Let me begin by saying that I hate college preseasons predictions. It’s not because I dislike speculating and making bold predictions. It’s because they are more likely to be wrong than right. Experts like ourselves make predictions based off of limited information and without seeing teams in actual game like settings. Most preseason predictions are heavily affected by prior years results and built in bias. Preseason predictions in college football are about as worthless as the paper they are printed on. That’s why we have put ours on the internet so that you can come back at the end of year and heckle us. So here we go…
Most Improved team in 2014
JP: Arkansas is going to have a tremendous turn-a-round this year and win a game outside the month of September this year. It will be in October against UAB. I expect Florida to be the most improved team. They have the talent to make noise in the SEC East if the offense stops looking like the abomination it has been the last two years.
Ash: I’m looking at Kentucky for this. For a team that went 2-10 I’m looking them to contend for a bowl spot. I firmly believe that Kentucky will not finish last in the SEC East and short of Arkansas making a bowl game (which I do not believe is in the cards) there really isn’t anyone more deserving.
Nate: I don’t believe that Walt Disney will be scripting this years SEC standings.There will be no fairytale turn around for anyone team. It will be a slobber-knocker SEC season, getting back to tradition. That being said, I see four teams making a three game upward trend: UGA, Florida, UT, and Ole Miss
Honest Abe: Missouri. Just you wait… It will be the most EPIC 7-5 season you’ve never heard of!
Most Dis-improved team in 2014
JP: When you climb to the top unexpectedly like Missouri did last year, sometimes it is more of a challenge to stay. Missouri is returning 8 total starters from last year’s team. That’s good for tied in last with Utah State for the least amount of returning starters in the country. The SEC is a treacherous place and being dead last in returning starters will see your team suffer the consequences. Honorable mention might go to Vanderbilt.
Ash: Boring consensus pick here has me picking Missouri as well. There are just too many pieces removed for the Tigers and it’s unlikely that Florida and Georgia will struggle against them like they did last year. I still think Missouri could find itself in the top 3 SEC East teams but given that they won the division last year it’s likely they’ll be the biggest drop. Look out for Texas A&M here potentially as well, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they are outside looking during bowl season this year.
Nate: This distinction will fall on last year’s SEC East champs, the Mizzou Tigers. Vandy’s ex-coach wasn’t the only James Franklin leaving the SEC this year. With only 3 offensive starters returning, and co-SEC defensive player of the is gone; it is inevitable that there will be a drop off in production. I see the tigers from the Midwest taking a 4 game slide as the fall back to SEC reality.
Honest Abe: Arkansas. But let’s be honest (no pun intended). Was anybody really expecting much anyway?
JP: Mike Davis RB/South Carolina Last year, Davis “quietly” rushed for 1183 yards. South Carolina is returning the bulk of their offensive line. If the Gamecocks are going to make a run for Atlanta, it is going to be on the strength of defense and the legs of Davis.
Ash: Nick Marshall QB/Auburn I think that Nick Marshall could be lined up to have a very special season. The offensive weapons surrounding him could have him in the Heisman talk if things play out right. I don’t see anyone else in that conversation so MVP it is.
Nate: Laquon Treadwell WR/Ole Miss My pre-season thoughts tell me that QB’s win this more times than not… But that’s why I go for the underdogs. With Bo Wallace at the helm, Moncrief catching on Sundays now, and a lack of a serious hard-nosed running game; I feel that the Rebels offense will be running through Treadwell by season’s end. I am going with 1200 yards receiving and 400 yards rushing. He has the potential to be the next Percy Harvin-type player, minus the migraines…
Honest Abe: MVP? Wasn’t that a minivan or something like that?
JP: Landon Collins, S/Alabama Last year, Collins stepped in when starting Strong Safety Vince Sunseri went down with injury midway through the season. Collins thrived as a replacement recording 70 tackles and 2 interceptions. This time next year he will more than likely be fighting for a starting spot somewhere in the NFL.
Ash: Robert Nkemdiche DL,Ole Miss There are significant number of people picking Ole Miss to have one of those special break-out seasons and challenge for the SEC West. I personally don’t see them breaking into the top 2 but if they are going to have a special season Nkemdiche is going to have to play a significant part of that.
Nate: Ramik Wilson, LB/Georgia With a slew of starters back and a new defensive coordinator with a national championship pedigree (former Florida State DC Jeremy Pruitt), the Dawg’s defense will be much improved this year. If so, Wilson’s production could lead to big postseason reward.
