We’ve completed our Spring Tour and soon we will be closing the book on the month of May. June is going to fly by and next thing you know we’ll be at SEC Media Days in Atlanta on July 16.
So what better time for your humble correspondent to go back through his notes and fearlessly (accurately is quite a different matter) project the finish in the SEC East and SEC West.
We’ll start with the SEC East today and then give you the SEC West on Friday.
Feel free to disagree but if you do, please let me know why at email@example.com. Here we go.
SEC EAST—PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH
Projected conference record in parentheses.
Who they will beat: at Missouri, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, at LSU, Florida (in Jacksonville), at Kentucky, Auburn.
Who they will lose to: at South Carolina.
Analysis: Georgia has a lot of rebuilding to do, especially on defense, but they are going to rebuild with very talented players. So the best time to play the Bulldogs will be early. I went to Columbia twice in the spring and the Gamecocks are very much looking forward to Georgia’s visit on Sept. 8. Georgia gets upset at Williams-Brice Stadium and then runs the table to the SEC East championship.
SOUTH CAROLINA (6-2)
Who they will beat: Georgia, at Vanderbilt, at Kentucky, Missouri, Texas A&M, Tennessee.
Who they will lose to: at Ole Miss, at Florida
Analysis: With quarterback Jake Bentley returning for his junior season and wide receiver Deebo Samuel coming back from injury, South Carolina is going to be very explosive on the offensive side of the ball. If the Gamecocks can upset Georgia on Sept. 8, they will continue to win until they hit back-to-back road games at Ole Miss and Florida in November.
Who they will beat: Kentucky, LSU, at Vanderbilt, Missouri, South Carolina
Who they will lose to: at Tennessee, at Miss State, vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Analysis: The swing game for Florida on the schedule is a trip to Tennessee on Sept. 22. I think Florida has a better roster but it will be the first conference game for new Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols will be out to avenge the Hail Mary loss to the Gators last season. Mississippi State in Starkville the following week won’t be a picnic either.
Who they will beat: Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, at Vanderbilt
Who they will lose to : at Georgia, at Auburn, Alabama, at South Carolina.
Analysis: It will be a tough first-year for new Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt. I think the Vols will beat Florida in Knoxville but then comes a four-game stretch that includes road trips to Georgia, Auburn, and South Carolina plus a home game with Alabama. The good news is that the November schedule of Charlotte, Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt gives the Volunteers a chance to make a bowl.
Who they will beat: Vanderbilt, at Missouri
Who they will lose to: at Florida, Miss. State, South Carolina, at Texas A&M, Georgia, at Tennessee
Analysis: With running back Benny Snell (a two-time 1,000-yard rusher) returning and some potentially good quarterback play from JUCO transfer Terry Wilson and redshirt sophomore Gunnar Hoak, the Wildcats might upset Mississippi State or South Carolina at home and improve on this record.
Who they will beat: Vanderbilt, Arkansas.
Who they will lose to: Georgia, at South Carolina, at Alabama, Kentucky, at Florida, at Tennessee
Analysis: It’s hard to get a handle on Mizzou because of a complete change of offense for quarterback Drew Lock, who led the nation in touchdown passes last season with 44. Missouri will go to a more conventional pro-style attack under new OC Derek Dooley. Will it work? Don’t know but I know this: The Tigers need to improve on a defense that gave up 31.4 points per game.
Who they will beat: at Arkansas.
Who they will lose to: South Carolina, at Georgia, Florida, at Kentucky, at Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee.
Analysis: The Commodores lost Ralph Webb, the school’s all-time leading rusher but they still have plenty of talent at the position. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur is back for his senior season. Here is the key to prove this prediction wrong: The Commodores forced only nine turnovers in 12 games last season. New DC Jason Tarver has to fix that.