2015 SEC Preview and Predictions

Is it SEC football season yet? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not yet. But it is getting close! There are only a few more weeks until the best season of the year is finally back.

I don’t know about you, but I can put up with school as long as SEC football is back. I can’t wait for my 3rd year here at the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville is ready for football, and I’m sure the rest of the SEC is as well.

Some people in the media have questioned the dominance of the SEC because they haven’t won a National Championship in the last two seasons. I think that makes no sense whatsoever. Twelve of fourteen teams went to bowl games this season and won 7 (SEC East went 5-0). Alabama went to the playoff (lost to eventual Champs Ohio State). Mississippi State was ranked #1 in the country for 4 straight weeks and they weren’t even the best team in their division. If Florida State had to play the kind of schedule SEC teams have to play, they wouldn’t be championship contenders. All that being said, I do believe that Ohio State and Oregon were the two best teams in the country last year. The SEC won 7 straight BCS National Championships and played in 10 of 16. When another conference does something close to that, then we can talk about the lack of SEC dominance. How many other teams had to face 8 ranked conference opponents like Arkansas had to? And six of those eight teams were ranked in the top 10. Ohio State, Florida State and Oregon played 9 ranked opponents all season (not bowls) combined. And that’s including their conference championship games. Explain to me why that means the SEC is losing its dominance.

Now that I’ve gotten all of that off my chest, let’s get to the predictions and previews for all 14 SEC teams!

SEC West
The SEC West is the toughest division in college football (the HC of the 7th place team will make at least $4 million). Sometimes that means the teams beat each other up and could even knock themselves out of the playoff. When you have to play a ranked team every single week of conference play, chances are you will get beat every once in a while. I think there is a real chance of that happening this season. This season might be one of the most competitive in the West division… And that makes for great football. I think Auburn has the best chance to go undefeated this season and go to the playoff. I might be proven wrong on the first weekend, but that would just make things interesting. Here are my predictions for the SEC West:

1. Auburn (8-0)
2. Alabama (6-2)
2. Arkansas (6-2)
2. LSU (6-2)
5. Ole Miss (4-4)
6. Texas A&M (3-5)
7. Mississippi State (1-7)

Auburn
Predicted SEC Record: 8-0
Wins: at LSU, Mississippi State, at Kentucky, at Arkansas, Ole Miss, at Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama
Losses: none
Auburn has the potential to be a great team this season. The biggest question I have about this team is at the RB position. The Tigers lose their top three rushers but do get a good prospect from JUCO (Jovon Robinson). This team should have no issues catching the ball. The WR’s are proven and will be the offense’s biggest threat. Auburn gets to play Georgia and Alabama at home this season, giving them a nice advantage in those games. I expect the defense to be very good with new coordinator Will Muschamp at the helm. His offenses might not have been great at Florida but his defenses were a force to be reckoned with. Like most seasons, the winner of the Iron Bowl might end up being the winner of the West. I think this Auburn team will be dominant.

Alabama
Predicted SEC Record: 6-2
Wins: Ole Miss, at Georgia, at Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, at Mississippi State
Losses: Arkansas, at Auburn
According to many, Alabama has the country’s toughest schedule. I am definitely one of those people. Not only do they have to face their usual SEC West foes, but they also have to play perhaps the two best teams from the East. As you can see, I think they will be able to get wins against both Georgia and Tennessee, but they won’t be easy wins. And yes, I do have Arkansas going into Bryant-Denny on Homecoming and beating the Tide. I think Bama’s D-line will be a little worn out from trying to stop Georgia’s potent run game, giving the Razorback’s potent run game an edge. I also think Auburn will be too strong on both sides of the ball for Alabama to leave Jordan-Hare with an Iron Bowl victory. Senior Jake Coker will be the QB this season. He loses playmaker Amari Cooper but will get RB Kenyan Drake back from his awful leg injury. Alabama might have a “down” year, but I still believe they will be in contention for the SEC West title and the SEC title.

Arkansas
Predicted SEC Record: 6-2
Wins: Texas A&M (Arlington), at Tennessee, at Alabama, at Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri
Losses: Auburn, at LSU
If you don’t know, I am a student at the University of Arkansas and a life long Razorback fan. That being said, I do my best not to let that interfere with my predictions. I think this Arkansas team is one no one else wants to play. Every team they will face knows that they are going to run the ball and then run it some more. The Hogs got a new OC this year in Dan Enos (HC at Central Michigan last year) who will (hopefully) get the WRs and TEs more involved in the offense. Even though Arkansas doesn’t have a big name at the receiver position, there is a lot of talent. The secondary is my biggest concern after losing some major defensive players. I don’t think the Hogs will have too much trouble stopping the run but they could have trouble with teams like Texas A&M, Auburn and LSU. The fans in Fayetteville are extremely excited for Bret Bielema’s 3rd season as head coach (especially after the whopping they gave to Texas). I expect the Hogs to be ranked most (if not all) of this season.

