Will Auburn repeat as SEC champions? What team will emerge as a division darkhorse no one’s talking about? It’s time for Year 2 of our two-week, daily ‘Crystal Ball’ series on how each of the SEC’s 14 teams will finish this fall.

We hit a couple big-time upsets last fall including Tennessee’s win over South Carolina, but didn’t expect 12 wins out of Mizzou, a BCS title-game run from Auburn or Florida’s faceplant in Will Muschamp’s third season.


2013 Crystal Ball Projection: 12-0, 8-0
2013 Actual: 11-2, 7-1


Aug. 30 vs. West Virginia, Atlanta (W): Alabama gets back to Nick Saban’s ‘process’ and delivers a vintage whooping at the expense of the Mountaineers.

Sept. 6 vs. Florida Atlantic (W): T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry each topple the 100-yard mark in a 45-point smashing.

Sept. 13 vs. Southern Miss (W): Yet to be tested, this matchup doesn’t show us much either.

Sept. 20 vs. Florida (W): Alabama’s SEC opener brings out the best in both teams. The Gators’ offense may have made progress at this point under Kurt Roper, but Florida’s not winning its toughest game of the season in Tuscaloosa. Likely the CBS afternoon game, Alabama improves to 4-0.

Oct. 4 at Ole Miss (L): We know picking this upset’s a stretch coming off a bye, but Alabama’s first true road test of the season will prove much difficult than the opening line. Forget about last year’s score. The conditions are quite different. At some point in the fourth quarter, the Ole Miss defense comes up with a crucial stop to preserve a signature victory for Hugh Freeze.

Oct. 11 at Arkansas (W): Establishing a rhythm on offense, anchored by Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, is vital for Arkansas. A first-quarter turnover followed by a quick score could quickly turn things into a rout.

Oct. 18 vs. Texas A&M (W): The Aggies have frustrated the heck out of Alabama defensively the last two seasons, but a certain playmaking quarterback who kept many possessions alive with his feet is no longer back there. Kirby Smart buckles down and finally impresses against Texas A&M.

Oct. 25 at Tennessee (W): This year’s installment of the fourth Saturday in October will be decided much like the last four meetings in blowout fashion.

Nov. 8 at LSU (W): We like Alabama’s chances with two weeks to prepare for Leonard Fournette and LSU’s freshmen-heavy attack, especially since this one’s late in the season when the Crimson Tide have hit their stride post-Ole Miss. The loser of this game’s all but eliminated from Western Division contention.

Nov. 15 vs. Mississippi St. (W): For the first time in several years, the Bulldogs feel they can match-up nearly player for player with Alabama this season. Mississippi St. could be an equal adversary by this junction or be at the other end of the spectrum as a team that’s still struggling against nationally-ranked competition.

Nov. 22 vs. Western Carolina (W): The Catamounts cash in a turnover for three points in the first quarter. That’s the final scoring summary for Western Carolina.

Nov. 29 vs. Auburn (W): Alabama’s not letting its hated nemesis ruin another run at a national championship and responds with its best win of 2014.

2014 PROJECTED FINISH: 11-1, 7-1

THE LOWDOWN: After suffering a rare road hiccup in Oxford, Alabama ends the regular season on a seven-game winning streak before setting up its title bid in Atlanta. A win there pushes the 12-1 Crimson Tide into the College Football Playoff as conference champions and erases any thoughts questioning the fall of the Alabama dynasty.