#SEC Football Best/Worst 2016

Well we finally got our act together. After watching Florida State and Ohio State take what is rightfully ours we played our Saban card and got our title back. Get ready for another 6 or 7 in a row College Football, we aren’t giving this title back anytime soon. Isn’t it interesting how this conference pushes its collective chest out when someone does something of note? We can all be friends as long as we aren’t playing one another on Saturday. I believe this is the best conference in all of the land, and the SEC West is the best division hands down in the land. If Alabama wants to defend, they had better be ready to work. There are landmines all over everyone’s schedule. We are going to outline a best and worst case scenario for each school, look back at how we did last season, but not predict bowl games.

Alabama

Last season: 14-1 (Defeated Clemson in the College Football National Championship Game presented by AT&T)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 10

In Saban We Trust. Until he is no longer the Head Coach in T-Town, don’t pick against them. Even if they are down for a year (by losing more than once in a season) they will be back the next. Even though they will again be breaking in a new Quarterback, even though they play in the toughest division in football. We have witnessed this before. We wrote last season the the best case was to be in the Playoff and I see no reason to change that heading into this season. They open with USC on a neutral, head to Oxford on Sep 17. They have lost to Ole Miss each of the last 2 seasons. The worst part of the schedule is Oct 8-Nov 5 when they travel to Arkansas and Tennessee, host A&M, and travel to LSU in that order. Best case: College Football Playoff. Worst case: Can we say College Football Playoff until proven otherwise?

Arkansas

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated Kansas State in the Autozone Liberty Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

We thought the worst case scenario would be a second tier bowl last season. A 3 game losing streak to Toledo, Texas Tech, and A&M sealed the deal on being worst case. I think the win at Tennessee is what changed the season for the Razorbacks. If it weren’t for Dak Prescott’s heroics (and a some bad defense by Arkansas) the Hogs could be on a 7 game win streak heading into the year. They lost a ton on the offensive side of the ball, but I think the defense will be better than it was. More like it was 2 seasons ago and that will keep them in games. Going to TCU on Sep 10 is the last true road game until Oct 22 when Arkansas goes to Auburn. They finish with 2 very winnable road games at Mississippi State and Missouri. Best case: New Year’s Day (Not New Year’s 6) Bowl. Worst case: missing Vegas’ win prediction.

Auburn

Last season: 7-6 (Defeated Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6.5

I’d like to take everyone back to the 2013 season, Auburn was coming off a bad 3-9 season. Nobody thought they would be anything. The luster off the 2010 National Championship had gone away. Enter Gus, enter Nick Marshall, enter the Prayer at Jordan Hare, enter Kick 6. This was the year after Alabama won a national championship. Auburn wound up just coming short against a very, very talented Florida State team. The point is every so often crazy things happen on the Plains and I’m just saying to keep your eye on Auburn. They open with Clemson, don’t have a road game until Oct 8 (Mississippi State). There are only 4 total road games and the rest are: Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama (Oct 29, Nov 12, and Nov 26). Best case: The magic returns and Auburn crashes the Playoff party. Worst case: No answers at QB and Gus is fired midway through a 4-8 season.

Florida

Last season: 10-4 (Defeated by Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I think last seasons success has to be attributed to Will Muschamp for building one of the best defenses in the country. Credit to McElwain for not rocking the boat on that side of the ball. Now we are in Year 2 and we’ll see how he is at replacing NFL players on that side of the ball. They exceeded expectations a year ago, including mine. I think that the East has gotten better the last year and they had better be ready. Florida should start 3-0 then they go on the road to Tennessee and Vanderbilt Sep 24 and Oct 1, remember Vanderbilt played them to a 9-7 game at the Swamp a year ago. I think the Tennessee game will decide the East. Only 2 road games after that: at Arkansas (Nov 5)-Arkansas has only beaten Florida once: 1982-at Florida State (Nov 26). If Florida can score, they will be tough to beat. Best case: Returning to the SEC Championship Game and who knows what could happen from there. Worst case: They struggle to meet raised expectations and find themselves in Shreveport or Birmingham.