LSU
Predicted SEC Record: 6-2
Wins: at Mississippi State, at South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, at Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Losses: Auburn, at Alabama
LSU returns most of their offensive weapons this season including star RB Leonard Fournette. The Tigers do have to replace two of their offensive line (C, RG), which could be an issue. LSU had trouble with teams like Wisconsin and Arkansas (coincidence? I think not) last year. It’s hard to run an offense when you don’t have good blocking. The Tigers have a lot of talent at the WR position. If the O-line can give Harris (or Jennings) enough time, there will be some long TD passes this season. Their defense will need to be more consistent this season if they want to be competitive in this division. I’m predicting that LSU will go 6-2, but there are a couple games that could easily go the other way.

Ole Miss
Predicted SEC Record: 4-4
Wins: Vanderbilt, at Florida, Texas A&M, at Mississippi State
Losses: at Alabama, at Auburn, Arkansas, LSU
Ole Miss has to replace QB Bo Wallace this year, a fact I’m pretty sure gets mixed reactions in Oxford. When he was good he was a pretty good QB, but when he was bad… (see last year’s game vs Arkansas). Last year the defense was exceptional until the Auburn game. Will the Landsharks be able to put a full season together this time around? The Auburn game was also the last game that WR Laquon Treadwell played in. He returns and is expected to be a big play guy. It will be interesting to see how well this offense runs with a new QB. They might need to rely on the defense even more than they did last season.

Texas A&M
Predicted SEC Record: 3-5
Wins: Mississippi State, South Carolina, at Vanderbilt
Losses: Arkansas (Arlington), Alabama, at Ole Miss, Auburn, at LSU
The Aggies had no trouble scoring last season, but they did have some trouble on defense. They have a new DC (John Chavis, last 6 years as LSU DC) and are hoping for an immediate improvement. Texas A&M finished last season with a win over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl (A&M and Arkansas were the only 2 West teams to win a bowl) and are looking to carry that momentum into a tough opener against Arizona State in Houston. This team only has to leave the state of Texas 3 times this season and will host 7 games in the newly renovated Kyle Field. A&M has a chance to be very good this year and might make some games very close. I guess we will find out when the season gets here.

Mississippi State
Predicted SEC Record: 1-7
Wins: Kentucky
Losses: LSU, at Auburn, at Texas A&M, at Missouri, Alabama, at Arkansas, Ole Miss
Mississippi State was an exciting team to watch last season and was ranked #1 in the country for 4 straight weeks before losing to Alabama. This year they only return 7 starters. And while one of those 7 is QB Dak Prescott, I don’t think he will be enough to get this team where it was last season. This team does well when it puts up a lot of points because they don’t have the greatest defense. I still think they will be able to score, but I don’t think they will be able to hold their opponents to low scores. The Bulldogs might be able to pull a few upsets if they are underestimated.

SEC East
The biggest question of this season in the East has to be will Missouri be able to go to a third straight SEC Championship game? Personally, I don’t think so. I believe the team to beat this season is Tennessee. They showed some flashes of greatness with a very young team last year and return a lot of starters. Like most seasons, I think Georgia will be near the top of the division and will give almost every team they play a run for their money. I expect Missouri to contend as well. Here are my predictions for the SEC East:

1. Tennessee (6-2)
2. Georgia (5-3)
3. Missouri (5-3)
4. Florida (3-5)
5. South Carolina (2-6)
6. Kentucky (1-7)
7. Vanderbilt (0-8)

Tennessee
Predicted SEC Record: 6-2
Wins: at Florida, Georgia, at Kentucky, South Carolina, at Missouri, Vanderbilt
Losses: Arkansas, at Alabama
Last year Tennessee needed to beat Vanderbilt in the final game of the regular season to become bowl eligible, a feat they barely accomplished. They went on to beat Iowa by 17 points in the bowl game and will look to build off that momentum going into this season. The Vols are returning 18 starters from last season’s very young team. This is the main reason I am picking them to win the East. This team is experienced. They do have to face Alabama and Arkansas this season and I think those will be the only two losses. They do run the risk of being overconfident and overhyped. I guess we will just have to wait a few more weeks to find out if this team is really as good as everyone is predicting.

Georgia
Predicted SEC Record: 5-3
Wins: at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Missouri, Florida (Jacksonville), Kentucky
Losses: Alabama, at Tennessee, at Auburn
Georgia is a frequent front-runner in the SEC East and I believe this year will be no different. This Bulldogs team has one of the best rushing attacks in the country led by last year’s freshman phenom Nick Chubb. Georgia has to play Alabama and Auburn this season and I’d be extremely impressed if they were able to upset either of these teams. They also have to go to Knoxville to play an experienced Tennessee team. UGA will have a new starting QB this season now that Hutson Mason is gone. Georgia will also be looking to get revenge on both South Carolina and Florida after two bad losses last season. I expect Georgia to be in contention for the SEC East title this season.