Honest Abe: Dammit!
SEC East Champion and why?
JP: The two most consistent teams over the last four years has been Alabama and South Carolina. The Gamecocks are returning a veteran offensive line, a stud running back, and a quarterback who has gotten significant and meaningful snaps over the last two seasons. I never thought I would have to say this, but Steve Spurrier is going to rely on his running game and a salty defense to get to Atlanta. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Ash: South Carolina. Honestly if it wasn’t for an awful game last year S.C. would have been in this position last year so considering the pieces they are bringing back and the schedule they are playing I don’t see them taking any backwards steps.
Nate: As much as this pains me , I have to go with the University of Georgia. I am preparing myself for all the barking I will have to hear this year, living in Atlanta. I can’t say that I am excited about it, but I believe the new defensive coordinator coming into such a talented roster puts them over the USC hump. Throw in arguably the best running back in the Nation and a 5th year senior taking over at QB, and I think the offense will have enough to drive them to Atlanta in December.
Honest Abe: South Carolina. They got more heads than tails… which seems really out of character for a bunch of jocks, but who am I to judge?
SEC West Champion and Why?
JP: Picking the SEC East winner was easy. I had two options: South Carolina or Georgia. Picking the SEC West winner is a complete and total crapshoot. In my opinion, it’s a three team race between Alabama, Auburn, and LSU. Alabama and LSU have plenty of questions on offense after losing their starting quarterbacks. Additonally, Alabama has questions marks on the offensive line while LSU lost its best receivers. Both teams always put a quality defense on the field. Auburn has a returning quarterback and an impressive offense, but question marks on defense and an extremely difficult schedule. I could make a case for any of these three teams to end up in Atlanta and feel confident about it. However, I’m rolling with Auburn based off Gus Malzahn having a second year quarterback. That’s something he has never had.
Ash: I still think this year comes down to LSU and Auburn. I think Alabama will struggle and it’ll be between them and Ole Miss for the 3rd spot. It’s a homer pick and one I tried hard to make sure was justified given my viewpoint, but either I can’t see straight with my orange and blue glasses or this year could be a great season for Auburn.
Nate: Through all of the hype and excitement for this season, I can’t forget my role as the lover of the underdog. That being said, I am riding the dark horse to Atlanta from the west. There will be a Freeze in Atlanta this December, but this one won’t shut the city down for two days. Ole Miss has the QB experience and defense to make the run to the SEC championship, as long as that run isn’t up the gut.
Honest Abe: Straight from the depths of the fryer pit, the LSU corndogs for the same reasons as above, well… lots of heads!
Ash: Auburn over South Carolina. I actually have South Carolina edging Auburn in their first meeting of the year so I think given that Auburn tops them in the rematch.
Nate: UGA finally lives up to the hype under Richt, a first in his 13 year tenure.
Honest Abe: The penny favored South Carolina, and I tend to agree.
Your Darkhorse team
JP: The trendy pick is to go with one of the Mississippi schools. Both are returning quarterbacks and have defenses that could give everyone else fits. Before Damien Robinson went down for Mississippi State, they were going to be my pick. Since that happened, my focus has shifted east to the Swamp. Florida has the talent to make a resurgence on offense. Defense has never been the main issue under Muschamp, its been the offense. Last time Florida hired a coach away from Duke it did them wonders. Maybe it will be the same this time.
Ash: Kentucky. The Wildcats aren’t just a basketball school anymore. But seriously, I think Kentucy will go bowling this year. If we’re talking the team with the chance to win it all then I’m looking at LSU. LSU is really getting no love nationally and is pretty much expected to be 3rd or worse in the West. This team has holes, but they could make a push for the title if they are able to reload quick enough.
Nate: Since I rode this answer all the way to the Georgia Dome, in earlier predictions, I will go with another team. For me, Tennessee now has the coaching and young talent to make some noise in the east. Most “experts” aren’t even really talking about them, but Butch Jones has quietly loaded that roster with young talent and explosiveness. The east is down and either of the top 2 teams could be beaten any given week, plus I am not high on the Driskell train with the Muschamp Express down in Gainesville. Don’t be completely shocked if UT ends up resembling last years Mizzou team.
Honest Abe: Texas Tech. But they literally have a dark horse, so it’s kind of an unfair advantage I guess.
Preseason Predictions by team.
Didn’t talk about your team enough or wonder what we thing your team will do this year? Here is our record predictions for each team:
We hope you join us on Thursday when we publish our Week 1 Predictions!