For the last few weeks leading up until the start of the College Football season, I have been previewing different teams, players, and more from the SEC. In the last week of my preview I give my boldest predictions for the SEC that are sure to be wrong.
5. Texas A&M Will Finish the Season 8-5
Between 2014 and 2016 the Aggies ended their season with a decent 8-5 record. Last season they fell just short of that goal with a 7-6 finish. For the past couple of years, it has been an ongoing joke in college football that no matter what kind of team Texas A&M fielded they would find a way to go 8-5.
This got so annoying for the program that they fired Kevin Sumlin purely out of frustration. Irony is going to have its way with the program this year when the Aggies finish 8-5 under new head coach Jimbo Fisher.
This may seem like a way of the universe getting back at a program who fired a pretty good head coach, but I think this would be an accomplishment considering their tough schedule this year which includes Clemson, Alabama, Mississippi State, and Auburn.
Personally, I’m projecting seven wins in the regular season with wins against Northwestern State, Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas, Kentucky (sorry), South Carolina, Ole Miss, and UAB.
None of those teams are particularly tough opponents and I think that the Aggies will beat the Gamecocks on the road.
With Jimbo Fisher as head coach now, I think that Texas A&M will get a bowl win no matter who they play. The future is bright in Aggieland with Fisher at the helm, but for now I think they will finish with the same old frustrating result.
4. Derek Mason Will Be on His Way Out of Nashville
For full transparency, I really like Derek Mason as a coach and more importantly as a person. However, winning is the only thing that matters anymore, and he hasn’t done that a whole lot at Vanderbilt.
Four seasons with the Commodores have yielded four consecutive losing seasons. While a bowl appearance in 2016 was a nice way to keep the critics at bay, last year’s disappointing 5-7 record brought back the critics in full force.
“Head coach Derek Mason is on the hot seat entering 2018 and the market isn’t too keen on his chances to stay, as Vandy’s win total sits at 4.5.”@_Collin1 on if Vanderbilt can perform well enough for HC Derek Mason to keep his job: https://t.co/toGQHMjOYr
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) August 25, 2018
In 2018 I’m predicting another losing season for Vanderbilt, and a last place finish in the SEC East. In their nonconference slate they draw an underrated Middle Tennessee team and a dangerously good Notre Dame squad.
They should win both of their other nonconference games, but in SEC play the only game I could see this team winning is against Tennessee at home
Other than that, that’s pretty much what Vanderbilt’s year will be like in 2018. I see anywhere from 2-4 victories and I think that will be enough for Mason to lose his job. Hopefully I’m wrong, because I think Mason deserves to be a college football head coach somewhere. Vanderbilt might not be that place, however.
3. Mississippi State Will Finish Second in the SEC West
PRESEASON AP POLL@SEC Teams in the Top 25:
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 20, 2018
I am 100% buying into all the preseason Mississippi State hype. Yes, I know they have a new head coach and that this team is a Nick Fitzgerald injury away from disaster.
However, I think on pure talent alone this is the second-best team in SEC West. Their defense is filled with guys who will be playing on Sundays, and their ground attack will be one of the best in the nation.
They draw Auburn at home which is huge. I think that will be the deciding game on who gets second in the West. Other than that, I think the Bulldogs lose to Alabama and possibly LSU on the road.
I see one or two losses in SEC play, and with Auburn having to play on the road against Georgia I think that Mississippi State will win just enough games to finish second in the West.
Hop on this hype train with me. I think it’s for real.
2. The Iron Bowl Will Help Decide the Heisman Trophy Race
Just because I don’t have Auburn finishing second in the West this year doesn’t mean that I think this team will have a bad season. On the contrary, I think they will still find a way to double digit wins.
That will be in most part to the play of Jarrett Stidham who I think will post huge numbers through the air in 2018. On the flip side, I think Alabama will be undefeated heading into the Iron Bowl thanks to a great season from Tua Tagovailoa.
Bama’s Tua has 0 career starts but he’s now Heisman Trophy favorite via @LVSuperBook:
Grier, McSorley 15/1
Anderson, Fromm, Haskins, Herbert 20/1
Browning, Harris, Patterson, Stidham 25/1
Lock, Swift 30/1
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 20, 2018
With so much on the line in the Iron Bowl, I think that if one of these guys plays great and leads their team to a victory, they will have the season’s signature “Heisman Moment.”
If neither plays all that well, the award may go to someone else. At the very least, I think this game will be one that the voters look at closely. Stidham will have a favorable matchup against an inexperienced Crimson Tide secondary, but Tagovailoa will have the better overall team helping him out.
An Auburn loss may be their second or third defeat total while an Alabama loss could put a dent in Tagovailoa’s confidence before the SEC championship game. Either way, the losing quarterback will have their Heisman hopes hurt massively.
1. Florida Will At Least Double Their Win Total from Last Season
Phil Steele names Florida as his Most Improved Team in the nation for 2018. He named the Gators as his #1 surprise national title contender heading into 2017; they finished 4-7
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) June 12, 2018
This may be my boldest take simply because I’m so sure of this one. Hear me out on this before you set fire to my sports IQ level.
Yes, I know that the Gators went 4-7 last year in what was one of the worst seasons in school history. But they return 19 of 22 starters from last year, made one of the best hires of the offseason with the addition of Dan Mullen, and they have what may be the easiest schedule in the SEC.
Their first four games go like this: Charleston Southern, Kentucky, Colorado State, and at Tennessee. That should be four victories which would match their win total from last year before the month of October.
Elsewhere on their schedule they get Vanderbilt on the road and Missouri, South Carolina, and Idaho all at home. I don’t see any reason why they drop any of those games as well. They do have to play on the road at Mississippi State in what should be a loss.
We are already at eight victories, however. The rest of their schedule fills out with LSU, Georgia, and Florida State. Those are three tough opponents but only one of those contests is a true road game. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see the Gators pull out a victory in one of those matchups.
If you still think I’m crazy, go back to that returning starter number. Basically, Florida’s entire team returns this year and all of them were highly touted recruits who have suffered through some bad coaching. Plus running back Jordan Scarlett also returns from suspension. He will have a big breakout season this year.
Jordan Scarlett || Light It Up || ?? pic.twitter.com/rLLFw5TTpW
— NWF (@NaturalWorks_) July 27, 2017
Mullen will get the most out of this group and Feleipe Franks at quarterback. In the SEC East which is still very weak, the Gators are my pick to finish second behind Georgia.