Missouri
Predicted SEC Record: 5-3
Wins: at Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida, at Vanderbilt, Mississippi State
Losses: at Georgia, Tennessee, at Arkansas
Remember when Missouri and Texas A&M joined the SEC and there were people who thought neither team deserved to be in this conference? A&M beat a top-ranked Alabama team in their first season and have been to a bowl game in all 3 seasons they have been in the SEC. Missouri only went 5-7 in their first season in the conference, but have since won back-to-back SEC East titles. QB Maty Mauk returns again this season along with TB Russell Hansbrough. The Tigers do lose two big time players on the defense in Shane Ray and Markus Golden. Both will be difficult to replace. They also lose the majority of their receiving core. It will be interesting to see if Missouri can contend for the SEC East title again this season.

Florida
Predicted SEC Record: 3-5
Wins: at Kentucky, Vanderbilt, at South Carolina
Losses: Tennessee, Ole Miss, at Missouri, at LSU, Georgia (Jacksonville)
After a dismal couple of years in Gainesville, the Gators have hired a new Head Coach. Jim McElwain comes to Florida from Colorado State where he won 10 games last season. I don’t have extremely high hopes for this team this season. Florida has been known for their defense under Will Muschamp so I’m not sure how good either side of the ball will be this season. But as long as the defense blocks the other team and not themselves it will be a successful season.

South Carolina
Predicted SEC Record: 2-6
Wins: Kentucky, Vanderbilt
Losses: at Georgia, at Missouri, LSU, at Texas A&M, at Tennessee, Florida
South Carolina had a tough start to the season last year with the big loss to Texas A&M. Then they beat Georgia two weeks later and it seemed like maybe the A&M loss was a fluke, but it wasn’t. This team was close in most games last season but couldn’t seem to finish. They lose the majority of their offensive yards in QB Dylan Thompson and RB Mike Davis. This team gave up a lot of points last season and will need to be better this season if they want to improve on their wins. I’m not all that confident in this team but you never count Steve Spurrier out.

Kentucky
Predicted SEC Record: 1-7
Wins: at Vanderbilt
Losses: at South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Auburn, at Mississippi State, Tennessee, at Georgia
Kentucky started the season 5-1 (the 1 being a loss in triple OT at Florida) but ended the season with 6 straight losses. The Wildcats are a team that could surprise a lot of people. Their defense will need to be greatly improved if they want to start winning on a consistent basis. They gave up at least 36 points in all but 2 SEC games last season, making it very hard to win. They do return their QB, Patrick Towles, the star of the South Carolina game, TB Jojo Kemp, and last year’s leading rusher, Stanley Williams. This team might be improved from last year but I don’t think that means their record will be better, but don’t sleep on Kentucky.

Vanderbilt
Predicted SEC Record: 0-8
Wins: none
Losses: Georgia, at Ole Miss, at South Carolina, Missouri, at Florida, Kentucky, Texas A&M, at Tennessee
James Franklin took this team to three straight bowls and won two of them in his three seasons in Nashville. Derek Mason has not been so lucky. QB Patton Robinette decided to end his football career after spring practice was over. This team returns almost all of its starters from last season but that doesn’t mean that they will be an improved team. I’m not even really sure that this team will get to two total wins. They open the season with a good Western Kentucky team. They also have to play Houston and Middle Tennessee (both bowl eligible last season). Austin Peay might be their only win. But a team with no expectations can be very dangerous. Don’t be surprised if Vandy pulls out a win in SEC play.

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Posted in 2015 Season, Football
One comment on “2015 SEC Preview and Predictions
  1. vegasdeb says:

    Looks like you’re off to a great start!

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CFP Top 25

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Alabama
4. Penn State

5. Clemson
6. Georgia
7. Oregon
8. Utah
9. Oklahoma
10. Florida
11. Auburn
12. Baylor
13. Wisconsin
14. Michigan
15. Notre Dame
16. Kansas State
17. Minnesota
18. Iowa
19. Wake Forest
20. Cincinnati
21. Memphis
22. Boise State
23. Oklahoma State
24. Navy
25. SMU

AP Top 25

1. LSU (9-0,5-0)
2. Ohio State (9-0,6-0)
3. Clemson (10-0,7-0)
4. Alabama (8-1,5-1)
5. Georgia (8-1,5-1)
6. Oregon (8-1,5-1)
7. Minnesota (9-0,6-0)
8. Utah (8-1,5-1)
9. Penn State (8-1,5-1)
10. Oklahoma (8-1,5-1)
11. Florida (8-2,5-2)
12. Baylor (9-0,6-0)
13. Auburn (7-2,4-2)
14. Michigan (7-2,4-2)
15. Wisconsin (7-2,4-2)
16. Notre Dame (7-2)
17. Cincinnati (8-1,5-0)
18. Memphis (8-1,4-1)
19. Boise State (8-1,5-0)
20. SMU (9-1,5-1)
21. Navy (7-1,5-1)
*22. Texas (6-3,4-2)
23. Iowa (6-3,3-3)
*24. Indiana (7-2,4-2)
*25. Oklahoma State (6-3,3-3)

Dropped Out: 20Kansas State (6-3,3-3), 22Wake Forest (7-2,3-2), 24San Diego State (7-2,4-2)

*New Team

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