Early thoughts on the SEC East race

Prompted by yesterday’s “Bold Predictions” post and my observation that if nobody catches Tennessee before the first week of November, the Vols are likely headed to Atlanta, I thought I’d take a look at the calendar and see how the SEC East race might shape up in that regard.

Here’s the 2016 SEC football schedule.  Assuming for the sake of argument that there are three contenders in the division – Florida, Georgia and Tennessee – my knee-jerk reaction to Urnge November is pretty accurate.  First of all, Florida and Georgia both play only two conference games in November, so that limits their ability to play catch up if UT leads at that point.

Again, remember the Vols close out with their usual November gauntlet, in this case, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt, with only the last game being on the road.  Florida has to go on the road for both of its November conference match ups, against Arkansas and South Carolina.  Georgia splits its two, but one is against a big rival, Auburn.  So the Dawgs and Gators have both quantity and quality working against them.

Tennessee does have that rough earlier stretch of five straight conference games, although the last of those is separated with a bye week, but if it can come out splitting the first four, particularly if those two wins come against Florida and Georgia, it’s hard to see how the race isn’t over, regardless of which team wins the Cocktail Party this year.  Bottom line:  in terms of playing in the SEC championship game, there are conference games Georgia can lose and survive, but beating Tennessee in Athens probably isn’t one of them.

Of course, if Vanderbilt rises up and shocks the nation, you can forget what I just wrote.

30 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

30 responses to “Early thoughts on the SEC East race

  1. Butch Jones’s seat will be on fire if he fails to win the East this year. I like Tenn to win 10 games, as much as it pains me to say that.

  2. Noonan

    UT @ Vandy will probably be a tougher game than Auburn @ UGA.

  3. @gatriguy

    Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but this season looks like it has 2005 written all over it for Tennessee. Tons of love based off a fool’s gold 2004, but just no real substance there.

    Could be wrong, but I see a total meltdown for Butch this year.

  4. 3rdandGrantham

    The good news for us is that the pressure is mostly off, in which all eyes will be on UT while expecting them to come out of the east this year. Butch and Co. have a track record of melt downs in big games, and this year the pressure will be intensified more due again to the high expectations there.

    By the way, when was the last time UT was predicted to win the east? I’m guessing its been at least 7-8 years, probably longer (2005?). Not only that, but they are overwhelming favorites to get to the SECC in Atlanta based on various media predictions and the like. With all that said, I agree that we pretty much have to beat UT at home to have any chance of getting to the dome, as I see a loss at OM with UF being a toss-up.

  5. PTC DAWG

    Been a few years since the favorite won the East…since Ut will be the favorite, look for it to hold true again….no prize for the Vols

  6. W Cobb Dawg

    From a UGA angle, I think it comes down to 3 factors. 1. Chubb’s return and production; 2. Whether we go with Eason and how quickly he adapts; and 3. how well Shoop, ut’s new DC, adjusts to the job.

    I don’t see fu challenging this year. If ut’s D improves significantly under Shoop it’ll be tough to keep them out of the sece. But if he has trouble the first half of the season, it might not matter what happens in November – like 2015. If Chubb and/or Eason can light a fire under the Dawgs offense we could win the division.

    • Cojones

      It’s all up to the D, Tenn’s and UGA’s. That’s where this game rides and why we will beat them. You can preach names all year, but it’s up to those two units.

      • dawgtired

        If our DL is where it should be at this point, I like our chances. No way we should have lost that game last year. Interesting thing is, both teams will have played tough conference games the week before. UT vs UF and UGA Vs OM…the outcome of those games could screw with the psyche.

  7. Normaltown Mike

    So long as Butch keeps the majority of his team in urnge game day jerseys instead of urnge county issued jumpsuits, they look like a clear favorite.

  8. hassan

    At least UT is in Athens this year. That should keep the number of ACL injuries below double digits.

  9. Dog in Fla

    Forty eight years and ten months (n.) – the amount of time needed for Urnge November to demolish Butch Jones’ coaching career at Tennessee.

