2020 SEC Season Preview


(image credit: John David Mercer - USA Today Sports

Written by: Joseph Yun

Twitter: 2Yoon2ZeroBlitz


As the major powers of FBS football continue their season, it’s time to take a look at the third conference to kick off their season, the SEC. The other two conferences have had games outright canceled or postponed. Unlike the other two, the SEC didn’t have any non-conference games on their schedules. If you missed the conference previews in the series, you can find them below


ACC

Big12


How will each SEC team fare in their iteration of college football? Can the traditional powers maintain their stranglehold atop the conference? Will Georgia finally get over their Alabama bugaboo? Can Nick Saban guide the Tide back to the mountaintop after a too long (for him) hiatus?


EAST


Florida


Sat. Sept 26 AWAY @ Ole Miss (W)

Sat. Oct 3 HOME vs. South Carolina (W)

Sat. Oct 10 AWAY @ Texas A&M (L)

Sat. Oct 17 HOME vs. LSU (W)

Sat. Oct 24 HOME vs. Missouri (W)

BYE

Sat. Nov 7 WLOCP vs. Georgia (L)

Sat. Nov 14 HOME vs. Arkansas (W)

Sat. Nov 21 AWAY @ Vanderbilt (W)

Sat. Nov 28 HOME vs. Kentucky (W)

Sat. Dec 5 AWAY @ Tennessee (L)


- The Gators return a large majority of their starters, which include QB Kyle Trask, TE Kyle Pitts, and OT Stone Forsythe from a team that was a touchdown away from taking the SEC East from Georgia. The defense while relatively young retained DC Todd Grantham and has veteran DB Marco Wilson. Of course, the whole season will swing at that game in Jacksonville. Regardless, the schedule is light enough to merit consideration as a repeat SEC East contender.


Predicted Record: 7-3


Georgia


Sat. Sept 26 AWAY @ Arkansas (W)

Sat. Oct 3 HOME vs. Auburn (W)

Sat. Oct 10 HOME @ Tennessee (W)

Sat. Oct 17 AWAY @ Alabama (L)

Sat. Oct 24 AWAY @ Kentucky (W)

BYE

Sat. Nov 7 WLOCP vs. Florida (W)

Sat. Nov 14 AWAY @ Missouri (W)

Sat. Nov 21 HOME vs. Mississippi State (W)

Sat. Nov 28 AWAY @ South Carolina (W)

Sat. Dec 5 HOME vs. Vanderbilt (W)


- While Georgia has a penchant to blow one that it shouldn’t (i.e. 2019 against South Carolina), the schedule is favorable enough to prevent that from happening. The only surefire loss is the date with Alabama. UGA has lost a ton of talent from last year but Kirby Smart has recruited a top-five level during his tenure so the losses won’t be so drastic. It appears that Dwan Mathis has won the starting job at QB after Jamie Newman opted out and USC transfer JT Daniels isn’t fully healthy yet. Multiple high round draft picks dot the roster so the team isn’t short there. WR George Pickens is emerging as a superstar that succeeded despite Jake Fromm’s limitations. As per custom, the banned colloquial rivalry name for that engagement in Jacksonville will ultimately decide the East. OC Todd Monken and OL coach Matt Luke should improve things on offense over OC predecessor James Coley.


Predicted Record: 9-1


Kentucky


Sat. Sept 26 AWAY @ Auburn (L)

Sat. Oct 3 HOME vs. Ole Miss (W)

Sat. Oct 10 HOME vs. Mississippi State (W)

Sat. Oct 17 AWAY @ Tennessee (W)

Sat. Oct 24 HOME vs. Georgia (L)

Sat. Oct 31 AWAY @ Missouri (W)

BYE

Sat. Nov 14 HOME vs. Vanderbilt (W)

Sat. Nov 21 AWAY @ Alabama (L)

Sat. Nov 28 AWAY @ Florida (L)

Sat. Dec 5 HOME vs. South Carolina (W)


- After a year dedicated to the Lynn Bowden driven Wildcat offense, Kentucky has returned former starter Terry Wilson after an injury derailed his 2019 campaign. The Wildcats return a ton of talent from that team and Mark Stoops has built a competitive program. So no, Big Blue Nation, it isn’t quite basketball season just yet. The key swing games will be against Tennessee and Florida. Big Blue has kept it close over the past several years against Florida, losing only to catastrophic mental errors late so expect the losing to Florida to continue. They should sweep the Mississippi schools as both programs have new coaches. Missouri and Vanderbilt are just about surefire wins for every team besides Arkansas. A winning record will keep the Wildcats rolling into 2021. Interestingly, Joey Gatewood transferred in from Auburn, who opens the season with Kentucky.


