I'm outta here, Auburn. Preseason predictions are made because predictions are fun to make. They also help to pass time, with time being a thing the offseason offers too much of. However a lot of preseason predictions land fantastically afield, the reasoning for such being it's hard to predict something like say, the outcome of a team's season, without actually seeing that team play. So when I, like many, championed Auburn as my preseason SEC favorite, I did so with little basis. I've now seen Auburn play twice though, and I am now predicting that it won't win the SEC. I'm jumping off the bandwagon before it catches fire.
AU may well win this weekend. It may still start the season off 7-0. A double-digit win regular season is not out of the realm of possibility. A few corrections here and there, a little maturity, a return to its roots (i.e. running the ball), a full compliment of players perhaps, and Auburn could make folks forget about this past weekend. But Auburn, decent as it may wind up being, won't win the SEC. I'm sure of this.
Any room aboard? So, if not Auburn then who? I'm now going with Ole Miss. It would be wise to save such a prediction for after this Saturday, the day Ole Miss plays at Alabama. But if one of the merits of making predictions is the ability to gloat about your clairvoyance afterwards, then I want to be on record of jumping on the Rebels bandwagon somewhat early on. Laying a combined 149 points on a pair of patsies to open the season could understandably be met with a shrug, but considering the struggles Ole Miss's conference-mates had with purported creampuffs over the weekend, maybe the Rebels should be feared.
Chad Kelly—again, against chumps I know—has impressed in his first two starts. His offensive weapons abound also. He is still yet to experience the comfort one feels when Laremy Tunsil is blocking for him, an occurrence that will only enhance his play. The Rebels defense appears nigh as stout as last year, equipped from front line to back end with talent and experience, and it is as stingy a bunch as Alabama will see this year. Perhaps the stingiest of all bunches, in fact. Saturday shall be fun.
Speaking of Alabama: the Tide's win on Saturday, though appearing easy, was kinda "meh" if only because they didn't cover the spread. ‘Bama retained its pointless No. 2 ranking in the polls, though I'm still not sure such was ever warranted over TCU. But polls are dumb anyway so whatever. The Tide look fine ahead of Saturday's game, and it seems as if Jake/Jacob (not sure which he prefers) Coker is the guy moving forward. It's still the defensive backfield I'm most curious to see get tested this weekend.
Funnily enough, now I believe in Tennessee. I didn't pick Tennessee to win on Saturday, but I was concerned less with the Vols winning than I was with their overall performance. Oklahoma isn't exactly elite (yet), but if Oklahoma were playing in the SEC East, Oklahoma would win the SEC East, no question. For three quarters, UT kicked Oklahoma's ass. We know what happened next, and that's unfortunate for UT, but since Oklahoma does not play in the SEC East, then the Vols can claim it for themselves. I was a UT skeptic in the pre-season; I'm a believer now. As in, I believe it's just as good as anyone else in the East, not that it's superior to anyone in the east.
Speaking of the East. UGA QB Greyson Lambert struggled in the first half against Vanderbilt, which isn't all that surprising considering he left Virginia because he wasn't good enough to start there. Lambert did better in the second half and is serviceable for a season, I guess, but UGA's quarterback, whether it be Lambert, Brice Ramsey or whoever, isn't likely to emerge as the hero in any games this season. Thankfully for the red and black, they have a bevy of talented ball-carriers and play in the SEC East. The SEC East is all they will win this season, if that.
Staying in the East. Vanderbilt's defense looked good for that same first half against UGA. And again, the ‘Dores are primed to make bigger names like South Carolina or Florida sweat, if not lose, when they square off against ‘em.
Speaking of Carolina, its loss to Kentucky was pretty much expected, right? I've been seeing a lot of stuff about Steve Spurrier and the future of Carolina football since Saturday, such suggesting the UK loss was a surprise. But was it, though? (No, not at all.) Anyhoo, it's gonna be a long season in Columbia.
It may be in Gainesville as well. The Florida offense that showed in the second game is what I expected in the first. It is indeed a work in progress. Fan of yelling Jim McElwain still hasn't named a quarterback, and he can't really, until someone does something to warrant the gig. The competition has extended further than he would've liked it to I'm sure, but credit to him for seeing this battle through throughly—a compliment I'm unable to lavish upon his predecessor.
Back to Kentucky, it goes without saying this weekend's game against Florida serves as UK's best chance in the past 29 years to end its losing streak against the Gators. Win or lose, the game is bound to be tight, for long. Repeat of last year's triple-OT game, perhaps?
What can be said about Arkansas that the scoreboard against Toledo didn't already say?
Mississippi State almost won on Saturday, so the Bulldogs aren't completely out of the West running. That's a decent football team there. Get that offense revved up a little earlier from now on, and there's a chance at contention, maybe.
LSU looked exactly like LSU was thought to look heading into the season: talented there, and there, and there, and there, and there, and there—everywhere but quarterback. Like UGA, I'm not sure the "hand off and get outta the way" method is sustainable on offense over an entire season. LSU's defense is better than UGA's, so maybe the Tigers can get by after all.
Though Auburn is now being written off by virtually everyone (including me), this weekend's game between the two Tigers is really kind of important for both of them. Winner gets the fans' trust as a serious contender. Loser kicks rocks.
Since Arkansas no longer looks any good, we may have to wait till Texas A&M's game with Mississippi State to see whether the Aggies are serious about being taken seriously this season.
And speaking of teams that joined the SEC three years ago: ooh Missouri, close one, eh? That Arkansas St. can be a pesky bunch. Ask USC.
Superlatives! If not for Leonard Fournette and Cassanova McKinzy, LSU and Auburn respectively, lose their games last weekend. Well, LSU for sure, Auburn a strong maybe. Good job guys: you two are the Co-Players of the Week!
On the coaching side, the honor goes to Mark Stoops, who led Kentucky to its first conference road win in 22 games! Kentucky, ya'll: on the come up.
Unit of the week goes to, I don't know, Georgia's O-line for blocking well for Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and others to rack up a combined and much needed 284 rushing yards. Good job.