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2014 SEC Preview

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This is a bit late thanks to working three jobs while the internet connection at my house works zero but nevertheless here we go football is upon us and the SEC has the best product going. I would have argued until last year that it was better football than the new age NFL product. Then they brought in A&M and Missouri, the refs started calling a more offensive game and kids have been watching an offensive heavy NFL game so naturally the product has dwindled a bit. Regardless this is still the best of the best in college football. It’s the closest thing to throwback football where they play tough defense and beat each other up. This year should be no exception and the national champ will likely come from this conference once again, so let’s get to how it will play out.


7. Kentucky 225-1 (To win the conference)  

The Wildcats are still searching for a quarterback. They should be better than the past few seasons but without a QB they are going to struggle once again. Their strength will be in their run game and they will need to be able to push opposing defensive lines around to open up holes and control the clock to shorten the game and give them a chance to steal a few games at the end. That being said, they play in the SEC… they are screwed.

How They’ll Finish: 2-10 (0-8)

6. Vandy 225-1

The Commodores have been on a run of success the past few years. Back to back nine win seasons and three consecutive trips to bowl games were both firsts for the school. However, they have some big shoes to fill this year. They will have to find a way to replace their head coach, quarterback and top two wide receivers. While the offensive line is solid enough to provide protection and allow the run to set up the pass, they are going to have to figure things out on the fly this year. This is certainly a transitional year for the Commodores. It would be absolutely shocking if they churned out another nine win season, more likely they will be taking a step back with hopes of firing on all cylinders by the end of 2014.

How They’ll Finish: 6-7 (1-7)

5. Tennessee 100-1

The Vols have a promising future, but probably not this season. They should get it worked out towards the end of the season but they are so young and unproven on both sides of the ball that they just simply have to struggle early on. They have signed some big time recruits adding speed, size and depth to both sides of the ball. They might be a year away but they are eventually going to be dangerous. I don’t think Missouri is looking forward to going to Tennessee in the second to last game of the year.

How They’ll Finish: 7-6 (5-3)

4. South Carolina 6-1

The Gamecocks may need to start thinking about replacing Steve Spurrier. I know the numbers look good but they never seem to live up to the hype. The past few years they have been thought of as a contender to win the SEC and National Championship yet they always seem to play down to the level of their opponents blowing at least one game they should have won and then sort of quitting on the season. This season I am staring at that home game against Missouri at the end of September. Yes, they should have already lost once, to the Georgia Bulldogs, but two losses in the SEC and you are done. This might be the season that really gets people talking about Spurrier’s job. If they don’t make the SEC title game, they will have once again not fulfilled expectations and if they don’t get their defense, especially their secondary in line they might actually suck. While that probably won’t be the case their schedule sets up for them to finish with a poor record. Let’s just say they lose to Georgia and Mizzou. They have two weeks worth of @Kentucky and vs Furman leading into a matchup @Auburn. If they lose that, which they should, they then have a date with the Vols who could very well be playing their best football, followed by @Florida. Five losses sounds about right…

How They’ll Finish: 7-5 (3-5)

3. Florida 12-1

Why is everyone so high on the Gators? Is it because they are the Gators? Because I’m not seeing what everyone else is. Last year they ranked 113 out of 123 FBS teams as far as offensive production. They brought in a new offensive coordinator from Duke to move to a more no huddle/hurry up offensive game but I don’t see the pieces in place to really execute it well. Their defense has holes and their schedule is brutal. They can’t be worse than last year, but they aren’t winning this division and certainly aren’t competing for a trip to Atlanta.

How They’ll Finish: 7-5 (4-4)

2. Mizzou 35-1

The Tigers have a very good chance to return to Atlanta for the SEC title game this year. Their offense certainly isn’t as potent without QB James Franklin but Maty Mauk got plenty of reps last season. The issue is who is he going to be throwing to? They need some of their young receivers to take a leap forward quickly. The one thing to keep in mind though is that their two biggest strengths are in the trenches. Their offensive line is big, powerful and experienced. Between them they have 72 career starts and will allow them to run the ball well, opening things up for Mauk and the young passing game. Meanwhile the defensive line had the top pass rush in the conference last year and shouldn’t miss a beat this season. Looking at the schedule the Tigers have four non conference games to get things fine tuned before playing eight consecutive conference games. Maybe that schedule catches up with them towards the end of the season but they should enter conference play with plenty of time to get their shit together and get back to 2013 form.

How They’ll Finish: 9-3 (6-2)

1. Georgia +425

The Bulldogs’ ceiling is very high this year provided they can figure out what to do with that secondary. While Damian Swann is a staple to lock down one side of the field they lost three key contributors this offseason, so they are going to need some new guys to step up and fill the void. But their front seven should be better and should be able to get to the quarterback which would really help out the secondary as will the schedule since they don’t really face a pass happy team all season. On the offensive side they need to replace Murray at QB but they have a senior to step in and fill the void and don’t forget about how good Todd Gurley is. Last year they were decimated by injuries, as long as they can stay healthy they have some serious firepower and should compete for the SEC title.

How They’ll Finish: 12-0 (8-0)

* I feel the need to justify this which probably isn’t a good sign for my prediction but here we go… just look at their schedule. Everything works in their favor. They dodge Alabama, LSU and A&M. They get Auburn, a running team, and Florida (after a bye week) at home. Sure they have to visit South Carolina and Missouri but South Carolina always gags in those games and the Bulldogs will be coming off a bye and Missouri could be undefeated going into that game with an inexperienced offensive unit at home on national tv with a ton of pressure on them. They get the Vols early and other than that it’s vs Clemson, Troy, Vandy Charl Southern, and Georgia Tech with trips to Arkansas and Kentucky in the middle. Maybe they blow one of those games but I can’t see them losing more than once this season.


