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RBR's Predictions for the 2016 SEC Football Season

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The staff at RBR makes their picks for the 2016 SEC Football Season

Who will win the West?
Who will win the West?
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

This week at SEC Media Days, the media will predict the final SEC standings. You may recall last year they picked Auburn to win the West but Alabama to win the SEC. Huh?

Clearly, RBR's opinion is just as valid as that of the sports guy at the Pigs Knuckle Arkansas Daily Gazette. So here goes:

ERIK:

West:

T-1 Alabama
T-1 LSU (wins tie breaker/West)
T-1 Ole Miss
4 - A&M
5 - Arkansas
T-7 - Auburn
T-7 - Miss. State

East:

1 - Tennessee
2 - Florida
T-3 - UGA
T-3 - Missouri
T-5 Kentucky
T-5 South Carolina
7 - Vanderbilt
Brent:
West:

LSU
Alabama
Ole Miss
Texas AM
Miss State
Auburn
Arkansas

East:

Tennessee
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Vandy
Missouri
South Carolina

West

I'm gonna catch all kinds of hate from you guys for this, but the O-line/QB/RB combination of NO experience scares me. I don't necessarily buy the LSU hype this year, but I don't buy Alabama's either.  This offense has the potential to be absolutely anemic, while the defensive line had little depth.

East

In the east, I think it all depends on Luke Del Rio. If he turns out to be the real deal for the Gators, then I think Florida takes the top spot. If not, it's Tennessee's to lose. No one else in the east should be much of a challenge.

ole whistlebritches:


East:

1. Florida
2. Tennessee
3. Georgia
4. Vanderbilt
5. Kentucky
6. South Carolina
7. Missouri

West:

1. Alabama
2. LSU
3. Ole Miss
4. Texas A&M
5. Arkansas
6. Mississippi State
7. Auburn

East

This is a tough one to pick, if I’m being honest. My first choice if you’d have asked me three months ago likely would have been Georgia. I can’t help but think Kirby Smart is going to do a great job over there, and he had some solid returning depth along the offensive line and in the running back corps, with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. But now that running back depth is in jeopardy, with Chubb still assumedly recovering from his season-ending injury last year, and Michel sustaining a bad break (sorry for the pun) of his own. That, plus an undefined situation at quarterback set Georgia back, at least in my perception.

I honestly don’t understand the premature crowing of Tennessee. Yeah, they have some players. But I’ve yet to be blown away by anything Butch Jones has done since he’s been there. They’re still Tennessee. They are so far removed from greatness that I don’t even think they know what it takes to be great anymore, and how to deal with greatness when they step in it.

Are they better than Florida or Georgia at this point? Sure, they probably have more returning pieces in place. They have a lot of seniors and juniors in the starting line-up, and a more talented roster than they’ve had in recent memory. Will they be the last man standing at the end of the season? An argument could definitely be made.

But Florida once again has a chance to do something they did quite well last year, and that is fly under the radar. They didn’t do anything specific at an elite level, and yet, they made it to the SEC Championship Game. Yes, the SEC East as a whole was wretched. But the Gators won the games they needed to win, and knocked off their primary SEC rivals. That’s a testament to Jim McIlwain as much as anything else. I can’t imagine their offense being any worse than it was last year from a personnel perspective, and though there are a lot of mysteries, the Gators and Coach Mac probably did more with less last year.

The East could honestly go to any of the top three teams, and guessing before seeing any of them on the field is a fool’s errand. But if I’m following my "intuition" (read: opiate-induced euphoria), I’d have to say that Florida will be in the "winner’s circle" (read: place where the team that gets embarrassed by Alabama in the SECCG stands.)

West

This one is even tougher than the East, if I’m being totally truthful. You see, I try not to Gump. Honestly, people, that’s not a joke. I really, really have to restrain the giant Gumpopotamus that dwells within. I do a pretty good job most of the time. Nick Saban has made the assumption of an Alabama win more than just an exercise in Gumpism, but rather a logical recognition of the statistically likely outcome.

