2020 SEC Preview

It might be a month later than usual, but the SEC is back! The best conference will only be playing the best conference this season in which everyone will play their 6 division foes as well as 4 cross-division games. Arkansas (somehow) drew Georgia and Florida for their two extra games, cementing the toughest schedule in the country. We have waited long enough for football. Here is just a little more analysis before we actually learn what teams are good. Like always, I just think it is interesting to go game by game before the season, even if it is futile. I like looking back and laughing at what I thought I knew.

SEC West

1. Alabama (10-0)
2. Auburn (7-3)
3. Texas A&M (7-3)
4. LSU (6-4)
5. Ole Miss (4-6)
6. Mississippi State (3-7)
7. Arkansas (0-10)

Alabama
Predicted SEC Record: 10-0
Wins: at Missouri, Texas A&M, at Ole Miss, Georgia, at Tennessee, Mississippi State, at LSU, Kentucky, Auburn, at Arkansas
Losses: none
Everything is crazy right now, but I know I can count on Nick Saban to field a strong team and win games. Alabama is going to have to deal with life after Tua, but Mac Jones has been a promising QB with some real experience because of Tua’s injuries. Their toughest game should be Georgia (a game I think will happen twice). Tuscaloosa has really struggled with containing Covid, and that does concern me for the future, but based solely on the team, they are still Alabama. The Tide are not the most experienced team this season, but I know they are prepared.

Auburn
Predicted SEC Record: 7-3
Wins: Kentucky, Arkansas, at South Carolina, at Ole Miss, at Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M
Losses: at Georgia, LSU, at Alabama
There are a lot of questions with this Auburn team. They have been pretty good over the last few years, but I think the fanbase is getting upset with not being better than a 9-win team. QB Bo Nix is back for his sophomore season and should be improved this year. Chad Morris will be calling plays for the Tigers and that doesn’t inspire much confidence in me. Maybe he will be able to install more than 20% of the offensive playbook over the first two years here. I guess it is also lucky for him that they don’t have to face the Mountain West this season.

Texas A&M
Predicted SEC Record: 7-3
Wins: Vanderbilt, at Mississippi State, Arkansas, at South Carolina, at Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU
Losses: at Alabama, Florida, at Auburn
This Aggie team is expected to be very good, but I haven’t been impressed by A&M since Johnny Manziel was there. They are a very experienced team this season and it is Jimbo Fisher’s third season at the helm. Kellen Mond returns at QB for his senior season to help out his team. Texas A&M has been good but not great for a long time and I expect that to remain the same this year, continuing to prove that no coach is worth $75 million, especially not Jimbo.

LSU
Predicted SEC Record: 6-4
Wins: Mississippi State, at Vanderbilt, Missouri, South Carolina, at Arkansas, Ole Miss
Losses: at Florida, at Auburn, Alabama, at Texas A&M
This team will be completely different from last season’s National Championship team. The Tigers return almost no one from that historic offense and less than half of the defense. I think they will still be a decent team with Coach O at the helm, but I don’t see them having the same success. They do benefit from a relatively easy schedule as far as the SEC goes. We really won’t get to know much about this team until they start playing.

Ole Miss
Predicted SEC Record: 4-6
Wins: at Arkansas, at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State
Losses: Florida, at Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn, at Texas A&M, at LSU
All aboard the Lane Train! Lane Kiffin is back in the SEC as a head coach after doing very well at Florida Atlantic. I think his arrival in Oxford will yield a spark in this offense, but I’m not sure how much that will help in year one. This team should be really fun to watch against evenly matched teams. The Egg Bowl should be must watch TV near the end of the season. I expect them to have the ability to score on almost anyone this season and that will give them the chance to win some games, and maybe even upset a team or two.

Mississippi State
Predicted SEC Record: 3-7
Wins: Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Missouri
Losses: at LSU, at Kentucky, Texas A&M, at Alabama, Auburn, at Georgia, at Ole Miss
The Bulldogs have the other crazy new head coach in the SEC West. Mike Leach joins the best division in college football (ok, maybe it isn’t this year) and will bring his air-raid offense with him. He will have QB KJ Costello (grad transfer from Stanford) to run this new offense. This team will be fun to watch. They will probably need to score at least 35 points to win any of their games, but they are set up to do that. We might end up with some SEC after dark madness but in the middle of the afternoon.

Arkansas
Predicted SEC Record: 0-10
Wins: none
Losses: Georgia, at Mississippi State, at Auburn, Ole Miss, at Texas A&M, Tennessee, at Florida, LSU, at Missouri, Alabama
There is a new head Hog this season in Sam Pittman. Chad Morris was fired after being the (statistically) worst coach in program history. He got in the left lane and went 65 in a 75 and wouldn’t let anyone pass him. Sam Pittman coached the great O-lines for Bret Bielema and coached Georgia’s OL for the last four seasons. He seems to be well liked by the players and I really hope he has at least gotten them to be competitive. I don’t have high expectations for wins, but I expect them to play hard and at least be competent on the field. Feleipe Franks also transferred from Florida to play QB, so that will be interesting to see. I’m a little sad KJ won’t be leading the team, but if Feleipe gives us the best chance, I’m all for it.

