Not your regular SEC preseason predictions, 2020 edition

To be perfectly honest with you, I thought about taking a pass on making preseason picks this go ’round, because 2020 has the potential to make 2007 look sane and rational.  In the end, in the spirit of “eh, what the hell”, I’ve decided to plow ahead.  Besides, if I whiff badly, I’ll just blame it on COVID.

Before I get started, allow me the usual caveat about the format, which will be ignored by the usual four or five commenters.

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 [last season’s] conference order of finish.  Remember that, before you start freaking out over where a school shows up in this post.

Don’t say I didn’t warn ‘ya.  And with that, on to my picks.

SEC WEST

LSU (15-0, 8-0)

  • Pros:  Defensive backfield; recruiting; cross-division schedule
  • Cons:  Severe personnel losses from last year’s national championship team; Brady departure; defensive scheme change
  • Outlook:  They recruit very well and that can’t hurt, but they have so much to overcome it’s hard to see how the Tigers avoid a drop off.  The good news is they play Vanderbilt, Missouri and South Carolina from the East, so the drop won’t be too far.  8-2 looks about right.

ALABAMA (11-2, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Virtually unmatched depth; Nick Saban and The Process; running back; wide receiver; offensive line; special teams
  • Cons:  Replacement of Tua
  • Outlook:  The Tide lost two regular season games in 2019.  I can’t see that happening in 2020, as this is a team that is better built to weather the pandemic storm than any other program in the conference, and probably the country.  One loss, maybe — and that seems a stretch.

AUBURN (9-4, 5-3)

  • Pros:  Kevin Steele knows what he’s doing; linebacker
  • Cons:  Another hyped change in offensive scheme with Chad Morris; running back; losses on defensive line; defensive back
  • Outlook:  The Tigers are getting hyped, being ranked in the preseason top 10 by several outlets.  It’s all going to depend on Cox’ growth and Gus’ rabbit’s foot.  For now, split the baby with seven wins.

TEXAS A&M (8-5, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Offensive line; cross-division schedule; defensive back
  • Cons:  Linebacker; special teams; opt-out attrition rate
  • Outlook:  The conventional wisdom is that TAMU, freed from its brutal 2019 schedule, is a likely breakout candidate.  Eh, maybe.  Everyone’s been expecting Jimbo to coax greatness out of Kellen Mond; time is running out for that.  And the departure of his top receivers doesn’t help.  Seven wins is what that all adds up to.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Running back; quarterback; defensive line; kicking game
  • Cons:  Defense; offensive line; special teams; radical change in offensive scheme; schedule
  • Outlook:  I like the Costello pick up, provided he stays healthy, but the Air Raid is dependent on timing and not having spring practice definitely hurts in that department.  Defense isn’t going to be good this season.  MSU should be peskier as the season progresses, but there’s only so much you can do when over half the teams on the schedule are preseason top 25.  All told, looks like three wins to me.

OLE MISS (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Running back; punter; quarterback
  • Cons:  Deteriorating team depth; coaching changeover; defense
  • Outlook:  The Laner will be presented with the check for NCAA sanctions, as the roster is a mess.  Three wins is about it.

ARKANSAS (2-10, 0-8)

  • Pros:  The Hogs can’t be any worse than they were last year; running back; offensive line
  • Cons:  Defense; special teams; schedule; new coaching staff
  • Outlook:  Poor Sam.  But Pittman can’t say he didn’t know what he was getting into.  Looks like a third straight year without a conference win from here.

SEC EAST

GEORGIA (12-2, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Overall roster depth on par with Alabama; defense; experienced coaching staff
  • Cons:  Special teams; quarterback; receiving depth
  • Outlook:  The defense is going to be special.  The question is how much will the offense improve.  Smart has upgraded at offensive coordinator, but the experience level at quarterback has to be a concern.  Regular season loss to Alabama seems almost inevitable, but unless the offense regresses from its 2019 level, it’s hard to call for another one.

FLORIDA (11-2, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Staff stability; quarterback; tight end; secondary; special teams; schedule
  • Cons:  Depth at offensive line; running back
  • Outlook:  Mullen, whatever his warts, is a good coach.  The schedule is going to make him look good this season.  The o-line shouldn’t be an outright liability, but the running game looks to be weak and that means he has to rely on Trask the passer more than he likes.  Trask was lucky with turnovers last season; will that continue in 2020?  Two losses is my pick.

