to your downfield passes this year.

                Jacob Eason is not a… ok he is a freshman.

                • AusDawg85

                  You had two paths to take…defend the childish characterizations like certain unnamed (cough Derek cough) commentators do or publish a mea culpa. Thank you for choosing the correct course of action. I was only calling you out because I have read enough of your posts to know that the tongue in cheek description was just too harsh. Criticism of play is fine, but as you agree, character assassination is not.

                  • AusDawg85

                    Caveat…I’m ok with character assassination of opposing team’s adults and star players. That’s just having fun!

  2. Macallanlover

    I hope Bama crushes TN badly enough that they limp into November andget slammed by Vandy and a desperate Kentucky.

    Agree that Auburn will struggle to get seven wins, much unrest on The Plains these days so Gus might get the axe if he doesn’t have them looking good enough to make the fans believe a turn around is imminent. You cannot have multi year slides when you are in the recruiting environment Auburn is and you are already stuffing money in their pockets.

    He makes a good point about Vandy’s improving defense and returning starters. I like Shaw but his offense’s have been so bad even a good defense can only keep the losses close. Vandy may catch someone looking, and they aren’t the worst team in the SEC this year.

  3. UGA85

    The UT prediction seems possible based on last year’s game in Tuscaloosa. UT moved the ball well enough to keep the game very close, even though it was the usual low-scoring Bama affair. And dual threat QB’s are like kryptonite for Bama’s D, unless CJP makes significant changes for them this year.

    • Biggus Rickus

      Josh Dobbs is a single threat QB, which is why they only scored 14 points on Bama last year. Maybe he’ll substantially improve as a passer in his final year, but I doubt it.

  4. PTC DAWG

    UT looses at least 4, again.

  5. ASEF

    Gus: I just can’t get a read on the players. If they aren’t buying what Gus is selling, then it’s going to be 7 losses at least. I don’t get the sense Gus has a viable “nobody believes in us” card to.play because his players don’t believe in him anymore.

    Ten: they had everything break their way heading into that game last year and still lost. Butch finds ways to not win games. It tubs off on his players.

  6. Go Dawgs!

    Tennessee surrendered 31 points to the 2015 Georgia Bulldogs AT HOME. The Dawgs were an offensive juggernaut in 2015, obviously, and they lost Nick Chubb on the first play of the damn game. Georgia easily could have and perhaps should have won that game. They dropped four games last year. I’m supposed to believe they’re just going to magically get better because they’re older?

    • Go Dawgs!

      Also, good Lord, Tennessee. That four game stretch vs. Florida, at Georgia, at A&M, and at Alabama in consecutive weeks? That is ROUGH. You guys are earning your November vacation this year!

    • ugafish

      UGA only scored 17 offensive points, though another TD was dropped.

  7. On the author’s predictions:
    1) No way Tennessee beats Alabama even if the game is on the ObKnoxville cow pasture. Alabama’s front 7 will suffocate the Tennessee offense. Josh Dobbs is no Deshaun Watson, enough said.
    2) I would have to agree on the 2 or 3 coaching changes. I think Sumlin and Malzahn are clearly on the hottest seats, and Mason and/or Stoops could be in trouble if their teams don’t perform.
    3) Vandy is terrible on offense … I don’t care what the returning starter statistics say. Mason can coach defense, but they can’t win if they can’t score. It’s telling about how bad the East is if Vandy could finish 4th.
    4) I don’t if the Alabama defense will be better or not, but they have athletes stacked on the depth chart. For that reason alone, I don’t see them taking a step back. I don’t see Saban allowing Pruitt to slim down his defense like Richt did.
    5) I would have to agree. The wheels are officially off the Gus Bus.

  8. Russ

    I think Tennessee is the team to beat in the east, but no way do they beat Bama.

    I can definitely see Gus getting the axe this year. Auburn isn’t that good.

  9. 3rdandGrantham

    IMO, 2016 UT = 1998/2000 UGA. Both UGA teams (especially ’00) were expected to take the next step and contend for the SECC with heightened expectations and many returning starters. Yet both teams fell short and simply couldn’t handle all the attention and new pressure to produce.

    I could see UT’s game with Bama this year playing out just like our ’98 game did with UT. We were slightly favored going in and the atmosphere was off the charts, but man did UT’s lines utterly dominate us, and we never could do a thing on offense. The final score was something like 22-3, but if not for a few Champ Bailey ints and several nice O plays, the score would have been far worse.

    • 3&G, that 1998 game was absolutely awful. All of those Georgia guys that played for Tennessee … ugh. I think Al Wilson just blitzed the “A” gap again.

      I agree with you. Booch is Tennessee’s Jim Donnan, and I would love for him to make a “I’ve been waiting 48 years to coach a team like this” comment.

      • 3rdandGrantham

        It was brutal. I believe ESPN Gameday was there for their first Athens appearance, and as a student we were all jacked about finally beating UT (after finally beating UF the year before). But man was that ever a beat down that again was worse than even the 20 point win indicated.

