2018 CFB Playoff Predictions, SEC Preview, Conference Winners, And More

Finally, the 2018 college football season starts this week, and I can honestly say I have never looked forward to a football season so much. College football is my favorite sport, and one of the reasons why is that there are so many storylines and question marks every season. That is no different this year. So, I meant to write a lot more preview articles before the season, but my schedule has not allowed me to do so. Anyways, I am cramming a lot of stuff in this one preview article. Let’s start with my CFB Playoff predictions.


1. Alabama (13-0)

Ah, yes, the Tide are my No. 1 seed this year. I don’t know if the Tide will be as strong on defense as they were last year as they lost a ton of experience, but as always, Alabama will reload and shouldn’t take much of a step back. Also, the 2018 Alabama offense could be the best Saban has ever had in Tuscaloosa. (Yes, I am talking about with Tua Tagovailoa at QB because no way Jalen Hurts keeps the starting spot for long at least.) Combine that fact with a pretty easy schedule that includes Auburn at home, I see the Tide making the SEC Championship unscathed, and I got them winning a close one over UGA to be the No. 1 seed.

2. Wisconsin (12-1)

Is this the year Wisconsin finally gets over the Big 10 Championship hump? I think it is. Wisconsin is absolutely loaded this year. They return a large amount of experience, including nine guys on offense. Most notably, they return one of the best offensive lines in the country, and the sensational Jonathan Taylor is back for his sophomore season at running back. Also, the Badgers also return the veteran presence of Alex Hornibrook at quarterback.

Wisconsin’s schedule is tricky for once and includes trips to Michigan and Penn State. I think the Badgers split those two games and defeat whoever comes out of the crowded Big 10 East in Indianapolis in December.

3. Clemson (12-1)

Clemson will somehow find a way to lose a game they shouldn’t this year. It seems like a theme from Dabo Swinney for most years. Other than that, Clemson will again dominate the ACC and get back to the playoff again for a potential fourth consecutive matchup with Alabama.

If  the Tigers want to make any noise in the playoffs though, they better start freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence over incumbent starting quarterback Kelly Bryant at some point. The rest of the team is scary good, especially that insane defensive line.

4. Oklahoma (12-1)

Yes, Oklahoma lost a Heisman winner at QB to the NFL in Baker Mayfield. However, I think former Texas A&M transfer Kyler Murray will step up to the plate, and the Oklahoma offense with Rodney Anderson at running back and Marquis Brown and CeeDee Lamb at receiver won’t miss a beat. However, the Big 12 is finally improving, so I see the Sooners collecting a loss along the way. Let’s say they lose to Texas in the regular season then beat them in a rematch in the Big 12 Title game.

Two Teams on the Cusp: Georgia and Ohio State/Michigan

National Champion: Clemson but only if Trevor Lawrence is starting QB.


Yes, it’s no secret I am a big SEC guy, so of course I had to give my take on how the conference will play out in 2018.


  1. Alabama (12-0)
  2. Auburn (10-2)
  3. Mississippi State (9-3)
  4. Texas A&M (8-4)
  5. Ole Miss (7-5)
  6. LSU (5-7)
  7. Arkansas (5-7)


  1. Georgia (8-0, 12-0)
  2. South Carolina (6-2, 9-3)
  3. Missouri (5-3, 8-4)
  4. Florida (4-4, 7-5)
  5. Kentucky (1-7, 5-7)
  6. Vanderbilt (1-7, 4-8)
  7. Tennessee (1-7, 4-8)

Here are my SEC Game-by-Game Picks:


Yes, I picked Alabama over UGA in the SEC Championship game. Even though I have the Tide winning, it’s really a toss-up to me. I think UGA and Bama are both capable of reaching the CFB Playoff this year, and if my prediction of both of those teams going undefeated in the regular season holds true and enough chaos happens in the rest of college football, I could see both teams making the playoff again. (Yes, a UGA-Alabama rematch in the playoff would be unreal.)

However, I obviously had to pick someone, so I went with everyone’s favorite Alabama. On a side note, there is no doubt we’re going to see these two juggernaut teams battle it out for years to come. I truly believe Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are the two best coaches in college football. Yep, you heard me. I’d take Smart over Swinney or Meyer.

Alabama and UGA are clearly head and shoulders above anyone else in the SEC. (Auburn may creep into the picture down the road if they ever get rid of the choke job they call a head coach in Gus Malzahn, and LSU likewise with Ed Orgeron.)

Alabama, Georgia and Clemson are in the best situations of any programs in college football, and they’ll be in the playoff or in serious contention for years to come. (Note: I would have added Ohio State to this, but this whole Urban Meyer situation clouds things up. Yes, he’s gotten his slap on the wrist, but let’s be real. It is not over.)

