For the next few weeks leading up to the start of the College Football season, I will be previewing different teams, players, and more from the SEC. This week, I give my five boldest SEC Football predictions for this upcoming season. Are these sure to be wrong? Probably. But fortune favors the bold.
5. Georgia’s Demetris Robertson Will Have a Big Season
The Bulldogs have a bit of a problem on their hands entering the 2019 season. After a great year from quarterback Jake Fromm, Georgia will lose four of their top five receivers (including their top three) from 2018. While junior Jeremiah Hollman returns (418 yards, 4 TD’s), there is a huge need for a receiver to step up and be one of Fromm’s top targets.
Enter Demetris Robertson. Robertson is a transfer from the California Golden Bears of the Pac-12. Out of high school, he was ranked as the No. 2 receiver in the nation. He showcased his talent regularly at California where he tallied 837 receiving yards in 13 starts with Davis Webb at quarterback. He spent most of last season on the bench at Georgia where he failed to catch a single ball. But his big-play ability was showcased as he ran for over 100 yards on just four carries.
— Greg Brandt (@devywarehouse) September 1, 2018
Overall, Robertson has the most talent out of all of Georgia’s receivers. There is a huge need for someone to step up big time here. Don’t forget that the leading receiver for Georgia last season compiled only 570 yards.
I think it’s a relatively safe bet that Robertson has a breakout year in 2019. All he would need to do is amass over 700 yards receiving to make a big splash on this team. Considering his talent and experience at the position, the need for a big-time playmaker, and that Fromm is throwing him the football, I think it’s a very safe bet that Robertson makes a lot of noise in the SEC this year.
4. Tennessee Will Have its First Winning Season Since 2016
As this list goes on, the predictions will get bolder and bolder. I’m sure that I’m not winning any fans with this one, but I earnestly believe that the Volunteers will win at least seven games in 2019. It has everything to do with their returning experience. They return a total of 10 starters on offense and six on defense. It doesn’t matter who you are, returning every player back on offense with the exception of one lineman bolds very well for you.
Personally, I really like Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt and the confidence he has instilled in quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who has real talent as a pocket passer. On a wider level, the talent level in Knoxville is still relatively good. In the end, it all comes down to their schedule. Are there at least six winnable games there to get them to a bowl game?
“After being there for a year, we know the players that we have. We know what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, and I think that's been extremely important in the development of our football team” – @CoachJPruitt #SECMD19 // #PoweredByTheT pic.twitter.com/Mpuv0cDuY4
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) July 16, 2019
First, I see definite losses at Florida, at Missouri, Georgia at home, and at Alabama. As far as should-be wins, Tennessee shouldn’t have much trouble with Georgia State, Chattanooga, UAB, and Vanderbilt at home. That just leaves BYU, Mississippi State, and South Carolina all in Knoxville along with a road trip to Kentucky. Personally, I see at least two (maybe three) wins there which puts the Vols win total at six.
Add in a possible bowl game win, and the Volunteers have a winning season. Honestly, Tennessee isn’t going to be all that great, but they have the right coach, the right quarterback, and a path to seven wins. In their second season under Pruitt, I think the Volunteers will make it happen.
3. Matt Corral Will Prove to be the Real Deal
Being a freshman quarterback in the SEC is not exactly ideal, to say the least. However, that is where Corral finds himself after being redshirted by Mississippi in 2018. Fortunately for him, Corral played in the minimum amount of games required by the NCAA before losing a full year of eligibility. In that very short amount of time, he actually had a better QBR than former quarterback Jordan Ta’amu did.
Corral has a big arm, and an even bigger personality. You might remember him for being involved in the infamous brawl Ole Miss had with rival Mississippi State last year. Out of high school, he was rated as the second-best quarterback prospect in the nation (behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence) so the talent is certainly there to match his “passion.”
Let me be clear here. I am not suggesting that Corral will set the SEC on fire this season. The Rebels are still rebuilding and the offense returns just three starters this season. Ole Miss will lose four of their top five receivers from 2018. Gone is AJ Brown and DK Metcalf to the NFL. Several players will need to step up in order to help Corral, and I’m not sure that’s going to happen.