7. Arkansas 225-1

The Razorbacks are in a position in which they are just hoping to get better throughout the season. If they can show some improvement at the end of the season over the beginning of the season the year will be a success. There are too many holes to fill for an SEC team to come out of nowhere plus the schedule is really brutal that kicks off with a date @Auburn. Again, they just want to look better in their last game than they do in their first game in order for this season to be considered a successful one.

How They’ll Finish: 3-9 (0-8)

6. Texas A&M 18-1

The Aggies are another team looking to reload after losing a lot to the NFL this year. How do you replace Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans, you don’t you change your game plan. That being said the Aggies have some great offensive minded coaches in place that should allow QB Kenny Hill to put up some points. One guy that should be a key contributor on the offense is Ricky Seals-Jones, a young 6’5 230lb mammoth of a wide receiver who can play inside or out. Look for the Aggies to line him up on the inside as often as possible to exploit matchup problems with linebackers and safeties.

The Aggies problems shouldn’t be their offense it should be in their defensive unit. Their secondary is absolutely atrocious. If they don’t get that sorted out and fast they might need to put up 60 points a game to be competitive.

How They’ll Finish: 6-6 (2-6)

5. Ole Miss 15-1

The Rebels are a team to watch this year. Their defense is deep and full of talent, and their offense is loaded at the skill position, but their offensive line is in trouble and in the SEC you need a good offensive line to win. They lost three starters from a year ago and while they have some guys primed to take the lead they are far from proven and could take some time to get it together and work as a unit. Their schedule could be worse but they have a stretch of vs Alabama, @A&M, vs Tenn, @LSU, and vs Auburn in a row without a bye week mixed in. It is an understatement that they are going to need their defense to play out of their minds to keep them in contention as far as the big picture goes.

How They’ll Finish: 8-4 (4-4)

4. Miss St 55-1

There isn’t much not to like with this Bulldogs team. They can run, pass and defend with the best of them also their schedule is far from awful. However, they will probably play in a lot of close games and in close games you need to be able to kick field goals, which they can’t do. Last season their two kickers went a combined 9 for 20 including 1 for 6 from 40+yds and each of them had a kick blocked. They brought in a new transfer but at the moment he is thought of as a backup, which isn’t a good sign. There is just no way that doesn’t cost them at least one game this season. Outside of that though they have a solid team that should be competitive in every game.

How They’ll Finish: 9-3 (5-3)

3. Alabama +150

The Crimson Tide are rolling into the year as a rather heavy favorite in the SEC despite quite a few holes that need filling. While Nick Saban can recruit and build up a stout defense, it is rather difficult to fill three roles in the secondary as well as holes left by CJ Mosley and the gaping hole at quarterback. Maybe they have the pieces in place to step up and get back to Alabama football. But I think they take a step back this year. They just feel a bit overrated heading into this season with too many holes to fill with a very difficult schedule and such high expectations.

How They’ll Finish: 9-3 (5-3)

2. Auburn +425

While it is going to be difficult to replace someone like Tre Mason, the Auburn Tigers could possible be more talented than last year. With Marshall back at quarterback and Gus Malzahn at the helm, they are going to be tough to slow down. There are some red flags though in the trenches. They are going to be without arguably their top interior linemen on both sides of the ball for the majority of if not all of the 2014 season. They have plenty of bodies that can fill those holes, but how will they really stack up against the big lines of the SEC is the real question. That run game is going to need the o-line to hold up its end of the bargain and the defensive line needs to get to the quarterback to help out their secondary. They might turn out to be just as good as last year but the injury bug has already bit them and that’s not a good sign this early on. But, Alabama has a lot of inexperience at a lot of key positions and that Iron Bowl could determine who wins this division.

How They’ll Finish: 11-1 (7-1)

1. LSU +650

Les Miles and the Tigers have some work to do on the offensive end. They lost a combination of a 3,000 yard passer, 1,000 yard rusher and two 1,000 yard receivers… the first combo of that nature in SEC history. That being said they are a real wildcard in talking about who will take down the SEC in 2014 simply because their defense is rounding into one of their best units ever. We won’t know how well the new/inexperienced guys will adapt right away, we do know that their defense is going to carry them and keep them in every game. They open the season with a neutral site game against Wisconsin and if I know the Big 10 like I think I do, that should be a real confidence booster for Les Miles’ club. That offense needs to build confidence early on to stay in the hunt for a trip to Atlanta. I really think this LSU team is going to work itself into a national title contender by the end of the season.

How They’ll Finish: 11-1 (7-1)


LSU 16 - Georgia 10

LSU’s defense is good enough to win this thing by itself and while I think Georgia is good enough to finish the year as the undefeated national champ, their schedule plays quite a big role in that. They are both good enough to beat anyone in the country but an undefeated team playing in the SEC title game at home puts an immense amount of pressure on a first year QB whether he is a senior or not and playing against this LSU defense makes it all that more difficult. Side note, I went to LSU-UNC a few years back in Atlanta and the streets of Atlanta were flooded with LSU Tigers fans screaming “TIGER BAIT”. Those folks travel well and that is going to be too much for Georgia to overcome.


Monday, September 1, 2014

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