As usual I have my college football predictions for college football for the new season. I will focus on the SEC, giving a win-loss record and bowl destination for each team with a brief summary of the prediction. I will then give you my predictions for the other BCS conferences and the BCS Bowl match-ups.
FYI, I plan to post a review post early each week, adding a Top 25 a few weeks into the season. Also I will run a weekend preview post. I will try to be reliable about this, we'll see how it goes.
2011 SEC Predictions
1. South Carolina 11-1 (7-1) (L at Arkansas)
Admittedly you could say this is a total homer pick from me, a proud Gamecock alum, but honestly I think it's hard not to pick the Gamecocks this season to win the division. Best receiver in the league? Check (Alshon Jeffrey). Best running back in the league, at least arguably? Check (Marcus Lattimore). Veteran signal-caller? Check (Stephen Garcia). Consistently strong defense? Check.
History is the lone factor riding against the garnet and black in 2011, and I that can't be the only thing. The only loss I have predicted is on a November trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Worst case scenario: 7-5 with losses at Miss St, at Arkansas, at Tennessee, at Georgia, at vs Florida
2. Georgia 10-2 (7-1) (L's vs Boise St & vs South Carolina)
The schedule is fantastic. The schedule has many calling them to win the division, but the schedule starts out rough. I believe unless Georgia is all the way back that Boise St is gonna be hard for the Bulldogs to handle, and seems more than likely a loss. Then Georgia welcomes pre-season top-15 South Carolina to Athens. Normally home-field would be a huge advantage, but for Georgia this is not the case and in this series it hasn't meant much. I think Georgia then rips off ten straight wins to close the season. It's not beyond comprehension at all that South Carolina beats Georgia but trips up with a tougher schedule and the Bulldogs win the division.
Worst case scenario: 6-6 with losses also vs Miss St, at Tenn, vs Florida, vs Auburn
3. Kentucky 7-5 (3-5) (L's at LSU, at South Carolina, vs Miss St, at Georgia, vs Tenn)
Kentucky has settled in as a team that wins 6 or 7 games and gets a bowl bid. That ain't bad for the Wildcats given their doormat status of not so long ago. They may well again find a big upset trophy to pin on their wall, but this year doesn't seem to bode that kind of result.
Worst case scenario: 3-9, going win-less in conference and losing to rival Louisville
4. Tennessee 6-6 (2-6) (L's at Fla, vs UGa, vs LSU, at Bama, vs S Carolina, at Arkansas)
The Vols found their QB last season, and I had been preparing a decent prediction for Big Orange until I saw their schedule. Drawing the three toughest Western Division opponents prevent them from surpassing 6 wins in my mind. They don't yet have the depth of talent to do much more than that. Keep your head up, Rocky Top, I do think you're headed in the right directions but you've gotta overcome your past mistakes (Lane Kiffin and the mistakes he made, that is).
Worst case scenario: 5-7, with Kentucky breaking their insufferable losing streak to Tennessee
5. Florida 5-7 (2-6) (L's at UK, vs Bama, at LSU, at Auburn, vs Georgia, at SC, vs FSU)
It feels weird, but each time I go back I can't see the Gators winning more than 7 games on their schedule. I think Kentucky is going to relish the opportunity to take on Florida for their first road game under an entirely different coaching staff. I also think Georgia is primed for a big season and will be able to beat Florida for the fourth time since 1990. You could argue Florida will beat Auburn, but I won't. The remaining 4 losses I have them pegged for are hard to argue.
Worst case scenario: My prediction
6. Vanderbilt 5-7 (2-6) (L's at SC, at Bama, vs UGa, vs Ark, at Fla, at Tenn, vs Wake)
I believe Vanderbilt has finally found the coach who can take Vanderbilt as far as it is capable, which is consistently contending for bowl eligibility. Be honest, that's really their ceiling unless academic restrictions are relaxed. I do hope Vandy gets a good run before bigger jobs come calling.
Worst case scenario: 1-11, with only win over Elon, and honestly there's no guarantee there, it's Vanderbilt
1. Alabama 11-1 (7-1) (L at Miss St)
The Tide are a consensus title contender. They're really good, they get their toughest two games at home (LSU, Ark), and did I mention they're really good? No doubt they will have a strong defense. They replace Mark Ingram on a larger basis with Trent Richardson, who some argue was better than Ingram when he won the Heisman. The quarterback is largely successful purely if they don't screw it up.
