With SEC Media Days complete in Atlanta, the preseason discussion around college football is in full swing. With it comes the hopes and dreams of fans of every team for a successful season. Which teams will realize those dreams? And which teams won’t? Find out how each team will finish this season below. In addition to bringing you our ballot, we’ve also added in some predictions from some of our national and regional partners.
2018 SEC Preseason Predictions
The SEC promises once again to be one of the best conferences in college football. The Western Division, in particular, continues its intra-conference superiority.
- Alabama (12-0): The Crimson Tide just reload. Any other team that lost eight players from its defense to the NFL draft, its top receiver, a top running back, and an offensive line — yes, 12 players total, and had a simmering quarterback controversy — would be due to come back to the pack. Not Alabama. Nick Saban has built another dynasty in Tuscaloosa. Until Alabama is dethroned, it’s going to be hard to pick against them.
Mississippi State (9-3): The Bulldogs are flying under the radar yet again. New head coach Joe Moorhead had Penn State’s offenses humming when he left Happy Valley. Will he be able to do with Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams what he did with Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley? And the Bulldogs have the top defensive line in the nation. That’s the most important consideration in picking them second in the division.
- Auburn (9-3): While Jarrett Stidham has put up good numbers, he hasn’t quite found consistency in Gus Malzahn‘s offense. The potential for greatness is on The Plains, but the Tigers have to come up big in several key spots. They’ll have to rely on a talented, yet largely unheralded, group to do so.
- Texas A&M (7-5): The Jimbo Fisher experiment in College Station is one of the most compelling storylines in the upcoming season. There’s a lot of people who think he’s the missing ingredient to getting that program to the next level. And while he’s got talent on the roster, he’s got to go through a lot of other talented teams to get there.
- LSU (6-6): Tigers faithful are pinning their hopes on a transfer quarterback and a shut down corner. There’s plenty more in Baton Rouge, but the combination of inexperience, a tough division and a yet-unproven head coach (three times over) shouldn’t evoke confidence from the objective fan. Look for the off-season to be contentious on the Bayou.
- Mississippi (6-6): Ole Miss put up some big numbers late in 2017. Even got to love what Matt Luke and Jordan Ta’amu are doing in Oxford. Under the weight of scandal and probation from the NCAA, the Rebels have went from a Hugh-Freeze-used-car-salesman mindset to a Matt-Luke-Offensive-Lineman-tough-and-scrappy mindset. The Rebels are good enough to score one big upset this year. Watch out Auburn.
- Arkansas (5-7): The Bielema experiment just didn’t work in Arkansas. Of all the new hires in the conference, the Chad Morris-to-Arkansas move was the one that just didn’t have a natural fit to it. Morris has been successful wherever he’s been, but it’s going to be a long road back in Fayetteville.
- Georgia (11-1): The Bulldogs have Jake Fromm with another off-season of experience and a factory where they churn out all-conference running backs. But they lost a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. Regardless, they are far-and-away the class of the SEC East.
- Missouri (9-3): Missouri will surprise people this year. Drew Lock is the real deal. He’s talented enough to carry this team on his shoulders. They’ve got two potential all-conference receivers, return every offensive lineman, two good running backs, two great defensive linemen, and three solid linebackers. But Derek Dooley as offensive coordinator? That should worry Tigers fans.
- South Carolina (8-4): With Clemson and Georgia on the schedule, that’s two losses to start with. The Gamecocks are a team that look good on paper, but Will Muschamp did less with more at Florida. Can he finally rehabilitate his reputation? If so, he’ll have to do it around a potent offense including Jake Bentley, Rico Dowdle, and Deebo Samuel. One bad break and it could be a disappointing season in Columbia.
- Florida (7-5): No new coaching hire has reinvigorated the fan base more than Dan Mullen‘s return to Gainesville. If the noted dual-threat quarterback guru can get effective play from his signal callers, the Gators can move on from the disaster of 2017. The Gators will play everyone close, and get back to a Bowl.
- Tennessee (6-6): No fan base is ready for football more than Vols fans. After the craziest off-season that any fan base can imagine, the Vols are hoping Jeremy Pruitt can get the Vols back to focusing on football and football only. Much like the mindset change in Oxford, there’s a new attitude around the program. Look for the Vols to make a late-season surge.
- Kentucky (5-7): Big Blue brings back the best running back in the conference in Benny Snell, Jr. The linebackers will be good, as well. But Kentucky isn’t Alabama, and they can’t just reload year-after-year. It’s going to be a struggle for the Wildcats to stay above water this season. An effective downfield passing game will be crucial for any success.
Vanderbilt (4-8): Is Kyle Shurmur as good as his statistics? Not without Ralph Webb. Webb’s departure to the NFL, along with over half of defense, will put added pressure on Vanderbilt’s offense. They draw Arkansas from the West and get Tennessee at home. There’s hope for the Commodores, but they’ll be living on a razor-thin margin of error on West End all season.
Here’s some predictions from some of our partners around the SEC.
Mark Rogers, host of MarkRogersTV:
David Waters, host of Gators Breakdown:
David Knight, of LastWordonCollegeFootball:
Kevin McGuffey, of LastWordonCollegeFootball:
There you have it. Now may be the time for talking, but soon the talking will end and the time for action will be on the field. And with it, the hopes and dreams of SEC fans across the southeast.