SEC East

1. Georgia (9-1)
2. Florida (9-1)
3. Tennessee (5-5)
4. Kentucky (5-5)
5. South Carolina (2-8)
6. Missouri (2-8)
7. Vanderbilt (0-10)

Georgia
Predicted SEC Record: 9-1
Wins: at Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, at Kentucky, Florida, at Missouri, Mississippi State, at South Carolina, Vanderbilt
Losses: at Alabama
I expect this to be another strong year for Kirby Smart at Georgia. His team will be unexperienced on the offense and they lost their starting QB to an opt out pretty late in fall camp, but I don’t think that will hurt them too much. They do have a few tough games this season, but I have trust in Kirby Smart. Having to adjust to not having Jake Fromm with be difficult, but they get a tune-up game to start the season when they head to Arkansas. Their game against the Gators should decide the East.

Florida
Predicted SEC Record: 9-1
Wins: at Ole Miss, South Carolina, at Texas A&M, LSU, Missouri, Arkansas, at Vanderbilt, Kentucky, at Tennessee
Losses: Georgia
This will be Dan Mullen’s third season as the head coach of Florida. He did very well last season, losing only to LSU and Georgia. I think it will be more of the same this year as he returns about half of his starters, including QB Kyle Trask. The Gators only gave up 17 points per game in conference play last season. They will have a good chance of winning the East this season. All they have to do is beat Georgia.

Tennessee
Predicted SEC Record: 5-5
Wins: at South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, at Arkansas, at Vanderbilt
Losses: at Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M, at Auburn, Florida
Tennessee is a little hard for me to pin down. They are returning a ton of starters and are a very experienced team, but I’m not sure that is going to be enough. They do have the luxury of a veteran QB in Jarrett Guarantano to lead the offense, but he will need to be improved to really put this team in a good spot. I think this team has the ability pull an upset or two, but I think best case scenario for the Volunteers is 7 wins. Jeremy Pruitt has done a really good job here, so I hope this season doesn’t hurt him.

Kentucky
Predicted SEC Record: 5-5
Wins: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, at Missouri, Vanderbilt, South Carolina
Losses: at Auburn, at Tennessee, Georgia, at Alabama, at Florida
Kentucky did pretty amazing considering they had a WR playing QB down the stretch. They get back QB Terry Wilson who was injured last season. This team also feels very disrespected by their preseason lack of ranking. I think they will start the season angry and that will be fun to watch. Kentucky is one of those teams that is always capable of pulling an upset. I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up with more than five wins.

South Carolina
Predicted SEC Record: 2-8
Wins: at Vanderbilt, Missouri
Losses: Tennessee, at Florida, Auburn, at LSU, Texas A&M, at Ole Miss, Georgia, at Kentucky
Last year was not good for South Carolina. They should be a better team this season, but the all-SEC schedule is going to make it tough. There was a bit of a surprise with Colorado State grad transfer QB Collin Hill beating out Ryan Hilinski for the starting job earlier this fall. I think South Carolina can win a few games this year.

Missouri
Predicted SEC Record: 2-8
Wins: Vanderbilt, Arkansas
Losses: Alabama, at Tennessee, at LSU, at Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, at South Carolina, at Mississippi State
There isn’t a ton going for Missouri this season. They are bringing in a new coach (Eli Drinkwitz from Appalacchian State) and also have a new QB. Robinson spent his first two seasons at TCU and redshirted last season at Missouri. Their schedule is also tough. I don’t see them pulling many upsets, but they could win one or two more than I have predicted.

Vanderbilt
Predicted SEC Record: 0-10
Wins: none
Losses: at Texas A&M, LSU, SCAR, at Missouri, Ole Miss, at Mississippi State, at Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, at Georgia
This Vandy team should be a callback. They return ELEVEN starters on defense. They are going to be a difficult team to play physically. I do not see them having the ability to score enough points to win any games this season. I would just like the thank the SEC for not forcing us, as fans, to watch Arkansas play Vanderbilt.

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Posted in 2020 Season, Football

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AP Top 25

1. Clemson (6-0,5-0)
2. Alabama (5-0)
3. Ohio State (1-0)
4. Notre Dame (5-0,4-0) (ACC this year)
5. Georgia (3-1)
6. Oklahoma State (4-0,3-0)
7. Cincinnati (4-0,2-0)
8. Texas A&M (3-1)
9. Wisconsin (1-0)
10. Florida (2-1)
11. BYU (6-0)
12. Miami (5-1,4-1)
13. Michigan (1-0)
14. Oregon (0-0)
15. North Carolina (3-1,3-1)
16. Kansas State (4-1,4-0)
*17. Indiana (1-0)
18. Penn State (0-1)
19. Marshall (5-0,3-0)
20. Coastal Carolina (5-0,3-0)
21. USC (0-0)
22. SMU (5-1,2-1)
23. Iowa State (3-2,3-1)
*24. Oklahoma (3-2,2-2)
*25. Boise State (1-0,1-0)

Dropped Out: 19Virginia Tech (3-2,3-2), 21Minnesota (0-1), 23NC State (4-2,4-2)

*New Team

**All teams now eligible for AP Poll. All 10 FBS conferences have committed to playing football this fall

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