TENNESSEE (8-5, 5-3)

  • Pros:  Left side of o-line; running back; kickers; improving defense
  • Cons:  Quarterback; receivers
  • Outlook:    Yes, they’re better, but when the season likely comes down to Guarantano becoming a consistent starter, the Vols probably don’t have as bright a future as they hope.  Five wins.

KENTUCKY (8-5; 3-5)

  • Pros:  Coaching stability; offensive line; experienced roster
  • Cons:  Running back; receiver; special teams
  • Outlook:  Stoops is a good coach.  This isn’t the deepest roster, but it’s stocked with experienced players.  Let’s say five wins.

MISSOURI (6-6, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Defense
  • Cons:  Total rebuild on offense; schedule; new coaching staff; special teams
  • Outlook:  Normally, the Tigers use a soft early schedule to build momentum into the conference season.  That ain’t gonna happen in 2020, as six of Mizzou’s first seven games are against ranked opponents.  The final quarter is soft, but they’re gonna get the crap beat out of them before they get there.  Three wins, maybe four.

SOUTH CAROLINA (4-8, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Improving talent level; upgrade at offensive coordinator; defensive backfield
  • Cons:  Running back; linebacker; schedule
  • Outlook:  The schedule is a killer.  Bobo may help, but he won’t help that much.  Hard to see where Boom scratches out more than three wins.

VANDERBILT (3-9, 1-7)

  • Pros:  Linebacker
  • Cons:  Schedule; overall lowest talent level in the division
  • Outlook:  It’s a shame the ‘Dores don’t play Arkansas, just so we could get a definitive answer on which of the two is the conference’s worse.  Winless 2020, coming up.

That’s all I got.  And you?

23 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

23 responses to “Not your regular SEC preseason predictions, 2020 edition

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    There is Georgia football this week! Can I get an Amen brothas!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GruvenDawg

    Looks about right, UGA vs Bama in SECCG to see who makes the playoffs. With the BIG 10 playing, can almost guarantee OSU is one of the 4, which means only one SEC team is getting into the playoffs.

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  3. Scotty King

    Did Muschamp’s son sign with UGA knowing Dad would be working for Kirby next year?

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  4. Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

    I only disagree with you in two places:

    Florida loses 3-4 games this season.

    Kentucky wins 7 games and finishes second on the East.

    Other than that, well-reasoned. Unlike almost the entirety of the national CFB Media who’ve bought into the narrative that “THIS IS THE YEAR!” Sideshow Dan the Clown finally beats Kirby and wins a division.

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    • Florida loses 3-4 games this season.

      Not with that schedule. You’re letting your heart rule your head.

      UK has some nice pieces, but plenty of holes, too. And the ‘Cats don’t have the depth to keep up with UF… maybe not UT, for that matter.

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      • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

        Perhaps, but I see Floriduh’s losses: UGA, LSU, and then either TAMU or UK or both.

        MuLLLen has already lost to Kentucky, so it can happen. I happen to believe TAMU will be on FU’s level this year and will actually be deeper if the last two years of recruiting is to be believed, and I believe it.

        Given that, I feel good in making a 7-3 prediction.

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        • It’s gone somewhat under the radar, but TAMU has had quite a few players opt out. The receiving corps, in particular, has been hollowed out.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

            Oh… well, that certainly does change my prediction then.

            So I can see FU going 8-2, but, I can still also see them losing to Kentucky. So I will allow that 7-3 is a possibility. And if they lose to us and LSU, and lose to Kentucky and both FU and UK finish 7-3 then the Wildcats would finish second in the East.

            So you’re saying there’s a chance?!?!

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            • I would love to see UK pull it off, but I’m not sure they have the horses to hold up. Bowden is gone. They don’t have a passing game. Defensively, they’re a little questionable, particularly in the back seven. They’re gonna need some injury luck, too.

              Hate to say it, but UT has a better chance of finishing second than UK.

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              • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

                They have a great offensive line and a good QB. Bowden may be gone, but Wilson is a good QB. People have forgotten that.