Conference Winners

Big Ten: Wisconsin

Big Twelve: Oklahoma

Pac 12: Washington

ACC: Clemson

SEC: Alabama

American: UCF

Conference USA: Florida Atlantic

MAC: Ohio

Mountain West: Boise State

Sun Belt: Arkansas State


Like I said I apologize for the brevity of this article as it is definitely more of a bird’s-eye view of things. College football will be amazing as always, and I, for one, cannot wait for the official start of the season on Thursday. Before I go, here are my final predictions and thoughts for you guys. Bryce Love wins the Heisman. Texas is the bounce-back team of the year, and the Longhorns’ Tom Herman is probably coach of the year as well.

New hires Scott Frost and Dan Mullen struggle in their first year as head coach at Nebraska and Florida respectively. Things in Baton Rouge, L.a., are a complete disaster, and LSU fires Orgeron over the offseason and hires Lane Kiffin.

As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydogg and follow the new site’s twitter: @fallenpylons


*Featured Image via @iam__mw3o on Twitter


THE Game: Alabama-Georgia National Championship Preview

What a great New Year’s Day of college football earlier this week. It was outstanding. From some very entertaining bowl games to the two semifinal games later that day, it made for very good television.

The game of the day was without a doubt the first CFB Playoff semifinal game between Georgia and Oklahoma at the Rose Bowl. In my opinion, it was the best game I have ever watched in my short lifetime. The Bulldogs defeated the Baker Mayfield-led Oklahoma Sooners 54-48 in double overtime.

The Sugar Bowl balanced the excitement of the semis as Alabama simply dominated the Clemson Tigers. It was not even close. The Tide looked like their old selves. With the two victories, the stage is set for an all-SEC CFB Playoff National Championship in Atlanta this coming Monday.

Despite the childish whining by fans not in the South and some prominent members in the media, the best two teams are in the national championship period. (Don’t even start with the UCF argument. They would not stand a chance with any of the playoff teams.) It is going to be an interesting game with a bunch of storylines. Let’s get right into it.

National Championship Game: Alabama vs. Georgia

As I have said, this game has no shortage of storylines. Many people have waited in anticipation of seeing the latest coaching battle between the teacher (Nick Saban of Alabama) and the apprentice (Kirby Smart of UGA). The nation will finally get to see this. Saban is 11-0 against former assistants who have become head coaches, but this might be a different animal with Smart.

Saban and Smart have both had similar paths at Georgia and Alabama. Both coaches had disappointing seasons in their first year at the helm at their respective schools (7-6 for Saban and 8-5 for Smart). Both coaches bounced back with very successful seasons in their respective second years. Saban’s team went undefeated in the regular season before dropping their last two games to Florida in the SEC Championship and Utah in the Sugar Bowl.

Smart’s second year has been extremely successful so far. The Bulldogs went 11-1 in the regular season and then went on to avenge their embarrassing road loss to Auburn in November by beating the Tigers 28-7 in a rematch in the SEC Championship. With UGA’s latest victory in the Rose Bowl, Smart has gone further than Saban in his second year by reaching the national championship game against his former boss.

Smart and Saban seem to also be very similar as coaches. Saban is known to be very detail oriented, a next-level recruiter and an outstanding developer of talent. Smart seems to be in the same mold.

Alabama and Georgia are also very similar teams from the detail-oriented system that both coaches employ to their similar styles of stifling defenses and powerful running games and more. Smart came into Athens trying to make the Bulldogs the Alabama of the SEC East, and it seems like he has been pretty successful at doing it so far.

If there is any team in the SEC that can challenge Alabama consistently, it is Georgia. The nation will likely see this matchup in the SEC Championship for many years to come. Everyone knew that Smart and Saban would be destined to clash many times, but no one thought the first meeting would be in the national championship.

The game, itself, will feature the two most powerful teams in the country. Alabama is the early favorite in the game according to Vegas. They looked like the soundest of the two teams in the semis, particularly on defense. However, to ignore that UGA had to play the best offense in college football in Oklahoma in their game would be short-sighted.

This game will not be even close to UGA’s first game of the playoff. Expect a tight yet equally thrilling game this time around. Alabama will be led by their powerful defense that is led by an intimidating defensive line headlined by Da’Ron Payne (who had an interception and a touchdown catch in the semifinal against Clemson) and Raekwon Davis, Rashaan Evans at linebacker and Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary among many others.

The Tide defense as a whole is ranked No. 3 overall in the country. More importantly, Alabama has the No. 1 rushing defense (measured in average rushing yards a game) in the nation. They only give up an average of 2.43 yards per attempt. That will prove extremely important in this game, as they will face the best rushing attack they have seen all year. (That will come up later.)

On the offensive side of the ball, the Crimson Tide football team is led by a strong running game led by Damien Harris (983 yards) and Bo Scarbrough (573 yards) behind a stout offensive line. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is the second leading rusher on the team with 808 yards but has also passed for 2,060 yards and accounted for 25 touchdowns both through the air and on the ground.

The more interesting and impressive stat was that he only threw one interception all year. Say what you want about Hurt’s ability passing from the pocket, but the guy is quite the weapon.

Fortunately, Hurts has not had to win a game himself. The Tide have won behind their strong defense and running game. That might change in this game. This Georgia defense is not to be taken lightly.

The linebacking corps leads the Junkyard Dawg defense and is headlined by Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy on the outside. The defensive line is also one of the best in the country and is anchored by the 6-4, 309 pound Trent Thompson, who is the best of the many big, physical and athletic linemen the Bulldogs boast.

The “weak link” on the Dawgs’ defense is the secondary which has shown vulnerability at times this season. However, UGA still boasts the least passing yards per game allowed by any defense in college football.

Overall, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker’s stop unit comes in at No. 7 in total defense in college football. (The Bulldogs aren’t nearly as good stopping the run, although the metrics are skewed by their lone regular season loss to Auburn and by the fact that they played several run-oriented teams.)

The biggest storyline on the offensive side of the ball is easily the emergence of true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. Fromm has not been asked to do a whole lot mainly by design in the Bulldogs’ run-first offense and because of his lack of experience. However, the youngster from Warner Robbins, Ga., has done an admirable job this season after he took over the job from the incumbent starter Jacob Eason after he was injured in their first game against Appalachian State.

Fromm has managed the offense well, been a great leader and made the throws he had too particularly in important situations. He has shown the poise and clutch factor that coaches want to see from their quarterback.

In my opinion, he has played his best football in the final three games of the season as he went 12-of-16 for 224 yards and two touchdowns with a 75.0 completion percentage in UGA’s regular season finale against Georgia Tech. He then threw for 183 yards on 16-for-22 passing and two scores with a 72.7 completion percentage in the SEC Championship against Auburn.

In the Rose Bowl, Fromm put together his best performance (again in my opinion) and helped the UGA offense keep pace with the high-scoring Oklahoma Sooners. He was on point in the game as he completed 20 of his 29 total passes (69 percent) for 210 yards and two touchdowns.

Fromm’s job is made easier by a rushing attack led by the best rushing duo in college football history  in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb has rushed for 1,320 yards this year, and Michel added 1,129 yards (average of eight yards gained per carry). The two star running backs have also combined for 31 touchdowns on the ground. True freshman D’Andre Swift has also proved to be a weapon as he has rushed for 603 yards and is also fourth on the team in receiving yards. (Some even think Swift could be a Heisman candidate next year as well.)

Both squads have very good weapons at receiver including guys like Calvin Ridley and Jerry Jeudy of Alabama and Javon Wims and Terry Godwin of UGA. (I am not even mentioning the capable tight ends.) Both teams are pretty even as a whole.

However, on special teams, Georgia should get the overall nod. The only thing separating these teams is probably at kicker – an area that Alabama has struggled with all year. Andy Pappanastos of Alabama has looked very shaky at times this season, but Rodrigo Blankenship of UGA has been excellent this year and currently holds the longest field goal in the history of the Rose Bowl (55).

To sum it all up, Alabama-Georgia should make for one outstanding championship game. This game has all the storylines one could ask for: the Evil Scientist (or coach in this instance) versus his capable understudy, two outstanding defenses versus two excellent rushing attacks, two teams from the same conference facing off for the national title for the first time in the playoff era and more.

I am not going to pick this game. I have learned that I cannot pick bowl games. (Thank God, I don’t bet.) I will say I could see either of these teams winning. I see both teams matching up pretty fairly even in the trenches. If one team proves they can get the upper hand on the line of scrimmage, the game is over. However, I think this matchup will ultimately come down to the performance of the two quarterbacks and who will make a play. (Turnovers and special teams’ play are always a factor as well.) It is pretty simple in my opinion.

Either way, it should be a very exciting game, and I couldn’t be more excited to see a champion be crowned on Monday night in the metropolitan capital of college football – Atlanta.

*Featured Image via @BigPooh_91 on Twitter

Week 5 SEC Power Rankings, CFB Playoff Picks, SEC Weekend Picks

The College football regular season is already almost a third of the way done, which is crazy to think about. Over the first four weeks of college football, we have learned a whole lot, but there still are so many questions left to be answered. Let us take a quick look at my weekly SEC power rankings, my CFB Playoff top four and two teams right behind them and my SEC weekend picks.

SEC Power Rankings

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0)

The Tide are on top once again and for good reason. They went into Nashville last weekend and came out with one of the most physically dominant conference wins of the Nick Saban era. Heck, they held Vanderbilt to 67 total offensive yards and zero points and put up 677 yards and 59 points on the Commodore defense. Alabama is loaded at pretty much every position (except kicker). No one in the SEC will be able to beat them this year. In all honesty, it will be a surprise if they do not beat every team by multiple touchdowns. They are that good.

2. Georgia Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0)

Man, Georgia really looks impressive. I will be the first to say that I picked Mississippi State to come into Athens and upset the Bulldogs on Saturday night. I just did not fully know what to make of this UGA team. How I was wrong. Georgia absolutely dominated the other Bulldogs. It was apparent from the opening whistle.

The defense led by ultra-talented inside linebacker Roquan Smith and outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter and others is one of the best in the entire country. The offense is not too shabby either led by a tough running game. This is the best Georgia team I have seen since probably 2012.  I would not be surprised if the Bulldogs run the table the rest of the way in the regular season. They are that good. They should win every game left on their slate, but will they?

3. Auburn Tigers (3-1, 1-0)

I am not really high on Auburn, but the conference looks so weak at this point that I have to put them at No. 3. It is honestly head-scratching that the league has looked pretty mediocre outside of Georgia and Alabama. (I believe it goes back to coaching as I have reiterated a lot.)

Even though Auburn has not looked great on the offensive side of the ball at times, their defense has played well, and the Tigers had a nice 51-14 win over Missouri. (Yes, I know it is Missouri, but Auburn putting up 51 points against anyone is something they will take.) The Tigers have the talent to still be a force this season. They will face a big test this weekend when they host Mississippi State on the Plains. That will go a long way in determining the landscape of the West.

4. Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1)

MSU got exposed against a very good Georgia team on Saturday night. They are not going to seriously challenge Alabama this year, but they can still have a very good season. Nick Fitzgerald will have success against a lot of the teams he plays this season. How will he handle the challenge of going into another hostile environment in Auburn, Ala., this Saturday? That will tell a lot.

5. LSU Tigers (3-1, 0-1)

LSU have had an up-and-down season so far. That is for sure. After a dominate early wins over BYU in Week 1 and Chattanooga in Week 2, the Tigers got boat raced 37-7 in Starkville against MSU and then struggled at home against Syracuse last week. The injury-plagued squad should have another easy outing against Troy this Saturday before traveling to Florida next Saturday in a game which will tell a lot about the two teams. Hopefully, Derrius Guice (whose status is up in the air for this weekend) will be fully healthy for that one. LSU is so much more enjoyable to watch when he is out there.

6. Texas A&M Aggies (3-1, 1-0)

Big overtime win over Arkansas last weekend was nice, but Kevin Sumlin’s firing is still only a matter of time.

7. Florida Gators (2-1, 2-0)

The Gators were lucky to get out of Lexington with a win last week. They are not near where they were last season, but they should still probably contend in a crappy East.

8. Kentucky Wildcats (3-1, 1-1)

They are never going to beat Florida. It is written in stone.

9. Tennessee Volunteers (3-1, 0-0)

Butch has to go. How do you barely beat UMass?

10. Vanderbilt Commodores (3-1, 0-1)

Never talk trash about Alabama. We all see the result (59-0).

11. Arkansas Razorbacks (1-2, 0-1)

Ol’ Bert should be gone. No excuse. Enjoy another mediocre season, Arkansas fans.

12. South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1)

The Gamecocks survived against La. Tech at home. Congrats.

13. Ole Miss Rebels (2-1, 0-0)

NCAA probs and Bryant-Denny this Saturday has such a good ring to it. Doesn’t it?

14. Missouri Tigers (1-3, 0-2)

Absolutely pathetic. Yep, that is all I got.

CFB Playoff Rankings

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide
  2. Oklahoma Sooners
  3. Clemson Tigers
  4. Penn State Nittany Lions

Two teams looking in: USC and Michigan

Week 5 SEC Picks

Florida over Vanderbilt

Arkansas over New Mexico State

Georgia over Tennessee

Kentucky over Eastern Michigan

Auburn over Mississippi State

LSU over Troy

Texas A&M over South Carolina

Alabama over Ole Miss


That’s all I got right now, folks. Follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydogg

SEC Power Rankings, SEC Coaching Woes, CFB Playoff Top Four

After dealing with some personal stuff, I am back doing what I love best – writing about college football. We have already enjoyed three weeks of it, and we have learned a lot but still have a lot of unknowns.

My focus (as has been the case for a while) is on the Southeastern Conference. With that in mind, I am going to give you my power rankings for all the SEC teams as it stands now, talk about the conference’s coaching woes and give you my CFB playoff top four plus two teams looking in. Enjoy!

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0, 0-0)

No. 1 was not hard to choose at all. Nick Saban and Co. are the class of the conference yet again, and there is not even a close second. No, the Tide have not yet played a conference game as of yet, but beating Florida State (in dominating fashion) is the best victory any SEC team can boast about.

They will open up against an undefeated (not a typo) Vanderbilt team in Nashville this weekend to open SEC play for both teams. Alabama will  not have a problem in this game.

2. Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0)

My goodness, have Mississippi State looked impressive or what? They might be the second-best team in the conference if they keep playing like they are now. Dan Mullen and his coaching staff have coached this team up, and they are playing unbelievably well.

While a lot of teams in the conference have struggled moving the football on offense, the Bulldogs certainly have not had that problem, as they put up 49 and 57 points (respectively) in the first two weeks of the season and beat LSU 37-7 in an upset heard ’round the college football world last weekend.

It definitely helps to have one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country in Nick Fitzgerald under center. He has established himself as an early Heisman contender in my opinion.