Overall, Corral and the Rebels will struggle early on in 2019. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the young freshman has a problem with interceptions. Even with the struggles, I do think that Corral will do just enough to showcase that he is the future of this program. I will take my bets with a quarterback that can do something like this:
— My Loan Ranger (@dvtalley) August 26, 2017
2. Arkansas Will Make a Bowl Game
Yes, I know. This might certainly sound crazy. After all, I did tell you that these predictions were bold. The Razorbacks are officially at the bottom of the barrel right now. They won four games in 2017 and just two in 2018. So, it would seem rather crazy that I’m suggesting that Arkansas will pull off six wins in 2019.
But that’s exactly what I am suggesting.
I actually don’t think the Razorbacks are even a good team, but I do think that they will have a perfect storm of positive factors that will give them a bowl berth. First, they are due some good luck. They had four close losses in 2018 while playing exceptional defense at times.
Second, they have a rather manageable schedule for an SEC West team. Will they lose to Alabama, LSU, Missouri, Auburn, and Texas A&M? Yes. But their other seven games go like this: Portland State, Ole Miss, Colorado State, San Jose State, Mississippi State, WKU, and Kentucky. Add in the addition of quarterback Ben Hicks (SMU’s all-time leading passer) and I believe that Head Coach Chad Morris will get Arkansas to six wins in his second season.
Chad Morris is at the podium to talk about the Razorbacks first scrimmage. “We continued to show great improvement across the board.” pic.twitter.com/DqThNyiVbc
— Kelli Stacy (@Kelli_Stacy_) August 10, 2019
This is a big bet by me, and I realize that there is a high chance I’m wrong. But even if the Razorbacks fail to make a bowl game, I can guarantee that there will be measurable improvement with this program in 2019.
1. Missouri Will Win 10 Games, Bowl Game or Not
Now things are getting spicy. I’m all in on the Tigers this season. While I think Kentucky will be just fine, there will be regression which means that another SEC East team will move up into their spot in the East. That team will be Missouri, but I think they will be even better than advertised.
Similar to the situation with Arkansas, the Tigers have a very manageable schedule in 2019. In fact, I think it’s a very easy schedule by SEC standards. Sure, I think they will lose to Georgia and Florida. However, their SEC West draw is Arkansas and Ole Miss, and their non-conference schedule is a joke. They play Wyoming, West Virginia, Southeast Missouri (?), and Troy. Folks, that is six wins right there.
That leaves the rest of the SEC East, and the Tigers get South Carolina and Tennessee both at home. They have a 1,000-yard rusher back in Larry Roundtree III, plus four of their top five receivers return from last season. Now, add in the fact that Missouri replaces Drew Lock with the very underrated and underappreciated Kelly Bryant, and you get an offense that is absolutely loaded for 2019.
Although Kelly Bryant is currently dealing with a hamstring strain, his energy has been infectious throughout fall camp. In a good way, there is a different feel to this team, and Bryant is a big part of that. pic.twitter.com/DBTtI3WTMB
— Tyler Murry (@TylerMurryABC17) August 6, 2019
Missouri’s defense will be just fine as six starters return on that side of the ball, especially considering that unit was very underrated in 2018. We know that the Tigers are currently under a bowl ban for this upcoming season. While many believe that Missouri will win its appeal of the ban, the NCAA doesn’t rule on it until the bye week (Nov. 2).
The toughest game on Missouri’s schedule before that date is…Kentucky on the road. Yupp. Before November, their toughest games will be UK, South Carolina, and…West Virginia maybe? My point is that there is a very good chance the Tigers are 8-0 and in the national conversation for being highly ranked when the NCAA makes their ruling. This will be a big story after Halloween is over, bet on it. Even if they lose their appeal, they still get Arkansas and Tennessee to end the regular season.
The SEC East will have three teams with double-digit wins. This time, however, it will be Missouri joining Georgia and Florida. I realize this won’t be the most favorable opinion on this website, but I can’t ignore a very good bet when I see one.