We are two weeks away from college football!
With that being said, it’s now time to take a look at how the 2016 season will end up… at least in my opinion.
Let’s start out with the conference of champions, the SEC.
Alabama has won four of the last 7 national championships, and has begun the year as number one in the polls. A lot, A LOT, has changed in T-town. Most notable is that the Evil Genius has lost his right hand man. With Kirtby Smart moving on to greener pastures, the defense will be taken over by Jeremy Pruitt. In my opinion, both guys are where they really wanted to be. Outside of that Bama is looking to replace a TON of talent, including their starting quarterback and their Heisman Trophy winning running back. That in my opinion is the key. You can replace one in the backfield without a lot of issues, but replacing both is something Bama hasn’t done well with. Bama begins with USC on the road, and that will be a telling sign of the season. Two weeks later they travel to Ole Miss, whom the Tide has not beaten the past two years. They must also travel to Knoxville in early October. Bama will go 10-2. The question of which two will decide if they play in Atlanta this December.
Arkansas had a pretty good year last year under offensive coordinator Dan Enos. A week two game against TCU will be a huge test, but other than that the Pigs should be atleast 4-2 heading into Bama. However, the stretch that begins with Bama includes Ole Miss, at Auburn, Florida and LSU. It’s gona be a touch year for Coach B. We are talking 5 wins max.
Auburn is really hoping that a top 10 recruiting class can change the team. Coach Malzan has already kicked numerous players off the team, and in my opinion he is coaching for his job this year. Sadly for Auburn fans they start their year with Clemson and close their season at Alabama. The Tigers will be lucky to get 6 wins and a bowl this yea.
LSU is poised to take over the West. It will be Leonard Fornette’s final season in Death Valley and he is really wanting to play in Atlanta for a ring. LSU like several other SEC teams will try their opener against a ‘big boy’ (Wisconsin) rather than a cupcake. The Tigers will also have to prove their selves on the road this year with games at Auburn, Florida, and Alabama before closing the year at Texas AM. I see LSU winning the West going 11-1.
Mississippi State is looking to find life after quarterback Dak Prescott. He was a once in a lifetime player for the Bulldogs. They will see a drop off. 6 wins for the Bulldogs.
Ole Miss is hoping that senior quarterback Chad Kelly can break though the glass ceiling. If he does it will have to be without the players from Ole Miss’ best ever recruiting class. Gone are all-word stars Laquan Tredwell, Robert Nkemenche, and Laremy Tunsil. If Ole Miss can get past Florida State week one they will be on a collision course with destiny. However, that road is filled with back to back games against Alabama and Georgia. Toss in a game at LSU and the Rebels might have to drown their sorrows in the Grove. 8 wins for the Rebels.
Texas A&M is just looking to belong. After Johny Football went on to the pros, then the clubs, they have been looking for identity. Both of their quarterbacks from last year decided to move on to other schools, thus leaving the team looking for an 11th man, much less their 12th man. The season will rely on both of them showing up. Not going to happen. A week 1 loss to UCLA will derail the program early. I’m talking 5, 6 wins max for the Aggies.
Now onto the East.
Vanderbilt. Oh, Vanderbilt, what can we say. Well, I do love Nashville. They have great music and a pretty cool downtown. Other than that they will have 3 wins this year.
South Carolina is looking to have a comeback as well. Gone is former Florida Gator coach Steve Spurrier. Here now is.. former Florida Gator coach Will Muschamp. Pattern much? They are hoping to relive the same results. The Cocks had two trips to the SEC Title game under Spurrier while Muschamp was at a much more talent rich program. If Willy couldn’t win at Florida, how is he going to win in Columbia. However, expect a 5-0 start for the Gamecocks, which could make people start to notice them. They usually get UGA early, but this year they wont see them until early October. That game will be the week after the Dawgs will have played Ole Miss and Tennessee. This could get interesting. I’m thinking 8 wins for the real USC.
Missouri, like Texas A&M, is hoping to recapture the magic of its first few years in the SEC. Back to back East Titles helped UGA oust Mark Richt. The program is way down since then. I would be surprised if the Tigers win more than 4 games this season.
Kentucky and head coach Mark Stoops wants some love on the field. They should have defeated Florida last year. The team still doesn’t know how to win, but they are much improved. 7 wins and a bowl game are in store for the Wildcats this year.
The Florida Gators were the luckiest team in the conference last year. Several wins should have been losses. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Yes, I know that doesn’t matter. However, luck does run out. Florida is looking to return to Atlanta, but in my opinion it will not happen this year. The Gators run the cupcake schedule though September until finally facing off at Tennessee. They are high schoolers that have never seen the Vols beat the Gators. I think that changes this year. That will set off a horrible October for Florida with losses to Tennesee, LSU and Georgia. Good news for Florida is that they will go bowling, bad news is that they will only win 8 games in the regular season.
Here’s where I go heart vs head.
My head tells me that this is the year Tennessee and Butch Jones has worked for. Year after year they have improved for this very season. They have all the pieces in quarterback Josh Dobbs, along with superstar tailbacks Jalen Hurd and Alvan Kamara. Toss in big time playmakers Josh Male and Josh Smith the Vols will score tons of points. New defensive coordinator Bob Shoop will also help the defense. Not to mention they are bringing back almost everyone on that side of the ball. Dangerous. Very Dangerous. The Vols have Bama on its schedule, so more than likely the East will be decided on October 1st when the Vols come to Athens. 11 wins for the Vols.
My head tells me the University of Georgia. Folks keep telling me how bad Georgia was last year. Well, when a “bad” team wins 10 games, that says a lot. If Nick Chubb can stay healthy, their offense will be very much improved. New offensive coordinator Jim Chaney uses the tight end set very well. UGA has the best in all of college football with Jeb Blazavich, Jackson Harris and incoming freshman Issac Nauta. They will catch the ball every time. You don’t have to get 10 years every play, 3.3 yards. The defense will also look to improve. Kirby Smart and new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will bring that Bama nastiness to Athens. The only question is depth. I don’t think they are “there” yet, but they were not half bad last year. 10 wins for the Dawgs heading into the bowl season.
SEC title game: LSU vs Tennessee
Next week check back for my college football preview and see who will be playing for the national title next January!