The defense is also solid, and Aeris Williams is the second-best running back in terms of rushing yards in the conference this year. Mississippi State has a tough challenge at Georgia this weekend, but regardless of that result, they still looked poised (as things stand now) to be the primary challenger to the Crimson Tide in the West.

3. Georgia Bulldogs (3-0, 0-0)

I am still not completely sold on this UGA team. Yes, they are 3-0 and should win the East this season, but I am not really sure how good second-year head coach Kirby Smart’s squad actually is. We will all know a lot more about this team Saturday night when they host the aforementioned Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Georgia’s offense has struggled to move the ball at times due in large part to a (still) suspect offensive line and having to start a true freshman quarterback in Jake Fromm over the injured Jacob Eason. (Eason has technically not been ruled out for this weekend, but it would be a long shot for him to come back.) Georgia’s defense is really good this season. That much is clear. Will they be able to stop Fitzgerald on Saturday? They better.

Georgia has the unenviable task of trying to stop Nick Fitzgerald on Saturday night. Will they be able to do it? Guys like Lorenzo Carter better go off if they are to have a chance.

4. LSU Tigers (2-1, 0-1)

I know the Tigers are reeling from their blowout loss at the hands of Mississippi State last Saturday, but I really believe LSU will get things turned around. Are they that good of a team? I do not think so, but most of the other teams in the conference and particularly the West are in fact worse. The Tigers still have a lot of talent (particularly on defense and a guy named Derrius Guice) and should be able to take care of most teams on their schedule.

5. Kentucky Wildcats (3-0, 1-0)

It was hard to choose between Kentucky and Vanderbilt for this spot, but I am giving the Wildcats the edge here since they have an SEC win. Kentucky did not look extremely impressive against inferior competition in the first two weeks of the season but had a huge performance on Saturday as they travelled to Columbia, S.C. and beat Jake Bentley and the South Carolina Gamecocks for the fourth-straight season.

I will be the first one to tell you I did not see this coming. I will admit I thought the Wildcats would finish as the worst team in the East, but I was wrong. There is still a long season left, but Kentucky has a lot of momentum at this point in time. They have a huge opportunity this Saturday as they host a Florida team that is the worst it has been in a while in my opinion. Will the 30-year losing streak be broken? We will see.

6. Vanderbilt Commodores (3-0, 0-0)

7. South Carolina Gamecocks (2-1, 1-1)

8. Auburn Tigers (2-1, 0-0)

9. Florida Gators (1-1, 0-1)

10. Tennessee Volunteers (2-1, 0-1)

11. Texas A&M Aggies (2-1, 0-0)

12. Ole Miss Rebels (2-1, 0-0)

13. Arkansas Razorbacks (1-1, 0-0)

14. Missouri Tigers (1-2, 1-1)

Now, let us get into our second topic. The SEC looks horrible so far this season. No, it is not due to a lack of talent. SEC teams do well in recruiting. The coaching is terrible particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

I have said that before, and it has proven true yet again this year. Which fanbases (majority) besides Alabama, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and possibly Georgia are feeling very confident in their coach right now? Zero. Kevin Sumlin and Butch Jones deserved to be fired before this season is over. Bret Beleima should not even still be at Arkansas right now. There is no doubt. Jim McElwain and Gus Malzahn are not making things any easier on themselves either.

(Speaking of Butch Jones, I had to include the ending to the Volunteers’ game this past Saturday that included this incredible finish. Tennessee should have easily won that game if their head coach had any competence whatsoever.)

Honestly, half of the SEC teams or more need to just call it quits and get new head coaches. It is that simple. Until, the quality of coaching in the SEC improves, the conference will continue on a downhill trajectory.

Anyway, before I go, here are my college football playoff top four teams with two teams on the cusp.

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Penn State

Next Two: USC and Oklahoma State

That is all folks. Come back later this week for my SEC and college football predictions for this Saturday.

2017 SEC Football Predictions

We have finally arrived upon the first weekend of college football, and I for one could not be more excited. My focus is always on the Southeastern Conference. It is very hard to predict this year outside of Alabama, but I will give my best shot.


1. Alabama Crimson Tide 

Projected Record: 13-0 (8-0), SEC Champion

Impact Players: QB Jalen Hurts, RB Bo Scarborough, DB Minkah Fitzpatrick

Alabama lost a lot of talent to the NFL this year particularly on defense, but the Tide return one of the most talented offenses in the country led by sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts. For all the criticism of Hurts in the offseason, he did win SEC Offensive Player of  the Year last year as a freshman.

If Hurts improves as a passer, Alabama will be that much more deadly. His job will be made easier by the return of a talented receiving corps led by Calvin Ridley and a star-studded running back group led by Bo Scarborough.

The defense lost a lot of talent in the offseason but should be just fine as Minkah Fitzpatrick, Rashaan Evans and Da’Ron Payne look to pick up the slack on this stop unit. Saban’s team again runs the table, wins the SEC Championship and gets to the playoff again this year.

