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

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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.

WEST

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.

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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.

 

EAST

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.

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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.