But that’s not why I think Bama will win the West again. I look at the landscape of the West, and I honestly don’t see any team that is likely to beat Alabama. Read that again and understand me. That doesn’t mean Alabama will run the table. It doesn’t mean that some team won’t beat Alabama in the 2016 season, because that very well may happen. It means I don’t see a team that should be favored in any game against the Tide this year.

Alabama could slip to any number of teams on its schedule. Maybe LSU, maybe Ole Miss. Maybe a team from the East…in particular, Tennessee. Can we sit here today and say without a doubt Alabama will lose any of those games? Nope. They should win all of them given the ridiculous talent on the field and the high quality of the coaching staff. Everybody keeps making a big deal about road games. Have we forgotten the fact that Saban-led teams have in recent memory performed much better on the road than it home? Road games are to be celebrated rather than feared. Hell, I’m GLAD the Tide is going to Baton Rouge this year. When was the last time the Vols or Razorbacks beat Alabama in their home stadiums. I could care less about supposed home field advantage.

There isn’t a team with substantially fewer holes in their respective rosters than Alabama. LSU’s defense will be pretty nasty, sure. Nastier than Alabama’s defense? Probably can’t say that as we sit here today. So Alabama doesn’t yet have a quarterback…okay, your point? Alabama didn’t have an established quarterback in either of the two previous seasons, seasons that ended in a trip to the College Football Playoffs and in one case, a natty. And can anyone honestly say at this point that Bama’s QB-TBD is going to be worse than Brandon Harris?

Ole Miss isn’t a credible threat to win the West. They’ve had their chances the last two seasons and choked, and they won’t get a better chance with a lesser team in 2016 than they fielded last season. Arky-Texas A&M-Mississippi State clearly aren’t going to shock the world this year, and it would take that to forecast any of those teams ending the season as SEC West Champs.

I won’t even talk about Auburn, other than to offer a few words, and an exhibit. The words are "Dumpster fire," "cluster eff" (technically not a word, I know, but rather a phonetically-spelled letter), and "football herpes." As Exhibit A, I present to you Gus Malzahn’s performance at SEC Media Days. Betwixt the aforementioned concepts, please draw your own conclusion…I’ve given you ample food for thought.

So, will Bama run the table, undefeated? Probably not. Will Alabama win the West? I have to say yes, until some other team proves they have the ability to do it. Saban is still "The Man," and in the words of Nobel-prize winning neuroscientist Ric "Nature Boy" Flair, "you gotta beat the man to be the man."

Tee it up and let’s kick already. Geez.

Clint:

East:

1. Tennessee Volunteers - The Vols return their three headed monster on offense (Dobbs, Hurd and Kamara) in addition to getting back four of their five starting offensive linemen. On defense, Barnett, Reeves-Maybin and Sutton are some of the premier players at their respective positions and should help balance the roster overall. Georgia is the wildcard in the East, but Tennessee’s experience prevails as the Vols win their first division title since 2007.

2. Georgia Bulldogs - The Bulldogs are going to be taking the field with a new head coach, a new starting quarterback and a new starting left tackle. Combine that with the question marks surrounding Nick Chubb and Sony Michel’s availability and you have a recipe for a wild season. If Eason can take the job from Grayson Lambert and avoid performing like a true freshman, the Bulldogs have a chance. The offense will be longing for the return of their two stud running backs.

3. Florida Gators - The Gators have lost a lot from their defense the last couple years. Vernon Hargreaves III, Dante Fowler Jr., Keanu Neal and others are off to the NFL, but the defense will still have impact players. Jalen Tabor is arguably the best cornerback in the country and Jarrad Davis has a chance to be the first linebacker taken in next year’s draft. The offense is still a mess, however. Former Alabama walk-on Luke Del Rio looks like the favorite to win the starting job at quarterback, but it remains to be seen if he can hang with the conferences’ elite. The team needs someone to step up and be the primary running back after losing Kelvin Taylor to the NFL.

4. Vanderbilt Commodores

5. Missouri Tigers

6. Kentucky Wildcats

7. South Carolina Gamecocks

West:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide - Another year, another quarterback battle. The constant change as quarterback hasn’t fazed the Crimson Tide up to this point under Saban, so I’m going to look at what has made the Tide competitive in years past. The defense will once again be rock solid, and could break the record for most players taken in the first-round on one side of the ball. The running game still needs work, but I have no doubt that Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris and true freshman B.J. Emmons can handle the workload. The Tide has a really tough schedule ahead so I expect them to stumble at some point, but I don’t see anyone knocking them off the throne this year.

