East vs. West: Predicting every SEC team's crossover record in 2020
Every day, the idea of football this fall becomes a bit more realistic.
Players soon will be back on campus. Not long after that, back in pads. Slowly but surely, we’re getting back on schedule. Which, for us, means we can start looking ahead to the 2020 season.
As you well know, SEC teams don’t play a balanced conference schedule. They play everybody in their division and 2 teams from the other division (1 permanent rival, 1 rotational opponent).
Those quirky crossover games can create chaos, too. Will they impact this season? Here’s a prediction of every SEC team’s record of crossover games in 2020.
The Tide haven’t lost to an SEC East team since 2010. They host Georgia and travel to annual partner Tennessee in 2020. The streak will continue. Georgia is a trendy upset pick, but Georgia’s revamped offense won’t be ready by Week 3. Tennessee is making strides, but the Vols have shown no signs of being able to slow down the Tide’s offense.
Arkansas has lost 7 consecutive games against SEC East opponents, including the past 4 against annual rival Missouri. I think both streaks end this season. New Arkansas QB Feleipe Franks gets another shot at Tennessee, which will be fun. Franks is 2-0 against the Vols with 5 TD passes, including the dramatic game-winner in 2017. The Vols will get some revenge, but the Hogs will break their East curse in the finale against Mizzou.
Auburn has gone 0-2 against the East each of the past 2 seasons.
I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that.
The Tigers also have lost 3 consecutive games to Georgia and haven’t won in Athens since 2005. By the time the Tigers visit in mid-October, Jamie Newman will have settled in. That streak will continue, but count on the Tigers to end their East slide a week prior against visiting Kentucky.
Sweeping the West is the key to Florida’s SEC East title hopes.
Annual rival LSU visits The Swamp in mid-October, but 14 Tigers who played a key role in edging the Gators last year will be in the NFL. That includes Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who had a huge day at Death Valley. Kyle Trask, by the way, threw for 310 yards and 3 TDs last year against LSU’s vaunted secondary.
I like Florida, at home, but the following week at Ole Miss is sneaky dangerous. Georgia lurks. The Rebels will be easy to look and we already know how hard John Rhys Plumlee is to catch. Credit Trask for keeping the Gators focused on the task at hand.
The Dawgs draw Alabama in the rotation, and this time it’s in Tuscaloosa. It’s early, too, Week 3. Alabama will pressure Jamie Newman into a miserable afternoon, and Kirby Smart will leave town still looking for his first win against his mentor.
Newman bounces back against visiting Auburn, which can’t get to Newman and can’t get anything going against the Dawgs’ vaunted defense.
Kentucky hasn’t gone 2-0 against the West since this 2-game arrangement started in 2012, and I don’t expect that to change this year, either. That Cats are at Auburn in Week 5. There’s no relevant history. They last met in 2015. I expect Bo Nix to have a big day, but if Kentucky pulls off the upset, Gus Malzahn is about to get paid. Quickly.
Kentucky has split the past 4 with permanent rival Mississippi State, the home team winning each time. That will continue with this year’s game in Lexington.
LSU has alternated wins with Florida each of the past 5 years. This year’s game is at The Swamp. Florida has the far better QB in Kyle Trask and more proven talent around him. I expect the Gators to end the Tigers’ overall 21-game winning streak (which assumes LSU beats Texas in Week 2).
The Tigers host South Carolina in mid-November. That game is sandwiched between Alabama and Auburn. But it’s a trap game in theory only.
Mississippi State: 1-1
I like the fact that MSU won’t face the East until late in the season. By that point, K.J. Costello should be rolling. That’s assuming, of course, he’s still standing after facing Alabama, LSU and Auburn in 3 consecutive weeks leading up to Missouri and Kentucky.
I think Mike Leach gets it done against Missouri and stumbles at Kentucky, where the Bulldogs have lost the past 2.
The Tigers went 2-0 last year against the West, blessed with the East’s easiest crossover slate of 2019.
They get permanent rival Arkansas again and swap Ole Miss for Mississippi State. All 3 teams have a new coach and similar talent. The margins are so thin I think 2-0, 1-1 or 0-2 are possible. I think Mizzou should beat Arkansas, but let’s call the upset. The Hogs will look much different with Feleipe Franks behind center.
Ole Miss: 1-1
Ole Miss gets Vandy every year, which is a nice reprieve from the punishing SEC West slate. Ole Miss returns too much offense for the Dores to keep pace … and that’s before you add Lane Kiffin’s mind to the mix.
The Rebels also host Florida this year. How epic would it be for Kiffin to deliver a Playoff path-altering upset? I’m not predicting it, but the schedule sets the trap. Florida plays LSU, then Ole Miss, then Georgia. There is a bye between the Rebels’ game and the Cocktail Party, but we know where the Gators’ focus is going to be. John Rhys Plumlee might be the most dangerous dual-threat in the league. Are the Gators mature enough to avoid the pitfall?
South Carolina: 0-2
The Gamecocks already have a difficult permanent rival in Texas A&M. The Aggies are 6-0 in the series, which started in 2014. This year, they swapped Alabama for a trip to Baton Rouge to face LSU.
Last year A&M and Alabama outscored South Carolina 77-29.
The gap might be a bit closer this year, but the 0-2 record won’t change.
At least the Vols get to offset the annual loss to Alabama with a game at Arkansas. Just don’t mention the fact that new Hogs starting QB Feleipe Franks is 2-0 against Tennessee. And definitely don’t mention how he won that second game.
Texas A&M: 2-0
Remember how brutal the Aggies’ schedule was in 2019?
Well, this is the reward. An annual date with South Carolina coupled with a game against Vanderbilt is about as friendly as it gets. The only way this could be better is if the Aggies (and their fans) got to travel to Nashville.
Vandy beat Ole Miss twice in 3 years, but that’s when the Commodores had a veteran, playmaking backfield. Now, they just have questions and Ole Miss has the answers and exclamation points on offense.
Drawing Texas A&M isn’t ideal, either.
Derek Mason is staring at his 5th 0-2 mark against the West in 7 years.