  10. SouthernYank

    I see a lot of fantasy above. Sure, a much younger UT team had some meltdowns – against VERY good teams – ,but they are not young any longer. It’s the SEC and anything can happen, but lets look at their schedule – I don’t see any possible losses, other than maybe UGA or Bama (and you can recall, I looked at UGA’s and only picked them losing to UT):

    AppSt – W
    VATech – W – new coach and a huge UT home game at Bristol
    Ohio (NOT St.) – W
    UF – W – UF had not business winning last year – and they’re less talented this year.
    UGA – W – this game is going to be tough, but UT is more experienced
    A&M – W
    Bama – W – I think UT wins this – at home and Bama lost a ton.
    SC – W
    TennTech – W
    Kent – W
    Mizzou – W
    Vandy – W

    Bama is the toughest game followed closely by UGA. Then UF and maybe A&M, only because it’s at A&M. This schedule is much easier than their schedule last year, which included Oklahoma. Can anyone here truly say they lose more than 3 games? I don’t see that as even remotely a possibility. I see an undefeated season for them as more likely than 3 losses.

    • SouthernYank

      And if UT beats UGA, UGA has to hope Bama can keep it up AND pray for A&M to beat them – which is not going to happen.

    • “Bama lost a ton.” They also have more 5-star recruits on their lines of scrimmage than many teams do total. If Little Nicky and Junior find a QB, they have all of the other pieces. Bama doesn’t rebuild … they reload.

    • Uglydawg

      You picked them to beat UGA last year, but how wrong you would have been had Chubb not been hurt. Georgia was the better team.

  11. Semper Fi Dawg

    it doesn’t matter b/c they can’t beat whoever comes out of the west…..

    • Uglydawg

      If they do win the East, it will almost certainly be with a loss to Alabama marring their record. The second loss to Alabama will be closer but still a loss. Now IF Tennessee should beat Alabama in the regular season, they will be in for a beat down by a determined Saban in the SECCG.

  12. dawgtired

    “The second loss to Alabama will be closer but…”

    I’m not sure about that…that would mean Booch did a better job at adjusting than Saban.

  13. 69Dawg

    I am reminded of what a University of Cincinnati alum told me when UT hired Butch away from them. He basically said that Butch was the worst on the field coach he had ever seen and he was glad to see him go. I was surprised by this but he pointed out that Butch had made his living following Brian Kelly and he was sure it would catch up with him, taking over a SEC school that was on hard times. Given the way UT lost some games the last few years I think the guy was right about Butch and his on the field coaching. We will see.

    • Mayor

      Correct 69. If Georgia hadn’t imploded in the last 2 minutes of the first half and the entire second half last season UT wouldn’t even have gone to a bowl–the Vols would have folded up like a tent the rest of the season and Booch would have been fired.

  14. UGA: 6-2 (Ls: @MS, UF)
    UT: 6-2 (Ls: @GA, AL)
    UF: 5-3 (Ls: @UT, LSU, @AR)

  15. Derek

    Hate to hijack a thread here, but I can’t help myself. Can somebody find Jeff sentell a map?

    https://www.dawgnation.com/football/recruiting/vital-uga-target-has-uga-in-his-top-2-and-a-unique-take-on-kirby-smart

    Does he think the university of Alabama is in Montgomery?

  16. charlottedawg

    Tennessee as the east favorite? Bama and Florida are still on the schedule right? They haven’t beaten either one in how many years?

  17. DawgPhan

    UGA has recruited better than UT over the last 5 years. We are also at home. I would classify any game where we lose at home to an inferior team as shitting the bed.

    Detail focused coaches dont shit the bed against inferior teams.

    is that how this works? I am new at it.

    • dawgtired

      Dawgs247 rankings – the last 4 years,
      2016 GA-7, UT-14
      2015 UT-4, GA-5
      2014 UT-7, GA-8
      2013 GA-12, UT-24
      2012 GA-8, UT-20
      we’ve had 3 classes better and 2 classes basically even. Not checking the attrition for both schools I’d say our talent depth is a little better but not enough to really boast about. We had the game in hand last year and never should have lost. If our DL materializes as it should, our team should be as good or better in all areas. Plus it’s ‘tween the hedges, so….

      • DawgPhan

        Looks like we have out recruited everyone on our schedule. The only difference would be that Ole Miss is on the road, but we have a better team than they do. At least we should. I suspect that our recruiting rankings would drop significantly when you back out the guys that are no longer on the team.

        Anyway, we should really rock UT in Athens.

  18. Macallanlover

    Neither team looks to be substantially better than the other in the TN and UGA race for the East. Schedules look pretty balanced, I think it comes down to who has significant injuries in the key matchups. UGA having home field, and motivation to make up for that gift last year, may also be the deciding blow. They aren’t better talent wise, and Sgt Carter is a basket case on the side lines when it gets crunch time.