Worst case scenario: 9-3, losing to LSU, Arkansas, and Miss St
2. LSU 10-2 (6-2) (L's at Miss St, at Alabama)
Don't get too worked up by the recent news where LSU QB Jordan Jefferson seems unlikely to play most of the season, if any at all, because he wasn't a strength of the Bayou Bengals. He was their biggest weakness, despite immense talent. LSU will use defense, special teams, and a bag of magical fairy dust to win their games. I still think they're fully capable of winning every one of their games, but the game against Alabama is in Tuscaloosa this season.
Worst case scenario: 8-4, losses vs Oregon, at Miss St/at WVU, at Alabama, vs Arkansas
3. Arkansas 10-2 (6-2) (L's at Alabama, at LSU)
Drawing the the other two contenders for the division both on the road is what hurts the Hogs. Their defense seems very much on the rise, and their offense will be able to move through the air. Ryan Mallett was good, but just review what Bobby Petrino did at Louisville and you'll see why I expect them to not miss much of a beat. RB Knile Davis being out for the season is really the final nail in the coffin for the any Arkansas division title. With him they could do it, I don't think they can without it or a 2-loss division winner.
Worst case scenario: 8-4, losses at Alabama, vs Texas A&M, vs S Carolina, at LSU
4. Mississippi St 9-3 (5-3) (L's at Georgia, vs S Carolina, at Arkansas)
Dan Mullen can coach football, period. With a collection of spare parts that looked a lot more like the Island of Misfit Toys than a top-25 Rivals recruiting class Mullen was able to get Mississippi St to the Gator Bowl. I think the ascension continues the Bulldogs, unfortunately I think it ends with Mullen leaving in the next couple years for a much bigger opening. Everyone who didn't hire him will really feel it then.
Worst case scenario: 6-6, losses at Auburn, vs LSU, at Georgia, vs S Carolina, at Kentucky, at Arkansas
5. Auburn 6-6 (2-6) (L's vs Miss St, at S Carolina, at Ark, at LSU, at UGa, vs Bama)
I had it in my head that Auburn would have a pretty good season this year, but then I saw the schedule. Drawing the top SEC East team on the road in addition to Georgia and Florida is rough (not Kentucky, Vandy, or Tennessee). Plus the Western division sans Ole Miss is loaded. They even drew a difficult non-conference road game at Clemson. Auburn will have plenty of talent, but it's hard to see much better than 8 wins with this schedule.
Worst case scenario: 4-8, my prediction plus losses at Clemson & vs Florida
6. Ole Miss 2-10 (0-8) (L's vs all but Southern Illinois and Louisiana Tech)
Seriously, I have no words. Anybody else know what Houston Nutt is doing in Oxford? Other than over-signing like a true champ? I do love the right reverend Houston Dale Nutt, but I've got no idea where this program is headed other than into the ground at the speed of sound.
Worst case scenario: They could lose to Louisiana Tech? (aka: SCLSU Mud Dogs)
SEC BOWL PROJECTIONS
National Championship Game: South Carolina (there's an edge Spurrier/Elliott Johnson have vs Saban)
BCS at-large (Sugar): Alabama
Peach: Mississippi St
Music City: Tennessee
The artist formerly known as the FrozenPizzaDOTcom Bowl: No SEC team, only 9 bowl eligible
The other conferences
Title Game: Wisconsin vs Michigan St
Others: Nebraska and Iowa have a shot, in whatever stupid division they're in
WINNER: Wisconsin, I just love adding Russell Wilson to what the Badgers have built
Contenders: Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Texas A&M
Others: Texas can't go from no bowl to winning the conference, will take time to make changes needed
WINNER: Oklahoma, they will win the battle for the conference, but will take on too much damage to play or the national title
Title Game: Oregon vs Arizona
Others: Southern Cal still not postseason eligible
WINNER: Oregon, would like Stanford if Jim Harbaugh had stuck around another season
Title Game: Florida St vs Virginia Tech
Others: There isn't anybody else, these two will boat race the rest
WINNER: Florida St, the trendy pick but feels like it, only question is if they go undefeated thru December
Others: I guess we can rule out Syracuse, maybe?
WINNER: Feels too easy, but West Virginia (this one's for you, Coach Stew!)
BCS BOWL PREDICTIONS
Florida St vs West Virginia (it's the "WE KICKED BOBBY BOWDEN OUT" Bowl)
Oregon vs Oklahoma St
Oklahoma vs Virginia Tech
Alabama vs Boise St
National Championship Game
South Carolina vs Wisconsin
Finally, along with a large helping of lolz is your moment of zen: