My 3 Bold Predictions for the SEC
Love ’em or hate ’em, you have to respect the SEC’s dominance since 2006. In that span, the SEC has won 8 national championships and participated in 9. It’s been a tale of two divisions over the last few years. While all 7 teams from the SEC West have gone to a bowl game two seasons in a row, the SEC East has struggled to keep up the pace. The SEC West has won the last 7 SEC Championships (yeah the last SEC East team that won a SEC championship was Florida in 2008).
As the season draws near, it looks like the SEC West’s dominance will continue. However, the East does have a reinvigorated Tennessee Volunteers team. The Vols look to be the strong favorite to win the SEC East and be a tough competitor to the SEC West. Until Butch Jones and co. can win that first game against a major opponent, I will hold off on any predictions that the SEC West will be taken down this year. After all, I am in the business of making bold predictions, not unrealistic ones.
Calvin Ridley will lead the SEC in receiving with 1,500+ yards receiving.
With the exit of Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, Alabama’s other 5 star skill players will be getting the ball a lot more this year. That includes Calvin Ridley who, despite Derrick Henry’s unheard of 406 touches last season, still managed to have 1,000+ receiving yards his freshman year. In the first two years of Lane Kiffin’s regime as Bama’s OC, a trend has emerged. 2014: Give the ball to Amari Cooper (1,700+ receiving yards & 16 TDs). 2015: Give the ball to Derrick Henry (2,200+ rushing yards & 28 TDs). In 2016, I think his not-so-secret offensive philosophy will be to give the ball to Calvin Ridley. And that’s the thing about Alabama — their skill players are so good that it doesn’t matter if you know who they’re going to give the ball to. You still won’t be able to stop them. Kiffin probably revels in driving opposing DCs insane. But hey, why stop what’s working?
Ole Miss will finish in the bottom half of the SEC West.
This will be Hugh Freeze’s 5th year at Ole Miss. His first two years he spent building the program and recruiting, while managing to finish a modest 5th in the West each year. However, Ole Miss has taken the leap with their new talent and finished in the top 3 the last two years. I think that changes this year. Besides losing a plethora of talent to the NFL draft, there is an NCAA investigation looming over the program that I think will weigh them down as the season goes on. An ongoing NCAA investigation during the season is going to require the Rebels to play well early. Think about it, if they start the season 3–4 or 2–5, there will be immense pressure on their Athletic Department to wave the white flag and self-impose a bowl ban for 2016 in hopes of getting the NCAA off their back. And if a self-imposed ban happens, I think their season implodes resulting in what could be a last place finish in the SEC West. The one redeeming quality for Ole Miss is Chad Kelly. In my eyes, he’s unquestionably the best QB in the SEC. But if he gets hurt or his talents aren’t enough to get them past their brutal start with a winning record, I’m afraid it will end up being a long season for Ole Miss.
Ralph Webb will lead Vanderbilt to a bowl game.
Honestly, is there any college football fan outside of the SEC that has heard of Ralph Webb? Vandy gets a bad rap for having such a poor offense that people often forget they have a pretty salty RB in Ralph Webb. Last season Webb finished tied for 5th in the SEC for rushing with 1,100+ yards. This season I think he only improves and carries Vanderbilt’s offense to 6 wins and a birth to the Birmingham Bowl. Webb has started every game for Vandy over the last two seasons, and this year will be his time to shine. If it weren’t for fellow SEC RBs like Leonard Fournette, Nick Chubb, Jalen Hurd, etc., I would pick him to finish 1st team All-SEC. Unfortunately, there are RBs that are much more talented than him, but he gets that 1st team All-Heart while leading his beloved Commodores to postseason play for the first time under HC Derek Mason.
And just like that another year of SEC football is set to start on Thursday. South Carolina @ Vandy is the SEC opener we’ve all been waiting for. I will be releasing a special 3 bold prediction article for Auburn tomorrow night. Stay tuned for some hot takes on my beloved Tigers. Thanks for reading!