        Before the game while tailgating, I witnessed a UGA student go up to a UT fan/student of around the same age and start barking right in his face. Before we knew it, both started fighting, and the UT guy totally destroyed the UGA guy, with even his red polo getting ripped apart and basically rendered unwearable afterwards. Little did I know at the time the foreshadowing that fight was responsible for.

        • You are correct … it was GameDay’s first appearance in Athens. The crowd was jacked up, and the team just got flattened. That day was the first of many times that Quincy Carter folded under the pressure of a big game.

          Even drunk, why would anyone go right into someone’s face and start barking? That’s just asking to get your @$$ kicked.

  10. BrightOwl

    No doubt Tenn is better than they were a few years ago, and at some point they will beat Bama again. But I’ll believe they can do it this year if they finally get over the hump against Florida. (Which they have not been able to do for something like eleven or twelve years now.)

    • Exactly this … they had Florida beaten, and then a miracle happened. That’s why I think Florida is in trouble this year – no way they get the breaks they did in 2015. I think UT beats them on the cow pasture. LSU clearly has better players than UF right now. I’m pretty sure Kirby doesn’t want to have a hard landing on his honeymoon with a loss to Florida, so I think he’ll have us ready for Jax. F$U will beat them like a rented mule in Tallahassee. If Florida isn’t good at QB, don’t be surprised if the Vandy defense plays them tough.

  11. W Cobb Dawg

    Dawgs absolutely must beat ut at home. That is all.

    • 81Dog

      Agreed. We should have beaten them in Knoxville last year, and IF Chubb is healthy, we should beat them this year. Even if he isn’t, we should beat them at home. Dobbs is a veteran, but he isn’t a young Joe Montana. Our talent is better than theirs overall, but even if it’s just close, aren’t we supposed to have a big edge in coaching now?

  12. Auburn will be a lot better than people think, presuming their qb can do anything well. Their lines were very young last year and should be killer in 2016. Again, in a system like Gus’ they need a competent qb or they suck, but with better line play and what should be a good defense, I’d look for them to improve signifcantly.

    • 81Dog

      you just planted the seeds of your prediction’s destruction with “presuming their qb can do anything well.” Cam Newton ain’t walking into that locker room this year.

  13. georgiajeepn

    I don’t think the South Carolina game is the trap game for the Vols this year. Texas A&M might be. Georgia is their first road game of the year and they will certainly will be thinking about that game weeks before that. Then in two weeks their whole season could ride on beating Alabama for the first time since 2006. Sandwiched in between those two games is the Aggies. Sitting pretty for an upset when the Vols come to College Station.

  14. Auburn was extremely young along the offensive line last year while trying to break in a new QB. While the QB situation is still in bad bad shape, I think their improved O-Line play will help them out of the doldrums. Will it be enough to beat Bama? Hell no. To beat LSU? Maybe, but I’d expect them to at best split with Ole Miss/LSU. Is 8-4 good enough to keep Gus around?

  15. Cojones

    From the time that Tenn enters the stadium and until they leave, UGA, Chubb and Smart aren’t going to entertain anything except whuppin’that ass. This is a revenge game on our field in the name of Gurly and Chubb. Sic’em Dawgs!

  16. steve

    IMO, the column of ‘bold’ predictions is just morning mist. Easily forgotten and of little real value. What is valuable about this piece, however, is the comments section. This article is posted on the acknowledged official ‘Daily Activities Newsletter from the Ship of Fools (SOF)’ – AL.com. The stories are sort of like hookers. Filled with promise and invading a part of the brain that has been short-circuited by hormone lubricated appetite. In our case, a thirst for any information about CFB during a drought. Anyway, the passengers who read the SOF AL.com Newsletter are prodigious commenters. And the Auburn fans are sprinkled over the comment’s section like a multicolored cupcake top. Moreover, they are predictably 360 head-spinning delusional. And what sets this group apart, IMO, is that they are delusional with authority. Is it possible that dim wits are attracted to Auburn or does association with that clown school make them delusional? Or both? Anyway, here’s hoping there are 20 more victim-less player violations that are overlooked by the coaching staff, they lose 7 games, Georgia uses them like a birthday pinata, and Auburn mistakes liquid for gas and fouls the air in the entire restaurant resulting in the ejection they have longed deserved. Is there a better time to pull out Auburn’s unofficial motto: ‘Prove It!’

  17. Godawg

    Lane Kiffin to the Plains in 2017

  18. Mudcats Impala

    LOL…. Them bammer didn’t like that ish… 1775 comments….

  19. Hopefully not 2012 Derek

    “To notch that eighth one, Gus is going to have to upset somebody. Even if he doesn’t, is 7-5 bad enough to cost him his job?”

    Why are you asking us this? We fire people after 10 wins. Personally, I hope they keep Gus forever.

  20. Sounds about right on Auburn. They get UGA, Bama, and both Mississipi schools on the road. Remind me why Auburn thought it was a good idea to switch up the home and away schedule with UGA?