Georgia

Last season: 10-3 (Defeated Penn State in the Taxslayer Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

Another double digit win season for Georgia. But Coach Richt took his talents to South Beach and bring in a Saban understudy in Kirby Smart. Is he ready to be the numero uno? We thought last year might be the year for Georgia to break through but it never happened. I’m still waiting for this program to have a better than expected season. They get half of their road games out of the way in September: at Missouri and Ole Miss on the 17th and 24th. If they can get those 2 that will setup a really favorable schedule going down the stretch. The only 2 other road games are at rebuilding South Carolina on Oct 8 and at perennially bad Kentucky on Nov 5. Maybe this is the year that Georgia can find themselves in the title picture. Best case: SEC Championship game with Playoff on the line. Worst case: They lose to UNC to start and it turns into a 7 win season.

Kentucky

Last season: 5-7

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5

It was another 5-7 campaign for Kentucky. What has to change for them to get to a bowl game? Even getting off to a good 4-1 start last year wasn’t enough to change their bad fortunes. It seems like they are close to getting to bowl. Losing 6 out of the last 7 games is what doomed them. This season they get to travel to Florida (Sep 10); Alabama (Oct 1); Tennessee (Nov 12); and Louisville (Nov 26). Other than those 4 they could be in every other game. I’m not saying they will go 8-4, but it could happen. Best case: 8-4. Worst case: Another 5-7 just missed out on a bowl season.

LSU

Last season: 9-3 (Defeated Texas Tech in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 10

They finished somewhere in the middle of our scenario by getting 9 wins, but it they had to settle for the Texas Bowl. It was a 3 game losing streak in November that almost cost Les Miles his job. LSU has as much talent as anyone in the country and I will agree that they have been subpar. If they can get good enough play from the QB position, then they will be in line to exceed the 10 win expectation and compete for a title. They open with Wisconsin again on a neutral and only have 4 true road games: at Auburn, Florida, Arkansas, and A&M. The game of the century is in Death Valley-Where dreams go to die, on November 5 and I expect that to be the game that decides the West this season. Best case: College Football Playoff. Worst case: not getting to 10 wins.

Ole Miss

Last season: 10-3 (Defeated Oklahoma State in the AllState Sugar Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

Any year that you win the Sugar Bowl is a really good year. But, Ole Miss was the most talented team in the conference last year, possibly the country. They beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but they lost to Florida, Memphis, and Arkansas. The Memphis and Arkansas games had to sting because those losses shouldn’t happen if you are the better team. I think Ole Miss lost an opportunity to play for everything (Then possibly have it stripped but that is another jar of marbles). This season they start 0-0 like everyone else and can still play for everything. That is if Hugh Freeze is on the sidelines for the first game showdown with Florida State. Ole Miss’ road games are combines into 2 back to backs: at Arkansas and LSU in October and at A&M and Vandy in November. They have the best QB in the league returning and if they can keep him upright, it could be a very good season. Best case: Return to the New Year’s 6. Worst case: sanctions take away the postseason for this year and next year.

Mississippi State

Last season: 9-4 (Defeated NC State in the Belk Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6.5

Dak Prescott is gone and I think the 6.5 win prediction is kind. Last year we thought they would have a major regression, but that didn’t happen. This year I think Mississippi State could miss out on bowl season. The schedule is just plain bad. From Sep 17-Oct 22 Mississippi State goes on the road 4 out of 5 games. They travel to LSU, UMASS, BYU, and Kentucky. Now that may not seem like Murderer’s Row but lets see how many miles that is. LSU is roughly 300, UMASS is roughly 1270, BYU is roughly 1750, and Kentucky is roughly 480. That is almost 4000 miles and 3 time zones in 5 weeks. And we haven’t flipped the calendar to November yet when they travel to Alabama and Ole Miss. Best case: Bowl eligibility. Worst case: Ugly 4-8 or worse season.