Predicted Record: 6-4


Missouri


Sat. Sept 26 HOME vs. Alabama (L)

Sat. Oct 3 AWAY @ Tennessee (L)

Sat. Oct 10 AWAY @ LSU (L)

Sat. Oct 17 HOME vs. Vanderbilt (W)

Sat. Oct 24 AWAY @ Florida (L)

Sat. Oct 31 HOME vs. Kentucky (L)

BYE

Sat. Nov 14 HOME vs. Georgia (L)

Sat. Nov 21 AWAY @ South Carolina (L)

Sat. Nov 28 HOME vs. Arkansas (W)

Sat. Dec 5 AWAY @ Mississippi State (L)


- Poor Eli Drinkwitz. He goes from perennial G6 contender App State to the emerging tire fire that is Missouri. He might not win a game with the brutal schedule the SEC laid out for them. Unless he can engineer some miracles in Columbia, it will be a bleak 2020 for the Tigers. There’s still talent on the roster like RB Larry Rountree III but it’s a true year 0 rebuild job.. The swing games: South Carolina and Mississippi State. The tough schedule belies the roster’s talent.


Predicted Record: 2-8


South Carolina


Sat. Sept 26 HOME vs. Tennessee (L)

Sat. Oct 3 AWAY @ Florida (L)

Sat. Oct 10 AWAY @ Vanderbilt (W)

Sat. Oct 17 HOME vs. Auburn (L)

Sat. Oct 24 HOME vs. LSU (L)

BYE

Sat. Nov 7 HOME vs. Texas A&M (L)

Sat. Nov 14 AWAY @ Ole Miss (W)

Sat. Nov 21 HOME vs. Missouri (W)

Sat. Nov 28 HOME vs. Georgia (L)

Sat. Dec 5 AWAY @ Kentucky (L)


- Someone doesn’t appreciate South Carolina in the SEC office. If Missouri’s schedule is bad, South Carolina’s is somehow tougher. Will Muschamp might not see 2021 as the Gamecocks’ head coach. Javon Kinlaw and Bryan Edwards aren’t walking through that door. WR Shi Smith could be the only legitimate draftable talent on the roster. The Battle of Columbia might decide Muschamp’s fate if he isn’t relieved of his duties by then.


Predicted Record: 3-7


Tennessee


Sat. Sept 26 AWAY @ South Carolina (W)

Sat. Oct 3 HOME vs. Missouri (W)

Sat. Oct 10 AWAY @ Georgia (L)

Sat. Oct 17 HOME vs. Kentucky (L)

Sat. Oct 24 HOME vs. Alabama (L)

BYE

Sat. Nov 7 AWAY @ Arkansas (W)

Sat. Nov 14 HOME vs. Texas A&M (L)

Sat. Nov 21 AWAY @ Auburn (L)

Sat. Nov 28 AWAY @ Vanderbilt (W)

Sat. Dec 5 HOME vs. Florida (L)


- Inconsistency is the name of Tennessee’s game. It might be a long year for Jeremy Pruitt’s charges. There just isn’t enough talent to make some noise against the big dogs of the conference. The Vols need some resolution at quarterback and the offensive coordinator Jim Chaney isn’t it. Let’s hope Pruitt has built enough cache in recruiting to stick around for the 2021 season.


Predicted Record: 3-7


Vanderbilt


Sat. Sept 26 AWAY @ Texas A&M (L)

Sat. Oct 3 HOME vs. LSU (L)

Sat. Oct 10 HOME vs. South Carolina (L)

Sat. Oct 17 AWAY @ Missouri (L)

BYE

Sat. Oct 31 HOME vs. Ole Miss (L)

Sat. Nov 7 AWAY @ Mississippi State (L)

Sat. Nov 14 AWAY @ Kentucky (L)

Sat. Nov 21 HOME vs. Florida (L)

Sat. Nov 28 HOME vs. Tennessee (L)

Sat. Dec 5 AWAY @ Georgia (L)


- Ouch. Vanderbilt may not win a game with their talent level and schedule difficulty. All factors that will likely coincide with saying goodbye to the Derek Mason regime in arguably the worst Power 5 job this side of Rutgers.


