#1 The SEC
The SEC race will again bypass ESPN’s favorite, and leave them lobbying for their inclusion in the playoffs when they didn’t even win their division.
- Louisiana State University – Tigers – 12-0 / 8-0: It basically comes down to the fact that Wisconsin, Auburn, Florida, Arkansas, and aTm don’t have what it’ll take to beat LSU on the road, and no one will beat them at home this year.
- University of Alabama – Crimson Tide – 10-2 / 6-2: Alabama may be a better team than LSU, but they have to travel to Rocky Top and Death Valley. Which ESPN will point out as unfair, and proof of why they’ll need to be in the playoffs.
- Mississippi State University – Bulldogs – 8-4 / 5-3: This will be another solid year for the boys from Starksville. The schedule does them some big favors with road games at LSU, BYU, and Alabama, which will let them ride the bottom feeders to a first division finish.
- University of Arkansas – Razorbacks – 8-4 / 5-3: Arkansas’s hold on matching my prediction is a bit trickier as they will have to win a few tough road games. Trips to Auburn and Missouri will be probably, but tough wins.
- University of Mississippi – Rebels – 6-6 / 3-5: Ole’ Miss faces the tough task of replacing 12 starters, and a tough schedule. With Florida State out of conference and Georgia from the SEC East, bowl eligibility will be a viable goal.
- Auburn University – Tigers – 4-8 / 2-6: Auburn lost 10 starters off of a decent, but unspectacular team. They aren’t a bad team, but they just don’t get enough teams they can beat at home to make much noise this year. A key game will be after a very probable opening week loss to Clemson, can they rebound to not also lose to a very good Arkansas State team?
- Texas A&M – Aggies – 6-6 / 2-6: The Aggies may be able to make a low level bowl because they have been able to load up on the out of conference schedule with powerhouses like Prairie View A&M, New Mexico State, and UTSA. After that they simply don’t have the horses to beat the better teams in the SEC.
- University of Georgia – Bulldogs – 12-0 / 8-0: Georgia is once again set up with a dream schedule. With only 4 road games, a neutral site game in Atlanta, and the Cocktail party in Jacksonville it means their only non-home tests will be a trip to Ole Miss and Florida. Smart won’t be the first UGA coach to have this kind of gift schedule, but he’ll be the first one not to blow it if he can make it to the CCG to face LSU.
- University of Tennessee – Volunteers – 11-1 / 7-1: They’ll finally be fairly happy on Rocky Top again, but they’ll have to turn it up to 11 if they beat UGA between the hedges.
- University of Florida – Gators – 7-5 / 4-4: Last year the Gators won a few they shouldn’t have, and 10 of those starters are gone. So the law of averages are going to pull these guys back down a few games in the win column. Not to mention the fact that most teams would have five losses with @Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, @Arkansas, and @Florida State on their schedule.
- University of Missouri – Tigers – 6-6 / 3-5: The Tigers feasted on some bad SEC East teams to win the division their first two years in the conference. This year they can at least be thankful that 3 SEC East teams are worse than them. That and Delaware State, Eastern Michigan, and Middle Tennessee visit Columbia.
- University of Kentucky – Wildcats – 4-8 / 2-6: Mark Stoops is going to be finding out how tough it is to get off of that 2-5 win plateau in Lexington. Well there’s always basketball.
- Vanderbilt University – Commodores – 3-9 / 1-7: And, Vandy is back to being Vandy. Well at least they can all laugh about the alums from the other schools working for them.
- University of South Carolina – Gamecocks – 2-10 / 0-8: Spurrier let this thing implode, and Muschamp is going to have a serious challenge this year. Thankfully UMass and Western Carolina will visit Columbia or it could be a very long year.