2. LSU Tigers - Leonard Fournette will be running with a chip on his shoulder this year after being left out as a finalist for the Heisman trophy, and Brandon Harris is an underrated quarterback who should be improved after a rocky 2015. Losing tackles Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins hurts, but I still expect this to be one of the best teams in the SEC. The transition to the 3-4 defense might not go as smoothly as some expect, but they have talented players like Arden Key who fit the system.

3. Ole Miss Rebels - Despite a lot of off the field issues this offseason, the Rebels should still be in for a decent year. Chad Kelly is the best returning quarterback in the SEC, and he still has capable weapons around him in Evan Engram and Damore’ea Stringfellow as well as true freshmen DK Metcalf and AJ Brown. The team did lose a ton of starters off of last year’s team which includes three first-rounders in tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. I expect Chad Kelly to have a big year simply because the offense will likely be playing from behind quite a bit.

4. Texas A&M Aggies

5. Arkansas Razorbacks

6. Auburn Tigers

7. Mississippi State Bulldogs

CB:

EAST:

1. Tennessee
2. Florida
3. Georgia
4. South Carolina
5. Missouri
6. Kentucky
7. Vanderbilt

WEST:

1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Ole Miss
4. Texas A&M
5. Arkansas
6. Auburn
7. Mississippi State

East

Are you believing the hype around Tennessee? It sounds kinda familiar to this time last year with another Alabama rival. The Vols have a brutal four week stretch vs. Fla, at UGA, at TAMU, vs. Alabama. You have to wonder if they will be so focused on ending the Gators' 11-game win streak against them that, win or lose, they fall in Athens the following week. By the time Bama comes to town, they could be spent. After that, it is a cakewalk for UT.

The East could again come down the the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. I see Florida topping Georgia in that fine affair. More likely, the UF-UT winner (in Week 4 no less!) probably wins the East.

After that, it is a four-way race to stay out of the cellar.

West

This should be a two-horse race between Alabama and LSU. I hate to be break some hearts but looking at the schedules, the Bayou Bengals seem to have a smoother path. Ole Miss lost two many key players and they will be followed by a dark cloud all season.

The Aggies should be better with the maturity of Oklahoma grad-transfer Trevor Knight under center. Arky lost a lot of talent. Auburn did not do much to improve on last year's team. Dan Mullen shoulda jumped ship with Dak Prescott.

Josh:

WEST:

1. Alabama
2. LSU
3. Ole Miss
4. Arkansas
5. Texas A&M
6. Auburn
7. Miss. St.


EAST:

1. Georgia
2. Tennessee
3. Florida
4. Kentucky
5. Mizzou
6. South Carolina
7. Vanderbilt

East


If Kentucky is the median of a division there is a problem. With Florida having the misfortune of an LSU/Arkansas draw from the West, the division will come down to the UGA vs. Tennessee tilt in Athens. Take the Dawgs at home to become the sacrificial pups in Atlanta.

West:

On the other side, how can you pick against the Tide? The defense will feature up to seven (!) five-stars on the field together on passing downs, and whichever blue chip wins the QB job will have two five-stars to hand off to and three more to throw to. It's an embarrassment of riches at this point. I can't pick against them in any game.

TOTALS:

EAST:

1. Tennessee (8 points)
2. Florida (12)
3. Georgia (13)
4. Kentucky (20)
5. Missouri (23)
6. Vanderbilt (33)
7. South Carolina (36)

WEST:

1. LSU (9)
1. Alabama (9)
3. Ole Miss (18)
4. Texas A&M (25)
5. Arkansas (32)
6. Auburn (36)
7. Mississippi State (39)

Well, there it is. Nobody can accuse RBR of being Gumps. Just remember, if LSU wins the SEC West, that doesn't mean the Crimson Tide will not make the CFB Playoff. Remember 2011!

So, you be the tiebreaker. How will it stack up this fall?

#RollTide