M&WN SEC Predictions

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What do you get when you ask the entire M&WN crew for SEC predictions? Well, some guys think so hard they missed the deadline, others (me) who are the main contributors give you one sentence, and then you’re biggest goof ball (Dirty Panda) delivers the best analysis. Well, enough about that…here’s the predictions from a few of the guys…

Coach34 Review his reasons HERE.

West
LSU, 8-0
Alabama, 7-1
MSU, 6-2
Arkansas, 5-3
Auburn, 4-4
A&M, 2-6
Mississippi, 0-8

East
Georgia, 6-2
Florida, 5-3
S. Carolina, 4-4
Tennessee, 4-4
Vanderbilt, 3-5
Missouri, 2-6
Kentucky, 0-8

The Ghost of Hank Flick 

West
Alabama, 7-1 – I believe Bama’s strength on offense this year will get them back on top.
LSU, 6-2 – They reload yes, but I haven’t forgotten how Les Miles will find a way to not run the table.
MSU, 5-3 – I’ve got the Dawgs beating UPig this year and really taking the next step. Having all the swing games at home is huge.
Arkansas, 5-3 – Bobby Petrino was a great offensive coach and play caller. He will be sorely missed.
Auburn, 3-5 – Too many questions at QB and new coordinators has me down on Auburn this year.
A&M, 2-6 – If Kevin Sumlin can find a QB they’ll be a lot better, but I think it will be a struggle for a bowl game.
Mississippi, 0-8 – A bad team and brutal schedule are a really bad combination. Possible 20th straight SEC loss will be vs. Vanderbilt in Oxford, their game of the year.

East
Georgia, 8-0 – The defense is going to be really good and the offense will be solid too. Not to mention they have a great schedule.
Florida, 6-2 – I almost feel sick being this high on the Gators but their defense is going to be really solid and they may just come away with some big wins this year.
S. Carolina, 5-3 – Losing Ellis Johnson and several defensive stars is going to hurt. They do get UGA at home though, but the Dawgs are hungry after two straight losses.
Tennessee, 4-4 – The Vols are back, kind of. They’ll be good – probably good enough to buy Dooley one more year.
Vanderbilt, 3-5 – How can you not like what James Franklin is doing? If he stays in Nashville they could start posing legit threats in the East.
Missouri, 2-6 – The Tigers have some talent but do they have what it takes to compete week-to-week in an ultra-physical league.
Kentucky, 0-8 – Joker, you’re fired.

Dirty Panda (why he does stuff backwards I don’t know)

West

OM at 4-8 (1-7; Win: aTm) – Who really knows what this team is capable of under a new coaching staff?  Who knows what Hugh Freeze is really capable of at this level? There are some really talented bright spots on this team with CJ Johnson, Mike Marry,  Donte Moncrief and Charles Sawyer, but the depth is a huge concern.  In 2012 they will be without the services of Kentrell Lockett, Brandon Bolden and, because of a continued injury, D.T. Shackelford will sit out the season. They also may lose the services of Safety Charles Sawyer for some of the early campaign with a fall camp injury.  That will sting against a tough Longhorn team coming to Oxpatch on September 15th.  If this team can stay healthy, though, the 2 year SEC win drought could come to an end.  I picked the aTm game as that W simply because I just don’t see them going 3 straight years without an SEC victory, and that game was the first winnable one I saw on their schedule.  They may even pull out a second… Ok that’s enough.  I doubt you even read this far.

aTm at 6-6 (2-6; Wins: Mizzou, AU) – New coach with a new offense.  Tougher conference.  Starting QB in 2011 lost in the first round of the smokin’ hot wife draft.  Oh and leading rusher (1,045 yards, 5.3 ypc) Cryrus Gray is gone.  They are extremely talented at the receiver position, but huge question marks remain on a player to actually deliver balls to that group.  Running Back Christine Michael had an impressive 2011, but suffered an ACL tear and missed several games to end the season.  The defense will also be a question mark.  I see this team like I see Mizzou – you get a null and void history and a SEC 2012 prediction from the Panda that represents nothing great or nothing terrible. About what I expect.