Missouri

Last season: 5-7

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5.5

We thought that Missouri would make a bowl game last year, we didn’t know that a major social issue on campus would be the story of the year in Columbia. Gary Pinkel is now out as head coach and Missouri is under new leadership. They discharged enigmatic QB Maty Mauk as well. They open at West Virginia in what I believe will be a tough game to win, overall they are away from their dorms 5 times. They get a week off inbetween back to back roadies with Florida and LSU Oct 1-15, but they finish the season taking a trip to Knoxville Nov 19 and hosting Arkansas the next Friday. Best case: Making a bowl. Worst case: Something worse than a 5-7 season.

South Carolina

Last season: 3-9

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5

Last season was awful for the Gamecocks. They lost to the bleeping Citadel! We stated the worst case scenario would be to finish 3-9 and they nailed that for us. This season whoever made this schedule should be fired. They start off by having 3 conference road games in the first 4 weeks (all in September) the season could be doomed before the weather changes. At Vandy, Miss St, and Kentucky all in September. We could have a 1-3 team by then. It doesn’t get any easier even though the games are mostly home the rest of the way. A&M, Georgia, and Tennessee are foes in October, and they travel to Florida and Clemson in November. Like I stated, whoever made this schedule should be fired. Best case: Being a surprise 5-7 team. Worst case: another 3-9 season.

Tennessee

Last season: 9-4 (Defeated Northwestern in the Outback Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 9.5

We have been waiting on Tennessee for probably 2 years now. Is this the year they not only meet but exceed expectations? They didn’t quite make our best case of the Citrus Bowl, but were better than the worst case by making a New Year’s Day Bowl. They are a very trendy pick to represent the East in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game. There are back to back roadies with Georgia and A&M Oct 1-8 but after that they only go on the road twice and its lowly South Carolina and Vandy. This should be the season Tennessee gets back to the big time. Best case: College Football Playoff. Worst case: New Year’s 6.

Texas A&M

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated by Louisville in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6

I read an article that Texas A&M Coach Sumlin was being very confident at media days, well Vegas seems to think that is fools gold. Even though they have had pretty good success since coming to the league, they haven’t really been a major player yet. With the schedule they had last season we thought they could be in a New Year’s 6 Bowl and that didn’t happen. They only had 3 true road games a year ago and they only have 4 this season. 3 of their first 4 will be tough, they get UCLA at home Auburn on the road, and Arkansas in Dallas all in September. Going to South Carolina is the week after Arkansas and that completes 3 straight non home games. At least they get a week off between hosting Tennessee and going to Alabama in October. They alternate Mississippi schools in November as well as host LSU. I think this season Sumlin is on the hottest seat in the country. I think there is a reason that Trevor Knight transferred (He’s just not that good) and I think that Vegas knows something is up in College Station. Best case: getting to the 6 win Vegas prediction. Worst case: not getting there they clean house with the coaching staff.

Vanderbilt

Last season: 4-8

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5

They made improvement by a game from the last season. Vegas thinks they can do that again. They did show the nation they can play with just about anyone in a 9-7 loss at the Swamp. I know no one wants moral victories but when you’re Vandy you take what you get. They exceeded expectations by getting to 4 wins, maybe they can do that again. The problem is they have 6 road games, and it is 3 sets of back to backs: at Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky (Sep 17 & 24); at Kentucky and Georgia (Oct 8 & 15); and at Auburn and Missouri (Nov 5 & 12). If they can get 2, and I think they can, Vandy could find itself in a bowl game. Best case: Birmingham Bowl. Worst case: Losing all the road games and going 2-10.

Until proven otherwise Alabama is the favorite. They have at least 2 legitimate challengers this season in Tennessee and LSU, I think we should all learn from the past and never count out Auburn-especially when no one sees it coming. The thing is, Tennessee and Alabama could meet twice this season. So we may not have a clear picture of who’s going to be in anything until we get to the SEC Championship Game. That should be a play-in game for the College Football Playoff, but we shall see.

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