Predicted Record: 0-10


SEC WEST


Alabama


Sat. Sept 26 AWAY @ Missouri (W)

Sat. Oct 3 HOME vs. Texas A&M (W)

Sat. Oct 10 AWAY @ Ole Miss (W)

Sat. Oct 17 HOME vs. Georgia (W)

Sat. Oct 24 AWAY @ Tennessee (W)

Sat. Oct 31 HOME vs. Mississippi State (W)

BYE

Sat. Nov 14 AWAY @ LSU (W)

Sat. Nov 21 HOME vs. Kentucky (W)

Sat. Nov 28 HOME Iron Bowl (W)

Sat. Dec 5 AWAY @ Arkansas (W)


- Year after year, yeah you get the drill. A relatively easy schedule that bears witness to Missouri and Kentucky as their crossover opponents should result in an undefeated season. The big game will be obviously the Dawgs traveling to Tuscaloosa. The Third Saturday in October is a 100% guaranteed win on repeat. One tricky test awaits in Baton Rouge against a decimated but still talented LSU squad. The Iron Bowl should be fascinating as it usually is. The biggest question for the Tide is how long incumbent QB Mac Jones can hold off freshman phenom Bryce Young.


Predicted Record: 10-0


Arkansas


Sat. Sept 26 HOME vs. Georgia (L)

Sat. Oct 3 AWAY @ Mississippi State (L)

Sat. Oct 10 AWAY @ Auburn (L)

Sat. Oct 17 HOME vs. Ole Miss (L)

BYE

Sat. Oct 24 AWAY @ Texas A&M (L)

Sat. Nov 7 HOME vs. Tennessee (L)

Sat. Nov 14 AWAY @ Florida (L)

Sat. Nov 21 HOME vs. LSU (L)

Sat. Nov 28 AWAY @ Missouri (L)

Sat. Dec 5 HOME vs. Alabama (L)


- Arkansas has been through so many personnel changes that it would make one Jimmy Haslam blush green with envy. Interesting but conflicting offensive styles permeating the staff with HC Sam Pittman’s staid ball control background to mesh with OC Kendal Briles’ up-tempo WRs galore attack. The Razorbacks might not be any good for a while as Pittman is embarking on a true year 0 rebuild of the moribund program after years of roster mismanagement. Graduate transfer quarterback Felipe Franks should make it fun at the least. Will Arkansas get a win? In my best Sam Pittman voice, NO SIRRR


Predicted Record: 0-10


Auburn


Sat. Sept 26 HOME vs. Kentucky (W)

Sat. Oct 3 AWAY @ Georgia (L)

Sat. Oct 10 HOME vs. Arkansas (W)

Sat. Oct 17 AWAY @ South Carolina (W)

Sat. Oct 24 AWAY @ Ole Miss (W)

Sat. Oct 31 HOME vs. LSU (L)

BYE

Sat. Nov 14 AWAY @ Mississippi State (W)

Sat. Nov 21 HOME vs. Tennessee (W)

Sat. Nov 28 AWAY Iron Bowl (L)

Sat. Dec 5 HOME vs. Texas A&M (W)


- It might be a transition year for the Tigers that roam the Plains. Much of the talent in 2019 has gone on to greener pastures like Derrick Brown, Jack Driscoll, Marlon Davidson, Jamal Davis, and Noah I. However, quarterback Bo Nix returns after a rocky freshman season along with his top three receivers in Eli Stove, Anthony Schwartz, and Seth Williams. The defensive front will be anchored by Big Kat Bryant but after that, who knows. Auburn wins just enough to keep the annual firestorm of Fire Gus crowd at bay. Getting Georgia at its not fully realized form in the second game might be a boon. The Iron Bowl is usually a crapshoot (unlike many other Bama games) and Gus has proven success against the mighty Nick Saban.