2. Auburn Tigers

Projected Record: 10-2 (6-2)

Impact Players: QB Jarrett Stidham, RB Kamryn Pettway, DB Tray Matthews

The Auburn Tigers are poised to have a very good season as Jarrett Stidham seems like he will be the missing piece at quarterback to get head coach Gus Malzahn’s offense going on all cylinders. Auburn has enough talent (including the SEC’s leading rusher from 2016 in Kamyrn Pettway, a deep receiving corps and a solid defense) around Stidham to seriously contend for the West this year. They will stumble late yet again against rivals Georgia and Alabama to come up just short of going to Atlanta.

3. LSU Tigers

Projected Record: 9-3 (5-3)

Impact Players: RB Derrius Guice, LB Arden Key, DE Christian LaCouture

Ed Orgeron is embarking on his first season as the permanent head coach of LSU and hired Matt Canada as offensive coordinator in the offseason to help shore up that side of the football. Canada will have at his disposal an offense led by superstar running back Derrius Guice, who has a chance to contend for the Heisman this season in my mind, but other than that has a lot of question marks. The biggest question mark is how will senior quarterback Danny Etling fair? Will he continue to be just okay or will he take a step forward in the new offense?

LSU will be good in 2017, but mediocre quarterback play and a rebuilding (yet still talented) defense will keep them from being great this year. Watch out for them in the future though.

4. Texas A&M Aggies

Projected Record: 8-4 (4-4)

Impact Players: WR Christian Kirk, RB Trayveon Williams, DB Armani Watts

Head coach Kevin Sumlin has to do well this season, or he will be gone. That is all there is to it. The Aggies always seem to do incredible in the first half of the season but stumble down the stretch. This year will tell a similar tale despite having star power in running back Trayveon Williams, dynamic wide receiver Christian Kirk and others. Will 8-4 be enough to calm down the athletic department and make them keep Sumlin? Doubt it. Texas A&M (by today’s standards) can do better.

LSU star running back Derrius Guice is poised for a huge season in Baton Rouge in 2017. (Image via @DhaSickest on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DhaSickest/status/888516662923849728)

5. Arkansas Razorbacks

Projected Record: 7-5 (3-5)

Players to Watch: QB Austin Allen, RB Devwah Whaley, C Frank Ragnow

Bret Bielema was the talk of college football when Arkansas hired him away from Wisconsin in 2013. However, Bielema has not lived up to the hype at Arkansas, as he has gone 25-26 overall in Fayetteville and has yet to put together a complete team. The Razorbacks had a disappointing 2016 that ended with a loss to Missouri and a bowl game loss to Virginia Tech, despite being up by 24 points.

Safe to say, there is some grumbling about Bielema. That will not change this year, but hey, at least the offense, led by Austin Allen, will score some points.

6. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Projected Record: 7-5 (3-5)

Players to Watch: QB Nick Fitzgerald, WR Donald Gray, LB Leo Lewis

Nick Fitzgerald is one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. Unfortunately, the guys around him (overall) are just not talented enough for State to contend in the West. Combine that with a tough schedule that includes an East crossover game against Georgia in Athens, and Mississippi State’s record will not show how good they are. They will still sneak up on some teams though.

7. Ole Miss Rebels

Projected Record: 5-7 (1-7)

Impact Players: QB Shea Patterson, WR Van Jefferson, DE Marquis Haynes

It is safe to say Ole Miss has had a tough offseason. Things are not going to get any better anytime soon with their fall NCAA hearing looming. Hugh Freeze is obviously gone too, and Matt Luke will head coach his first game as an interim. This Ole Miss team just does not have enough talent (outside of Shea Patterson and a good receiving corps) to improve on their 5-7 record from 2016.



1. Florida Gators

Projected Record: 9-3 (6-2)

Impact Players: WR Antonio Callaway, RB Jordan Scarlett, DB Duke Dawson

Choosing the winner of the East this year was very difficult. I got Florida winning the division based on the fact that you know what you are going to get with the Gators.

Georgia is the popular pick to win the East, but they have a lot of question marks. (Rule of thumb: Never pick Georgia to win the East until they do it, and never pick Alabama to not win the West until it happens.) The East will come down to the annual meeting in Jacksonville, and the Gators will come out on top for the fourth straight time.

Jim McElwain has done a good job in his two seasons in Gainesville, but his teams have struggled on offense, which is supposed to be his forte. The Gators lost a lot on defense, but they still have a lot of young talent and will not take a major step back.

The offensive line is solid and the receiving corp is underrated led by Antonio Callaway (if he stays out of trouble after his one-game suspension). If McElwain can get solid quarterback play this season (Cc: Feleipe Franks), the Gators are going to be really good.

