Why I'm picking Alabama-Georgia for the SEC football championship
Because I'm not at SEC media days this year (our Tom Jones is), I'm not included in the official media predictions set to be released tomorrow morning.
So, for entertainment purposes only, here are my predicted standings SEC football standings for the fall. As I said last year, I'm terrible at betting (just ask my friends about my poker skills), and if I were any good at predicting things, I'd be a millionaire in Vegas. I'll revisit these after the season to show just how wrong I was, and I'll post my ACC predictions tomorrow morning during its media days (where I am).
1. Alabama. Really going out on a limb, I know. But ‘Bama has more talent than anyone in the country (again), returns the SEC offensive player of the year (quarterback Jalen Hurts) and another ridiculous defense. Why would you pick against Nick Saban?
2. Auburn. When Gus Malzahn has a good quarterback, he looks like a genius. And I think Jarrett Stidham is a pretty darn good quarterback. Watch for Tampa Catholic/Pasco High receiver Nate Craig-Myers to have a breakout year, too.
3. LSU. The Tigers should have a good defense, a great back (Derrius Guice) and no quarterback. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
4. Texas A&M. Prediction: If the Aggies lose at Florida on Oct. 14, coach Kevin Sumlin gets fired before reaching home, Lane Kiffin-style. If the Aggies beat the Gators, Sumlin keeps his job...all the way until December.
5. Arkansas. Bret Bielema and the Hogs always seem to find good running backs, but the Rawleigh Williams injury seems like an enormous loss.
6. Mississippi State. Nick Fitzgerlad loses a lot of his offensive weapons, but he'll still be one of the three best quarterbacks in the SEC.
7. Ole Miss. Good news: The Rebels have a pretty weak schedule (Vandy and Kentucky in the East, at Cal as the toughest non-conference game). Bad news: I think they implode as the NCAA scandal continues.
1. Georgia. The Bulldogs return 17 starters and have the best backfield in the country (outside of Tuscaloosa). I think Jacob Eason will play like a former five-star recruit, and that will be enough to get Kirby Smart into the SEC title game in his second season.
2. Florida. I think the defense takes a step back, and I still have questions at offensive line and quarterback. Would it surprise me if the Gators made it back to Atlanta? No. But I give UGA a slightly better shot, as I sit here in a hotel lobby in July.
3. Kentucky. I'm pretty confident that UF and UGA are the top two (in some order), but after that, it's a crapshoot. So...Kentucky! The Wildcats have 17 returning starters, a senior quarterback (Stephen Johnson) and a 1,000-yard rusher. I'm not bold enough to predict a UK victory over UF on Sept. 23, but it's not a gimme.
4. Tennessee. If the Vols couldn't break through and win the East last year, with all that talent, I just don't see it happening under Butch Jones.
5. South Carolina. Will Muschamp finally has a quarterback. Jake Bentley is legit. Not enough to get the Gamecocks into the top tier, but it's a start.
6. Missouri. The Tigers return a lot (including quarterback Drew Lock) and might be able to scare one of the better teams, but I don't think they have the depth to compete regularly.
7. Vanderbilt. Running back Ralph Webb is great. There's just not enough around him.
Alabama over Georgia. The Tide has more talent than anyone else and the best coach in the country. Again. Until that changes, everyone is chasing ‘Bama in a race they won't win.