AU at 6-6 (3-5; Wins: Upig, OM, Vandy) –  Without Malzahn and Dyer I think this offense really struggles in 2012.  And let’s face it, it has been the offense that brought them a BCS title in ’10, and a bowl berth last fall.  The defense has had some stellar talent and NFL draft picks, but they just haven’t produced on the field.  Last year they gave up an average of 29 ppg.  That may change with the addition of Brian van Gorder, a former NFL assistant with the Falcons (sorry MBD), but how much control of the defense will Chizik actually relenquish?  Isn’t that his area of, and I use the term loosely, expertise?

Upig at 8-4 (4-4; Wins: aTm, Vandy, UK, USC) – Upig loses a ton of talent at WR and some of their biggest defensive standouts.  Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Jake Bequette were some of the most electrifying players in the league last year and they won’t be easily replaced.  There is some good news, though.  Tyler Wilson is back and so is Knile Davis.  Those two will light up stat sheets and scoreboards like Clark W. Griswald’s methane-laced santa sled.  They’ll also have a strong O line to work behind.  All that said, I may have totally mis-read this prediction. Bobby Pet..ehhh John L. Smith seems to really be the man to take them to the SEC elite.

MSU at 10-2 (6-2; Losses: LSU, Bama) – When we posted the article about MSU’s chances of mirroring Upig’s success in 2011, it really seemed like it had some legs to it.  Everyone else here will be realistic in their expectations of our guys, but I’m a panda and I do as I please.  That is all.

Bama at 11-1 (7-1; Loss: LSU) – Reloading is the name of the game here.  Seems like that’s the theme every year with  the Tide.  Lose Ingram? No problem, T Rich is here.  Lose [insert former 5 star recruit] No problem, [insert former 5 star recruit] is here.  These guys will also benefit from the nation’s top coaching.  Year after year it’s the right combination of talent, leadership and Nick Saban.  Logical thinking would suggest the loss of 4 guys to the first round of the NFL draft should cause for a potential down year, but I just don’t see it.  AJ McCarron seems to continually improve, and Eddie Lacy should fill in at the lead RB position nicely.  This team, unlike the Vols, absolutely get the benefit of ANY doubt.

LSU at 12-0 (8-0) – Their defense will be unreal.  Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo could literally start on all but maybe 3 NFL teams.  The loss of Tyrann Mathieu is huge, but don’t be a prisoner of the moment.  His play-making ability is unlike anyone else, but you could have almost said the same thing about the loss of Patrick Peterson 2 seasons ago.  Don’t agree?  That’s ok, I smoked a lot, a whhoolle lot of spice when I got to #3 on my West predictions.  Ok so besides defense, who else is back?  Spencer Ware, Odell Beckham and Russell Shepard, that’s who.  Oh and Brad Wing.  These guys are at the top of their position in the league.  Great talents, great athletes.  Also, The Wing’s ability to continuously put opposing offenses way back in their own terrirtory only adds to the intimidation of that stellar D.  Mingo and Montgomery will be in everyone’s back field.

It was a tough pick between LSU and Bama, but the swing for me goes to the home team.  I know LSU pulled it out in Bryant-Denny last year, but that’s the rare exception, not the rule when pitting Goliath against Goliath.

East

UK at 3-9 (0-8) – With Danny Trevathan now gone, there really aren’t a lot of bright spots left on this squad.  Morgan Newton is a talent, and definitely worth paying attention to, but his supporting cast offers a lot to be desired with respect to talent.  But hey, nobody knew who Randall Cobb was in a situation similar to this, so who knows?

UT at 6-6 (2-6; Wins: UK, MIZZOU) – I just can’t give them the benefit of the doubt. They showed some glimmer of hope and progress… two years ago.  But last year they squeaked by Vandy and got handled by a UK team who started a WR at QB.  I understand they’re talented in some areas, but do you have confidence in their coaching?  I don’t.  I also don’t have confidence in their running game, finishing last year at an Ole Miss-envying 2.8 yards per carry. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this team actually showed up and won 8 games, but [re-reads first sentence]….

