Everyone is chasing Alabama in 2013, but the Crimson Tide still has enough talent in its pool to earn another celebration in Atlanta. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

SEC Preview: 2013 Predictions

The SEC preview opened, predictably enough, with a simple question: Who can catch Alabama?

When you have won three BCS national championships in four years, that question is to be expected.

We at Saturday Blitz have spent the last two weeks breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of every team in the nation’s most decorated and polarizing league in the 21st century. Now comes time for predictions.

So who’s the team to beat? The answer will not surprise you.

 

SEC East

Georgia

Projected record: 10-2, 7-1 SEC

Most important game: vs. South Carolina (Sept. 7)

Potential to be upset: at Clemson (Aug. 31)

Forecast: QB Aaron Murray ends with another shot in the SEC Championship Game, partially thanks to a strong run game and partially because of emerging stars on defense such as LB Jordan Jenkins.

 

South Carolina

Projected record: 10-2, 6-2 SEC

Most important game: at Georgia (Sept. 7)

Potential to be upset: vs. Clemson (Nov. 30)

Forecast: Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier continues his string of 10-win seasons but South Carolina can’t get the necessary help to overcome an early season loss at Georgia.

 

Florida

Projected record: 7-5, 4-4 SEC

Most important game: vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville, Fla.; Nov. 2)

Potential to be upset: at Kentucky (Sept. 28)

Forecast: A Gators team that lived on the edge too many times in 2012 regresses back into the SEC pack unless QB Jeff Driskel can win grind out wins this fall.

 

Vanderbilt

Projected record: 7-5, 3-5 SEC

Most important game: vs. Ole Miss (Aug. 29)

Potential for an upset: None; (If I have to pick one): vs. Georgia (Oct. 19)

Forecast: It’s not that Vanderbilt will be substantially worse in 2013, but rather that the bottom of the SEC East is on the rise with the emergence of Tennessee and Kentucky and with Missouri needing to be on the mend.

 

Missouri

Projected record: 6-6, 3-5 SEC

Most important game: at Vanderbilt (Oct. 5)

Potential for an upset: vs. Florida (Oct. 19)

Forecast: Coach Gary Pinkel, with his back against the ropes, inspires a big bounce-back season from now-healthy QB James Franklin and the Tigers prove cagy enough on defense to steal enough wins to gain bowl eligibility.

 

Kentucky

Projected record: 6-6, 3-5 SEC

Most important game: vs. Missouri (Nov. 9)

Potential for an upset: vs. Florida (Sept. 28)

Forecast: Kentucky takes significant steps forward under first-year coach Mark Stoops – especially on defense – and enters the last game of the season needing a home win over Tennessee to gain bowl eligibility.

 

Tennessee

Projected record: 5-7, 2-6 SEC

Most important game: vs. Vanderbilt (Nov. 23)

Potential for an upset: vs. South Carolina (Oct. 19)

Forecast: The Volunteers rely heavily on a strong run game and hope to weather the storm while a quarterback (to be named later) becomes more seasoned. Tennessee ultimately falls one game short of bowl eligibility under first year coach Butch Jones.

 

SEC West

Alabama

Projected record: 11-1, 7-1 SEC

Most important game: at Texas A&M (Sept. 7)

Potential to be upset: at Texas A&M (Sept. 7)

Forecast: Coach Nick Saban simply gets too many weapons – and promotes too many talented former five-star recruits on defense – to slip. Alabama rolls to the SEC West title.

 

Texas A&M

Projected record: 9-3, 5-3 SEC

Most important game: vs. Alabama (Sept. 7)

Potential to be upset: at Ole Miss (Oct. 12)

Forecast: QB Johnny Manziel leads what remains a high-octane offense, but the defense simply loses too much to lead the Aggies to a divisional crown – even after a Week 2 win over Alabama.

 

LSU

Projected record: 9-3, 5-3 SEC

Most important game: vs. Texas A&M (Nov. 23)

Potential to be upset: at Ole Miss (Oct. 19)

Forecast: LSU continues to be a force in the SEC West but a brutal four-week stretch starting at Georgia and ending at Ole Miss derails any hopes of a divisional crown.

 

Auburn

Projected record: 7-5, 3-5 SEC

Most important game: vs. Mississippi State (Sept. 14)

Potential for an upset: vs. Ole Miss (Oct. 5)

Forecast: First-year coach Gus Malzahn brings hope back to Auburn and Ellis Johnson’s defense makes a big difference with a talented group that underachieved in 2012.

 

Ole Miss

Projected record: 6-6, 3-5 SEC

Most important game: at Vanderbilt (Aug. 29)

Potential for an upset: vs. Texas A&M (Oct. 12)

Forecast: The Rebels’ record doesn’t indicate a step forward, but Hugh Freeze’s team is a better team in 2013. The best division in college football, teamed with a tough non-conference road game at Texas, leads to a .500 record.

 

Mississippi State

Projected record: 6-6, 3-5 SEC

Most important game: at Auburn (Sept. 14)

Potential for an upset: LSU (Oct. 5)

Forecast: Hopes of Mississippi State reaching the next level during QB Tyler Russell’s senior season crash into a harsh reality that the SEC West is loaded, leaving the Bulldogs fighting for a bowl berth.

 

Arkansas

Projected record: 6-6, 2-6 SEC

Most important game: vs. Auburn (Nov. 2)

Potential for an upset: vs. Texas A&M (Sept. 28)

Forecast: Arkansas’ strong pass rush gives it a chance in every game and masks some offensive deficiencies, allowing the Razorbacks to get back to a bowl game in 2013.

 

SEC Championship prediction: Alabama 29, Georgia 24

Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide Arkansas Razorbacks Auburn Tigers Florida Gators Georgia Bulldogs Kentucky Wildcats Louisiana State Tigers Mississippi State Bulldogs Missouri Tigers Ole Miss Rebels SEC South Carolina Gamecocks Tennessee Volunteers Texas A&M Aggies Vanderbilt Commodores

comments powered by Disqus