20 Aug 2019 SEC West Preview
2019 SEC West Preview
The West runs through Tuscaloosa… but will there be any other schools that have a say in making that narrative a thing of the past?
Alabama: (Prediction: 12 Wins)
Nick Saban off a loss is not a team you want to run into. The Crimson Tide will be a force this season, as they are every year. The scary thing this time? This team is even better than the dominant team we saw from a year ago. Tua’s options will be plentiful, returning all three of the Alabama three-headed receiving monster, along with RB Najee Harris. Another weak out-of-conference schedule for Alabama this season brings little challenge for the Tide throughout this season. I don’t see them losing in the regular season, go ahead and book your hotels in Atlanta for December.
Key Matchups: @ South Carolina (9/14), @ Texas A&M (10/12), vs. LSU (11/9), @ Auburn (11/30)
LSU: (Prediction: 11 Wins)
LSU is entering 2019 with one of the more difficult schedules in the SEC, but that’s just what happens when you play in the SEC West and add an out of conference against a preseason Top 10 team. Coach O has a strong track record in non-conference games, and I believe this defense is too much for Texas to handle. QB Joe Burrow wants to end his college career on a strong note, and this is a team that can make a playoff push if the stars are aligned right, a few things go the Tigers way, and they beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa on November 9th. Some tough games to get to that point, but everyone has that game circled in red on their calendar.
Key Matchups: @ Texas (9/7), vs Flordia (10/12), @ Alabama (11/9), vs Texas A&M (11/30)
Texas A&M: (Prediction: 8 Wins)
Sporting the single toughest schedule in the SEC West, Jimbo Fisher, entering his 2nd season as Head Coach, will have to try to embrace the underdog role all season long. And they’ll have a shot at each of the top three teams, unfortunately for them, two of the three will be on the road. Kellen Mond showed some signs of greatness in his stint as the A&M starter, and from reports from camp, has seemed to look like an all-around better quarterback from a year ago. They will need him to be more than a “better quarterback” if they want to have a serious chance in this division.
Key Matchups: @ Clemson (9/7), vs. Auburn (9/21), vs Alabama (10/12), @ Georgia (11/23), @ LSU (11/30)
Mississippi State (Prediction: 8 Wins)
As I am writing this nobody knows who the starting QB will be for Mississippi State. Joe Moorehead has hinted to having a general idea of who the starter will be, so I’m going to make the decision and assume it will be Penn State transfer, Tommy Stevens. Stevens will be a great fit in the Mississippi State offense, which will be run similarly to the system Stevens is coming from, featuring more passing than a year ago but still being a threat to take off on the ground. They face a relatively easy schedule, taking on Tennessee and Kentucky from the east, with their only Power 5 non-conference game being against Kansas State.
Key Matchups: vs Kansas State (9/14), vs Kentucky (9/21), @ Tennessee (10/12),
Auburn (Prediction: 7 Wins)
Do I think Mississippi State is a better team than Auburn? Of course, I don’t. Does Auburn have a more challenging schedule than Mississippi State? Absolutely. Both of these statements can be true as Auburn is faced with the task of playing one of the most difficult schedules in this division, only behind Texas A&M. I do believe that Auburn has a good solid team this year, but nothing extraordinary and will be taken down by some of the heavy hitters on their schedule. On a positive note, Auburn faces UGA and Alabama at home as they did in 2017 when they last won the SEC West, and with this schedule, a few upsets could find them as a dark horse in the CFB Playoffs.
Key Matchups: vs Oregon (8/31), @ A&M (9/21), @ Florida (10/5), @ LSU (10/26), vs Georgia (11/16), vs Alabama (11/30)
Ole Miss (Prediction: 5 Wins)
Although the Ole Miss Rebels get to draw Mizzou and Vandy out of the East, I do not see a turnaround season for Ole Miss this season. To open the year they start against an AAC team trending up in Memphis where they are already considered the underdog. I do not see Matt Luke pulling off a big upset on their schedule, dropping all divisional games except against Arkansas early on. Ole Miss has consistently been one of the best passing teams in the country and can score in bunches, but this all hinders on the play of QB Matt Corral, who last season saw success in limited playing time, and is a former 5-star pro-style QB. If Corral can learn quickly as the starter with Rich Rodriguez as his OC, Ole Miss Football will continue to find their success in the air.
Key Matchups: @ Memphis (8/31), vs Arkansas (9/7), vs California (9/21), @ Mississippi State (11/28)
Arkansas (Prediction: 4 Wins)
The past two seasons have been ones to forget for the Razorbacks, who enter 2019 with one SEC win in the past two years. Close your ears Hogs fans, I do not see much improvement which makes me think this won’t be the year Arkansas wins an SEC game. Every game I have them projected to win is against an inferior opponent outside of the Power 5. This Razorbacks team is going to struggle but may find some good spots throughout the schedule where their opponent may be looking past them. I guess 2-10 to 4-8 is an improvement, but to be of any relevance you must win your conference games, which Arkansas has failed to do.
Key Matchups: @ Ole Miss (9/7), vs Kentucky (10/12), vs Missouri (11/29)