Looking at potential upsets this season in the SEC
Upsets happen and we love it when they do (unless it’s your team falling victim to the upset). It’s natural that upsets will happen in the SEC this season, and maybe a couple of teams will exceed expectations.
Here are five upsets we’re calling in 2016.
Kentucky over Florida (Sept. 10): The Wildcats haven’t beaten the Gators at football since 1986, but they have closed the gap considerably in the past couple of years.
Last time the two teams met in Gainesville, Florida needed every break to escape with a 36-30 victory in double overtime.
Kentucky also had opportunities last year to end the streak, but the Gators’ defense was just too good in a 14-9 win.
Florida is breaking in a new quarterback again and Kentucky is a desperate team. The Wildcats are desperate to make a bowl and desperate to get a significant victory for head coach Mark Stoops in an effort to keep him off the hot seat. Expect another nail-biter in Gainesville.
Missouri over Georgia (Sept. 17): A true freshman quarterback in his first conference game on the road can spell disaster. Last year Georgia won a 9-6 game that was painful to watch at times. This has all the makings of another ugly, defensive game that only the staunchest Bulldogs and Tigers fans will be able to sit through.
The questions are if Georgia’s offensive line can stop the Mizzou pass rush from rattling Jacob Eason and if the Bulldogs can get enough from their great running game to pound Missouri into submission.
On the Tigers’ side, they have to hope that Drew Lock is a better quarterback than the wide-eyed freshman who didn’t complete 50 of his passes in six of his final seven games last year. An early upset win for the Tigers would be a nice way for Barry Odom’s head coaching career to begin.
Arkansas over Alabama (Oct. 8): The Crimson Tide will be going for their 10th consecutive win over the Razorbacks when they meet in Arkansas. The last time they played in Fayetteville, Alabama escaped 14-13.
Last year Arkansas led 7-3 in Tuscaloosa until late in the third quarter and they were one of the few teams to hold Derrick Henry to under 100 yards.
Most teams aren’t willing to grind it out with Alabama and the those who think they can usually end up getting embarrassed (see Michigan State). But Arkansas is a tough, prideful squad that believes it can play at a level of physicality equal to that of the Alabama. The Razorbacks have a solid defensive line that can hold against the run. If Arkansas can find a little success on offense, there’s a chance for a major upset.
Vanderbilt over Ole Miss (Nov. 19): The Rebels have won the past three contests but two were close, including last year when Vanderbilt tied the score at 13 in the second half and were within 20-16 in the fourth quarterback before Ole Miss scored an insurance touchdown to put the game away.
Normally this game is played in September or October, but Vanderbilt has a schedule advantage this year with this game in mid-November and the Commodores could possibly catch Ole Miss napping in a game that’s sandwiched between SEC West opponent Texas A&M and in-state rival Mississippi State.
A lot of Vanderbilt’s chances can depend on the Rebels’ health. If Ole Miss’ defensive line has shown signs of wear and tear through the first 10 games, I can see Ralph Webb carving the Rebels up for 150 tough yards and keeping the score in the teens.
If Vanderbilt can keep the score low and control the time of possession with their running game the upset possibilities are high.
Texas A&M over LSU (Nov. 24): Normally Thanksgiving college football games are less than appealing, but this SEC West clash looks like it could be very interesting. LSU has given the Aggies all kinds of problems, winning the past five meetings and all four since A&M joined the SEC.
And if LSU has done as well as most people expect they will be looking at one of the following options: a) clinching the SEC West; b) staying ranked in or around No. 1; c) clinching a spot in a NY6 bowl or outside shot at playoff slot (if the Tigers have lost to Bama).
So it’s likely this game will have some general interest. Even deeper, LSU supposedly saved Les Miles’ job last year when the Tigers’ win over A&M made the fans forget about being crushed by Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss in succession.
So maybe in 2016 the script will be flipped and Texas A&M will need to beat LSU to save Kevin Sumlin’s job. Wouldn’t that be special?