5 crazy SEC upset picks for 2015
Most nationally-notable upsets every year in the SEC follow common trends.
Underdogs are spirited, often more confident playing at home and the buzz surrounding the game, whether that’s turned up a notch with a late kick-off time or the glare of intense media spotlight, usually plays a factor in how contests unfold.
We’ve reached the point of the offseason where many of us are ‘schedule-scanning’, something I personally do in June when I have a pretty good idea of how each team is going to look two months out from the start of the season. You start glancing at bye week placement, home vs. road matchups and just how challenging a road game at Kentucky could really be for a Top 10 team — if at all.
Here are five upset picks for the 2015 season that are unlikely to happen, but very well could, if a few breaks go the underdog’s way. The one common trend I use when picking ‘crazy upsets’ in the preseason? Make sure the lesser-talented team is playing at home. There’s something about every team’s 12th Man that chances the complexion of game and alters the atmosphere at field level.
Our thorough and more in-depth Crystal Ball game-by-game SEC predictions series launches in a couple weeks. Stay tuned.
5 crazy SEC upset picks for 2015
5. Kentucky over Auburn, Thursday, Oct. 15 in Lexington
This looks like a laugher from the outset, which is precisely why it made this list. This isn’t a game the Tigers will have circled on their SEC calendars, but the Wildcats will, a chance to show the rest of the league just how far the program’s come under Mark Stoops despite last season’s second-half collapse. Against a depleted secondary, Patrick Towles and Kentucky’s Air Raid has a shot. College football teams win at home 78 percent of the time on Thursday nights, but Auburn dispelled that noteworthy statistic last season at Kansas State. The Tigers will have to do it again.
4. Texas A&M over Auburn, Nov. 7 in College Station
Another game involving one of the preseason favorites, one of Auburn’s toughest games this fall will prove to be its trip to Kyle Field. This Western Division defense-optional rivalry has proven to be one of the more exciting matchups since the Aggies joined the SEC, highlighted by last year’s heart-stopping win on the Plains. Heading down the home stretch, this one’s a must-win for Auburn to keep Playoff hopes alive and the John Chavis vs. Malzahn angle represents a must-watch.
3. Mississippi State over Alabama, Nov. 14 in Starkville
How bad does Dak Prescott want to get the proverbial monkey off of his back against Alabama this season? The senior Heisman candidate saw the Bulldogs’ spectacular run to No. 1 smashed by the Crimson Tide last fall after he tied a career-high with three interceptions in Tuscaloosa. Mississippi State has the luxury of entertaining the preseason favorites at home this fall and the cowbells will be brought to another decibel by kickoff. Alabama leads the all-time series 78-18-3 and last lost at Davis Wade Stadium in 2007. History is not on the Bulldogs’ side.
2. Florida over Ole Miss, Oct. 3 in Gainesville
The not-so-scary Swamp plays host to Ole Miss in October, one of Jim McElwain’s first marquee games as head coach of the Gators. The Rebels will have already played their toughest road game of the season at Alabama two weeks prior with very little margin for error the rest of the way if they want to stay in contention in the Western Division. That’s where Florida comes in, a middle-of-the-road squad from the East not expecting to do much this fall. If the Gators can beat Tennessee the previous weekend for the 11th straight year to start 4-0, this matchup becomes College GameDay-friendly featuring two ranked teams. By kick-off, this could be a pick’em with the Gators carrying serious momentum.
1. South Carolina over LSU, Oct. 10 in Columbia
Before last season’s home demise, the Gamecocks made Williams-Brice Stadium one of the nation’s toughest venues in the country over the previous five seasons. Eighteen consecutive home wins including several over nationally-ranked teams meant the opposition was in for it when they arrived at destination that’s famously hot — and loud. South Carolina’s defense will have to up its end of the bargain against Leonard Fournette and Co. to pull this one off. I wouldn’t imagine LSU has the offensive firepower to pull away on the road and if this one’s close heading into the fourth quarter, 80,000-plus will be in a frenzy.