Predicted Record: 7-3


LSU


Sat. Sept 26 HOME vs. Mississippi State (W)

Sat. Oct 3 AWAY @ Vanderbilt (W)

Sat. Oct 10 HOME vs. Missouri (W)

Sat. Oct 17 AWAY @ Florida (L)

Sat. Oct 24 HOME vs. South Carolina (W)

Sat. Oct 31 AWAY @ Auburn (W)

BYE

Sat. Nov 14 HOME vs. Alabama (L)

Sat. Nov 21 AWAY @ Arkansas (W)

Sat. Nov 28 AWAY @ Texas A&M (L)

Sat. Dec 5 HOME vs. Ole Miss (W)


- The Bayou Bengals seemingly lost everyone including the custodians off of last year’s record-breaking national championship team. Myles Brennan has the unenviable task of stepping into Joe Burrow’s shoes as QB1. LSU lost star receiver Jamarr Chase, cornerback Kary Vincent, and DT Tyler Shelvin to the draft via COVID19 opt out this summer. Still, there’s enough talent such as cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr, EDGE Neil Farrell, receiver Terrance Marshall, Jr on the roster to lead the Tigers in a transition year. The key swing game will be the one against the Gators.


Predicted Record: 7-3


Mississippi State


Sat. Sept 26 AWAY @ LSU (L)

Sat. Oct 3 HOME vs. Arkansas (W)

Sat. Oct 10 AWAY @ Kentucky (L)

Sat. Oct 17 HOME vs. Texas A&M (L)

BYE

Sat. Oct 31 AWAY @ Alabama (L)

Sat. Nov 7 HOME vs. Vanderbilt (W)

Sat. Nov 14 HOME vs. Auburn (L)

Sat. Nov 21 AWAY @ Georgia (L)

Sat. Nov 28 AWAY Egg Bowl (W)

Sat. Dec 5 HOME vs. Missouri (W)


- There’s a new sheriff in Starkville in the form of the cantankerous and pass friendly Mike Leach along with quarterback K.J. Costello. Surprisingly star running back Kylin Hill elected to return for his senior year. Defensively, they have a lot to replace after Fabian Lovett and Jarrian Jones transferred and Willie Gay left for the NFL. However, EDGEs Kobe Jones and Marquiss Spencer, linebacker Erroll Thompson, and receiver Osirus Mitchell return. The schedule is somewhat manageable but a lot of things will have to swing the Bulldogs’ way to eke out a winning record.


Predicted Record: 4-6


Ole Miss


Sat. Sept 26 HOME vs. Florida (L)

Sat. Oct 3 AWAY @ Kentucky (L)

Sat. Oct 10 HOME vs. Alabama (L)

Sat. Oct 17 AWAY @ Arkansas (W)

Sat. Oct 24 HOME vs. Auburn (W)

Sat. Oct 31 AWAY @ Vanderbilt (W)

BYE

Sat. Nov 14 HOME vs. South Carolina (L)

Sat. Nov 21 AWAY @ Texas A&M (L)

Sat. Nov 28 HOME Egg Bowl (L)

Sat. Dec 5 AWAY @ LSU (L)


- Lane Kiffin returns to the SEC in a head coaching capacity for the first time since his “adventurous” debut in Knoxville. Ole Miss is a significantly young team with very few upperclassmen so it will be a tough road to hoe in the always dangerous SEC West. Don’t expect a lot in year 1 of Kiffin’s regime but Mississippi can surprise a few teams.


Predicted Record: 3-7


Texas A&M


Sat. Sept 26 HOME vs. Vanderbilt (W)

Sat. Oct 3 AWAY @ Alabama (L)

Sat. Oct 10 HOME vs. Florida (W)

Sat. Oct 17 AWAY @ Mississippi State (W)

BYE

Sat. Oct 31 HOME vs. Arkansas (W)

Sat. Nov 7 AWAY @ South Carolina (W)

Sat. Nov 14 AWAY @ Tennessee (W)

Sat. Nov 21 HOME vs. Ole Miss (W)

Sat. Nov 28 HOME vs. LSU (W)

Sat. Dec 5 AWAY @ Auburn (L)


- If the Aggies had any luck, they would have no luck at all. After a brutal 2019 schedule, they were set for a much softer 2020 one but the pandemic hit. On top of the terrible schedule luck, several key starters opted out in receiver Jhamon Ausbon, linebacker Anthony Hines III, and Elijah Blades. They do return a veteran offensive line, quarterback Kellen Mond with dynamic runner Isaiah Spiller and future top TE prospect Jalen Wydermyer. They have the guns to keep with the big boys but not enough firepower to put them over the top. Still, the schedule could’ve been much, much tougher. Minimum seven wins.


Predicted Record: 8-2


SEC EAST Champion: Georgia


SEC WEST Champion: Alabama


SEC Champion: Alabama


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