                A great offensive line and a good QB can win you a lot of games in the SEC. No one knows the better than we do the last three years.

                If I didn’t believe that I have the power to jinx teams with my literal bad luck (any time I make a bet, even a good bet that makes sense, I almost always lose… if I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all), I would put real money on UK to beat FU.

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                • Wilson’s passer ratings: 133.94 and 134.30. He can run a little, which is nice, but he’s a stretch away from good. Besides that, who’s he throwing to this season?

                  UK’s o-line is better than UF’s, no question, but I can’t find another position group where the ‘Cats have clear superiority over UF, while UF is definitely better at WR and defense. Also, game is next to the last week of the season, which favors the team with more depth. That ain’t Kentucky.

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                • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

                  Those are some good points, and I’d counter with FU will literally have nothing to play for by the time their game starts. Georgia’s only loss coming to Bama with FU having already lost to Georgia and LSU, they would have no chance of winning the East.

                  Think about how it sets up: Georgia-Sakerlina is the noon game on SECN. Georgia beats Sakerlina handedly and clinches the East. FU-UK is the 7:30 game on ESPN2, the Floriduh players are deflated and come out in a funk knowing yet another Peach Bowl is their only reward whereas UK players have a chance to finish 2nd in the East for the first time ever and go to a NY6 Bowl for the first time in decades, like to the Peach Bowl in a city that Big Blue Nation loves.

                  I’m telling ya, Senator… the possibility of setting up for the picture-perfect upset is there. Almost like it’s destined to happen. 😉

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                • Florida’s record in November after the Cocktail Party under Mullen is 6-1, so I’m saying you’ve got a chance. 😉

                  Like

                • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

                  Well, Chris Wright is hoping for his version of a “great story,” and I guess I’m hoping for mine. UK beating FU, finishing second in the East, and then getting to play in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta is a great story. Hah!

                  Like

  5. godawgs1701

    It stings to read that you’ve basically written Georgia off in the trip to Tuscaloosa, Senator. I agree, that’s the toughest game on the schedule and it isn’t really close for the second-toughest game. That said, it likely isn’t going to be as challenging as a typical trip to Tuscaloosa thanks to a smaller crowd. Defense travels, and we certainly have a defense to take with us to Alabama. The Crimson Tide defense is going to be a truly daunting task for whoever ends up at quarterback, but… I don’t know, you may be write, but I don’t see the loss as “inevitable” yet. Let’s see how we look by about week 3 or so.

    Reading your predictions for teams like Mississippi and MSU, etc. it really strikes me how badly an SEC-only schedule hurts the second and third tier teams this year. Without three or four non-conference scheduling gifts, the difference between going 8-4 and 3-7 really hurts.

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    • My thinking is pretty basic: UGA is ‘Bama’s equal in terms of overall depth and preparation, but falls a little short is what I’d call game-changing talent. I can’t ignore the advantages the Tide has with the conference’s best running back, best receiving corps and best o-line.

      Nothing’s impossible, of course — hell, a clearly inferior Auburn team beat UA last year — but it’s gonna be an uphill climb.

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      • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

        If Gus Bus has done anything in his career, it’s being able to beat Bama when he never, ever should.

        When he’s fired at Auburn, whenever that is, if Kirby doesn’t make him a highly paid GA or consultant or whatever, that would be malfeasance on Smart’s part.

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  6. TripleB

    I have two big concerns with Georgia. First, we play two of our hardest games early (Auburn and Alabama) with Tennessee and Kentucky thrown in early as well. Also, our schedule is harder than Florida’s. Whoever plays QB better get on the horse quick.

    I’m looking at Alabama like I used to look at Florida, it’s like the curse we can’t cure right now. However, unlike with Florida for two decades, we don’t seem to play Alabama like we’re scared of them. I’m hopeful!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    I would add that aubie lost 4 starters on the OL too. That’s 7 of the 9 starters from the trenches (OL & DL) gone from last year’s team.

    The sec west lost a LOT of talent overall. I expect us and bama to tower over the rest of the conference. No out of conference patsies to pad the win column for everyone either.

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  8. spur21

    I think UT will beat the Gators and the Gators will lose to LSU – UGA & TAMU.

    Like