Florida will win the SEC East for a 3rd-straight year. (Image via @NickWashingtonn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickWashingtonn/status/777563432107307008)

2. Georgia Bulldogs

Predicted Record: 10-2 (6-2)

Impact Players: QB Jacob Eason, RB Nick Chubb, DT Trent Thompson

Georgia is the most talented team on paper in the East, but will they take that next step and win it? Not this year. The Bulldogs have some serious questions surrounding the offensive line, a talented defense that has a history of underperforming, a shaky kicking game and more.

However, if the Bulldogs answer some of those questions (mainly at offensive line) they could have a fine season. They definitely have the most upside of any team in the East.

Their offense is looking for some serious improvement as they return Jacob Eason at quarterback and a stacked running back corps led by Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The defense has the potential to be one of the best in the conference. Will it happen though?

Smart has been killing it on the recruiting trail even if his team did not fare well on the field in 2016. The Bulldogs will have a bounce back year this season and come just short of winning the East. Look out for this team in 2018. They could potentially reach the playoff.

3. South Carolina Gamecocks

Projected Record: 7-5 (4-4)

Impact Players: QB Jake Bentley, LB Skai Moore, WR Deebo Samuel

This season will be pretty much the opposite of Will Muschamp teams so far. The South Carolina offense should be fun to watch and score a lot of points this year, but their defense will be the weak link. The Gamecocks just do not have enough talent on that side of the ball.

That is why I see South Carolina having an up-and-down year. Watch out for this team in the future when Muschamp gets his players though.

4. Tennessee Volunteers

Projected Record: 7-5 (3-5)

Impact Players: WR Jauan Jennings, TE Ethan Wolf, DB Todd Kelly Jr.

Tennessee should have won the East last season, but they somehow did not (even though they beat both Florida and Georgia) go to Atlanta due in part to injuries and mainly to bad coaching. (I have been clear on my thoughts that Butch Jones being a coaching disaster in the past.)

The Volunteers lost a lot of talent in the offseason, and it appears their window to win the East has closed for a while. That will certainly be the case this season.

5. Vanderbilt Commodores

Projected Record: 6-6 (3-5)

Impact Players: RB Ralph Webb, DB LaDarius Wiley, LB Oren Burks

Derek Mason has quietly done a solid job in Nashville. The Commodores returned to a bowl game last year for the first time since 2013. Star running back Ralph Webb and several other key players return and give Vanderbilt confidence that they are bound for a big year.

However, their overall record will not really convey how good this team is as their schedule is very difficult. They will make the postseason once again in 2017 though.

6. Missouri Tigers

Projected Record: 6-6 (2-6)

Impact Players: QB Drew Lock, WR J’Mon Moore, RB Damarea Crockett

I am higher than a lot of people on Missouri this year. They were better than there 4-8 record showed last year. The offense, led by junior quarterback Drew Lock, star wideout J’Mon Moore, who led the conference in receiving yards per game last year and sophomore running back Damarea Crockett, who is the most underrated back in the SEC  in my mind, etc,  is extremely talented and will score a bunch of points this season.

Can the defense stop anyone in 2017? That is the question 2nd-year head coach Barry Odom will have to answer after his defense struggled mightily in 2016. Ultimately, I see Missouri getting through a tough schedule and getting to a bowl game.

7. Kentucky Wildcats

Projected Record: 5-7 (1-7)

Impact Players: QB Stephen Johnson, LB Jordan Jones, RB Benny Snell Jr.

Safe to say, I am not as high as a lot of people on Kentucky this year. While they have a pretty good team this year, I believe they will regress this season. The difference between not getting to the postseason and getting to a bowl is their season finale against Lamar Jackson and Louisville. Louisville is not going to lose this year.

SEC weekend takeaways, bowl scenarios

It is officially the last week of the college football regular season in SEC country. While it is sad that the season is almost over, Rivalry Week offers some outstanding matchups to look forward to as well as Thanksgiving this Thursday. I’ll preview the big upcoming slate of games in the SEC later in the week, but in this article, we’re going to look at this past weekend and look at the conference’s bowl scenarios.

We start with the weekend that was in the SEC. The biggest storyline from this past Saturday was the clinching of the SEC East by Florida thanks to a goal line stand at No. 25 LSU. Check out the video of the final play below:

With the surprising win over LSU, Jim McElwain’s team gets the reward of going to Atlanta to face Alabama. Have fun. The Gators should be blown out. Frankly, I don’t think Alabama will lose all year. We might as well crown them national champs in my opinion.

Anyway, the rest of the games in the SEC weren’t very surprising as far as results go except for the shocking 38-17 win by Vanderbilt over freshman quarterback phenom Shea Patterson and Ole Miss. Congrats to Derek Mason by the way. If the Commodores find a way to beat Tennessee this coming Saturday, they will go to the postseason for the first time since 2013 and the first time under Mason.

Speaking of getting to a bowl game, that’s the perfect segway to Fallen Pylon’s SEC Bowl Projections.

