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: 6-6, 2-6
2013 Actual: 12-2, 7-1


Aug. 30 vs. South Dakota St. (W): The Tigers boasted the nation’s 14th-best scoring offense at 39 points per game last season. They’ll hit that and then some in their 2014 opener with a new-look passing game under Maty Mauk.

Sept. 6 at Toledo (W): A made-for-coach matchup at the Glass Bowl, Mizzou takes on Gary Pinkel’s former program where he spent 10 seasons.

Sept. 13 vs. Central Florida (W): Thankfully for the Tigers, they won’t have to contend with third overall pick Blake Bortles and a nationally-ranked Knights team that will already be knocked off their perch by Penn State in the season opener. Mizzou cruises by a couple touchdowns despite UCF having an extra week to prepare.

Sept. 20 vs. Indiana (W): Here’s one of those Big Ten teams Steve Spurrier was referring to at Gamecock Media Day. An annual bottom-dweller, the Hoosiers don’t have the personnel on either side of the football to match Mizzou’s speed.

Sept. 27 at South Carolina (L): Mizzou’s toughest game this season comes in the form of a road battle at one of the SEC’s most hostile venues. The offense sputtered under James Franklin during the Tigers’ first appearance at Williams-Brice Stadium, but this time around, it’ll be Mauk’s confidence that is shaken early in a possible SEC Network morning show site between two early unbeatens. South Carolina’s the only East team Mizzou has not beaten since joining the conference.

Oct. 11 vs. Georgia (L): What has become known unofficially as the ‘grown man football’ rivalry in the Eastern Division thanks to Sheldon Richardson’s comments in 2012, the Tigers welcome the Bulldogs to Faurot Field for the most important home game of the season. One of three swing games in the division this fall, the Tigers will have two weeks in prep for Georgia, but it won’t be enough in a close game decided by a field goal.

Oct. 18 at Florida (L): Mizzou suffers a dreadful 0-3 start in the SEC with a physically-demanding loss in Gainesville to a Florida team with a few favors to return around the division.

Oct. 25 vs. Vanderbilt (W): The Tigers snap a three-game losing skid and win their first conference game of the season against first-year coach Derek Mason and the Commodores.

Nov. 1 vs. Kentucky (W): Dismissed star Dorial Green-Beckham had his way with the Wildcats’ secondary during last year’s matchup. A different receiver sparkles on this night.

Nov. 15 at Texas A&M (L): Another see-saw battle that could go either way, we’ll give the Aggies the edge being at home. If Markus Golden and the Mizzou front seven can get pressure on Texas A&M’s passing game however, the outcome will be different.

Nov. 22 at Tennessee (W): This one won’t be a cakewalk, but shoddy quarterback play leads to a handful of turnovers for the Vols against an opportunistic defense.

Nov. 28 vs. Arkansas (W): Mizzou shakes off an 0-3 SEC start to finish .500 in league play with a respectable eighth regular-season win against its new permanent cross-division rival.

2014 PROJECTED FINISH: 8-4, 4-4

THE LOWDOWN: If there’s any media outlet out there that picked the Tigers to win the SEC East and finish with 12 victories last season, I’d like to buy them dinner. What a fantastic showing for Mizzou and Gary Pinkel in 2013, rebounding from a tumultuous opening season in the SEC to capture a division title. The Tigers won’t be sneaking up on anyone this fall, but the schedule is considered favorable by SEC standards. There’s no reason why Mizzou can’t compete for the SEC Championship, but Mauk’s play will determine just how close the Tigers come. If Mizzou can win 2-of-3 against the Gamecocks, Bulldogs and Gators over that crucial four-week stretch, Mizzou can pack its bags for Atlanta.