MIZZOU at 6-6 (2-4; Wins: UK, VANDY)  To the Mizzou faithul, I’m apologizing in advance.  I don’t know much about you, and until the season starts, I’m probably just gonna play the ignorance card.  Mainly because your previous production, from a full season’s perspective, is basically null and void.  Your numbers from last year in the BIGiforgothowmanyteamsareinthisconferencenow were pretty middle of the road, so you get an SEC prediction that follows. Not that great and not that bad.  On a sidenote, though, great haul-in with DGB.  Don’t screw it up.

VANDY at 7-5 (3-5; Wins: UK, OM, UT) – I really don’t think these guys are that bad, and it’s tough not to root for James Franklin.  Picking them a little on the high side, but I really think 7 wins is a legitimate goal for this squad. Hell, maybe even 8.  They miss the toughest West opponents (Vs. Auburn, @ OM) and get USC at home to open the season.  They obviously won’t be the favorite against the Gamecocks, but to me that’s not a given L for the ‘Dores.

UF at 9-3 (5-3; Losses to LSU, USC, UGA) – Their defense will keep them in every game they play in 2012. They were top 20 in ppg in 2011, and this year they should only get better.  Can the offense keep pace, though?  No more Jeffery Demps and no more Chris Rainey – last year’s rushing and receiving leaders, respectively.  They’ll also be deciding on a new QB, and that will likely come down to the duo of capable incumbents Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel.  They won’t be a Leak/Tebow duo, though.  The success of this team will likely hinge on one of these guys taking outright control of the starting job.

USC at 9-3 (5-3; Losses to UGA; LSU; ARK) – Another year of improvement for Clowney and the return of Marcus Lattimore – the undisputed #1 ball carrier in this league. No wait, I take that back.  The undisputed #1 ball carrier in the nation (says me, that’s who) – brings a lot of excitement to this team.  Connor Shaw played well to end 2011, and, assuming he improves under Spurrier, will offer even more to this offense in the coming season.  Losing Alshon Jeffrey hurts, but it becomes easier to accept when you remember he got lazy. And not just sort of lazy, the kind of ‘Hey I’m gonna trash my career’ kind of lazy.  What won’t be easy to accept, though, will be the losses of Melvin Ingram, Stephon Gilmore, C.C. Whitlock, and Antonio Allen.  If you’re doing your math at home that’s their entire starting secondary (Thank you, Tyler Wilson, for pointing that out to me). Oh and they lose Ellis Johnson.  Ok, so I know those last few names/tidbits make you question 9-3, but I still think it’s within their grasp.

UGA at 12-0 – Thanks to a stat brought to my attention by MBD, I’m pointing out right now that UGA has 88 and 89% of their offensive and defensive personnel (with respect to yardage gained/# of tackles) returning.  Todd Grantham’s D will be on par with Bama and LSU (whom they won’t see till the SEC CG, but hold that thought.  We’ll get back to it). Their D, much like Florida’s, will keep them in every game.  Their offense is also a lot further ahead than the Gators, though.  Aaron Murray is a first teamer anywhere in the country.  But, they still have a lot of question marks.  Losing thier kickers, Brandon Boykin, Orson Charles, and 3 from their O line will hurt.  They also need to locate a running back.  The reason they get a pass, though?  Their schedule.  Games @ USC, Mizzou, UK and Auburn.  8 home games.  No Bama. No LSU.  No Upig.  If they get past @ USC and a home match up against UF, 12-0 is where I think they end up.  Save UF and USC, the Dawgs should be close to a double digit favorite in every other game  If Jawja isn’t in Atlanta to play their 13th game of the season (no, not you Chik Fil A), Richt may be put in a Federal protection program.  They be gettin’ cray in Athens. Seriously.

So basically the consensus is Georgia will win the East, Ole Miss and Kentucky will be horrible, and MSU will have an excellent season. I hope y’all have an excellent weekend….only two more until football season!