CFB Playoff – Alabama

Sugar Bowl – Oklahoma vs. Auburn

Independence Bowl – Wake Forest vs. Vanderbilt

Texas Bowl – TCU vs. Texas A&M

Birmingham Bowl – Houston vs. South Carolina

Belk Bowl – Virginia Tech vs. Georgia

Liberty Bowl – Baylor vs. Ole Miss

Music City Bowl -Iowa vs. Arkansas

Citrus Bowl – North Carolina vs. Tennessee

TaxSlayer Bowl – Miami vs. LSU

Outback Bowl – Wisconsin vs. Florida

Kentucky goes somewhere on the bowl slate. I’ll leave it to the higher-ups to figure it out. Be sure to come back to Fallen Pylons for our Rivalry Week Special. That’s all folks.

Friday Column: Georgia’s bowl chances, Bama-LSU and SEC picks

Thank God It’s Friday could not ring more true today. On the verge of another weekend, I look at the top storylines from the upcoming slate of games on Saturday. In this article, I look at Georgia’s bowl chances and how they have to win this Saturday, preview the big one – Alabama vs. LSU and give my Week 10 SEC picks. Let’s get started.

Georgia’s Bowl Chances

Georgia has definitely struggled this year under first-year head coach Kirby Smart. They are currently 4-4 and have yet to find any identity and are very inconsistent. Though they have struggles across the board, this could all be somewhat hidden by at least a decent offensive line. That is something the Bulldogs simply do not have. It is one of the poorest units I have seen in Athens, but that’s another topic for another day.

After suffering a double-digit loss (24-10) at the hands of bitter rival Florida last week, Georgia travels to Lexington, Ky., to take on a Kentucky Wildcats team that is FINALLY going to be bowl eligible this year under Mark Stoops (unless they somehow lose to Austin Peay).

Lexington in November is never an easy place to play, particularly considering the way Georgia is playing right now. Georgia’s remaining schedule this year is very tough (at least for this team). Next week is Auburn; that’s a loss. Then, they play Louisiana-Lafayette at home before hosting in-state rival Georgia Tech. Georgia could easily go 1-2 in those games, so a win over Kentucky this weekend is critical to the Dawgs reaching a bowl game.

This is a dangerous team led by quarterback Stephen Johnson, who has thrown for over 200 yards the past two weeks, and running back Boom Williams, who is currently 3rd in the SEC in rushing with 821 yards and three touchdowns. Kentucky has produced more yards per game this year than the Dawgs, but Georgia has the better defense statistically.

If Smart and co. do not beat Kentucky this Saturday night, I do not believe Georgia will reach the postseason. That would make the season even more of a failure (obviously) to Bulldog fans.


The big one is here. No. 1 Alabama (8-0) travels to Baton Rouge this Saturday night to take on the No. 13 LSU Tigers (5-2) fresh off a bye week for both teams.

This matchup lost its luster early in the season when LSU was struggling. Since then, LSU fired Les Miles as head coach, and it has paid dividends so far. Fast forward to today, and LSU has a lot of momentum, under the reign of interim head coach Ed Orgeron. They have finally opened up their offense and are thriving. Danny Etling has stepped up at quarterback and is effectively using his multiple weapons on offense.

Combine that with a healthy Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 284 yards and three scores in the Tigers’ last game against Ole Miss and a solid defense, and LSU is a very dangerous team.

The best team to handle LSU, though, is Alabama. They have so much talent on offense. They have a deep wide receiver corps, a stellar rushing duo in Damian Harris and Bo Scarbrough, arguably the best tight end in the conference (outside of Ole Miss’ Evan Engram) in O.J. Howard, a top-five defense in the nation and an excellent (overall) special teams unit.

Add to that mix a true-freshman sensation in dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts (who I believe is good enough to win a Heisman at some juncture in his career), and it is just unfair.

Frankly, I do not see anyone beating Alabama this year, at least in the SEC. LSU should offer them a good test, though, on Saturday night in primetime. These are arguably two of the most talented teams in the country. It’s going to be a fun one.

SEC Picks

Georgia Southern (4-4) vs. Ole Miss (3-5)     12 p.m., ESPNU

Winner: Ole Miss

No. 4 Texas A&M (7-1) vs. Mississippi State (3-5)     12 p.m., SEC Network

Winner: Texas A&M

Vanderbilt (4-4) vs. No. 9 Auburn (6-2)     12 p.m., ESPN

Winner: Auburn

No. 11 Florida (6-1) vs. Arkansas (5-3)     3:30 p.m., CBS

Winner: Arkansas

Missouri (2-6) vs. South Carolina (4-4)     4 p.m. SEC Network

Winner: South Carolina

Tennessee Tech (3-5) vs. Tennessee (5-3)     4 p.m.

Winner: Tennessee

Georgia (4-4) vs. Kentucky (5-3)     7:30 p.m. SEC Network

Winner: Georgia

No. 1 Alabama (8-0) vs. No. 13 LSU (5-2)     8 p.m. CBS

Winner: Alabama

*Note: All times Eastern Standard Time


That’s all guys. Make sure to follow Fallen Pylons on Twitter to keep up with the goings-on this Saturday and every Saturday during football season. Have a great weekend!