Las Vegas has set championship odds and over-under win totals.
Preseason polls are surfacing. Sites are using jersey numbers to count down the days. Sept. 1 still is months away, but clearly the clock is ticking.
One of our favorite offseason hobbies is to uncover and predict crazy upset picks. We went 1-for-5 last season, correctly predicting Florida over Ole Miss.
An insane upset pick this season would be taking Auburn over Clemson in the opener. We’ll dial it back a bit from that, while acknowledging wild things must happen in order for these five road teams to pull off the unlikely upset.
1. Texas A&M over Alabama, Oct. 22 in Tuscaloosa: If Alabama’s backfield is as shaky as it appears, the Tide could have one or two losses by the time Myles Garrett visits. Because it’s Alabama and because Alabama generally plugs and plays better than anybody, odds are decent that the Tide survived road trips to Ole Miss and/or Tennessee. Still, this game is dangerous. Alabama will be returning from Knoxville and no doubt have looming LSU on its mind. Texas A&M might have more firepower than Alabama and will push the pace. Can Alabama’s offense keep up?
2. Georgia over Ole Miss, Sept. 24 in Oxford: If Nick Chubb is healthy … Does Vegas have an over/under on how many times we’ll hear that as a qualifier to gauging the Dawgs this season? But if Chubb is healthy, Georgia’s ground game could pose the biggest threat to yet another Chad Kelly 300-yard passing day.
Kirby Smart has lost two straight to Ole Miss. Now Georgia’s head coach, he could use a favorable bounce or two, too, considering how good fortune smiled on the Rebels last season against his Alabama defense.
3. Kentucky over Florida, Sept. 10 in Gainesville: The streak has to end, and when better than the second game of the season, when the opponent has a newer quarterback, newer backfield and revamped defense. Florida will be far more dangerous in November than September, and that alone gives the Wildcats hope of ending their 29-game losing streak against the Gators. They haven’t won in Gainesville since 1979.
4. Ole Miss over FSU, Sept. 5 in Orlando: Technically, not a true road game, but nobody will be surprised if Camping World Stadium is 85 percent garnet. FSU, led by Heisman candidate Dalvin Cook, has national championship aspirations. The Seminoles will enter the Monday night season opener ranked in the top 5 in many polls. Ole Miss, breaking in numerous new faces, likely will be ranked in the teens. The Rebels will be better later in the season, but what an opening statement the SEC can make if the Rebels can go into Florida and knock off the Noles.
5. Missouri over Tennessee, Nov. 19 in Knoxville: Every fan base has moments that they can point to as things that “only happen to us.” Fact is, crazy stuff happens coast to coast, and it happens every year. What would be more heartbreaking than beating Georgia, beating Florida, beating Alabama, rising to No. 1 in the country … and then losing at home on a cold, rainy day to a hard-hitting Missouri team that forced four turnovers. It’ll never happen … but because the Tigers are on scholarship too, we’ll watch.
Chris Wright is Executive Editor at SaturdayDownSouth.com. Email him at email@example.com.