Predicting each SEC team’s first loss in 2017

Oct 1, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Maurice Smith (2) reacts in front of celebrating Tennessee Volunteers players after a game winning touchdown pass on the last play on the game during the fourth quarter at Sanford Stadium. Tennessee defeated Georgia 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best things about the offseason is that whoever you root for, be it Alabama or Southwest Polytechnic State School for the Football Challenged, they’re still perfect for the 2017 season. Unfortunately, for many, the first loss comes pretty early. But how early? That’s where we come in. Here’s our guess at when each SEC squad picks up that first “L.”

West

Alabama: Never.

As last year’s team showed us, projecting an undefeated schedule is dangerous. And there are some good candidates to beat Alabama. Florida State in Week 1 looks threatening, but Saban generally excels at having his team ready to play. A road game in the Iron Bowl is fraught with peril (Kick Six anyone?) But we’d struggle to pick against the Tide — anytime.

Arkansas: Sept. 23 vs. Texas A&M (in Arlington)

TCU is Week 2 is a legitimate opponent, and the Razorbacks were lucky to win that game last season. But we’ll give them the nod there, but expect the Hogs to fall flat against A&M in their third game. This is the kind of game that Arkansas needs to win to finish in the top half of the West, but it’s far from clear that they will win it. In fact, we think not.

Auburn: Sept. 9 at Clemson

This is a game where Auburn could really work its way into the national big picture. Clemson must replace a lot of key component parts, most notably two-time Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson, but it’s undeniable that they have a ton of talent and rarely lose at home. If Jarrett Stidham can carve up the other Tigers, then Auburn would likely make it to mid-October without further challenge. But the defending champ didn’t become a champ by losing at home.

LSU: Oct. 7 at Florida

There is no love lost between these two schools. This was supposed to be a home game, but after last year’s game was shifted to Baton Rouge to solve hurricane issues, the schedule is flipped. LSU is probably more talented than Florida, but unless the Tigers have greatly improved in the pass game, the UF defense is probably gritty enough to keep a one-dimensional LSU squad from beating them. After all, they did last year.

Mississippi State: Sept. 16 vs. LSU

The Bulldogs gained momentum late in the 2016 season, but they don’t seem likely to beat LSU in Week 3, even with the game being played in Starkville. With the next two games coming at Georgia and at Auburn, State will be very lucky to not pick up an early three-game losing streak.

Ole Miss: Sept. 30 at Alabama

If Cal were any good, we might pick the Rebels to go to the West Coast and lay an egg in Week 3. But at least on the field, that Golden Bears team is in worse shape than the Rebels. This leaves Ole Miss unbeaten until they head to Tuscaloosa. The Rebels have played remarkably well against the Tide in recent seasons, but Shea Patterson will probably find the sledding a little tougher in 2017.

Texas A&M: Sept. 3 at UCLA

This isn’t a knock on the Aggies, who should have a decent season. But going cross-country and taking on a UCLA team with one of the nation’s top passers in QB Josh Rosen is a tall task. Guessing that it’s taller than A&M in Week 1. The good news is that A&M could well open 4-1 even with an opening loss.

East

Florida: Sept. 2 vs. Michigan (in Arlington)

This is a gutsy game for the Gators to play, but there are too many questions around the UF team to feel good about this one. On the bright side for Florida, if it wins this one, it might set up an Outdoor Cocktail Party for the East title. But at this point, it looks likely to fall to the Wolverines.

Georgia: Oct. 28 vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)

There are some tempting picks early against the Bulldogs, with the team traveling to South Bend and Knoxville to take on Notre Dame and Tennessee, respectively. But neither of those teams is in the same class as UGA in terms of talent and experience. The one that looks tougher is the Cocktail Party. Florida has that whole two-time defending division champion angle on its side, and Kirby Smart looked brain locked in this game last season. If UGA takes down the Gators, you might as well hand the Dawgs the East.

Kentucky: Sept. 23 vs. Florida

Some will pick Kentucky to lose the week before at South Carolina, but with three consecutive wins over the Gamecocks, Kentucky looks likely to keep the upper hand. On the other hand, UK last beat the Gators in 1987. Sure, Steve Spurrier isn’t walking through the door in Lexington in September. But until Kentucky beats the Gators, you have to expect them not to do so.

Missouri: Sept. 9 vs. South Carolina

The Tigers stay home until the month of October, but they will struggle with the superior athletes of South Carolina at home in Week 2. Drew Lock put up big passing stats in 2016, but he struggled to do so against top competition. Carolina has enough firepower to go into Columbia and come away with  a victory.

South Carolina: Sept. 16 vs. Kentucky

N.C. State as an opener could be a challenge, but Carolina returns more of its firepower than the Wolfpack and will pick up the victory in Charlotte. Week 3 against Kentucky is the kind of game that Carolina has to win to break into the upper echelon of the East. But UK has won the past three matchups in the series, and seems to have the Gamecocks’ number.

Tennessee: Sept. 16 at Florida

Some will pick Georgia Tech to pick off the Vols in their opener, Monday, Sept. 4 at Atlanta’s sparkling new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But Tech is breaking in a new QB as well, and while the triple option is a headache, it’s not as much of a headache in Week 1 as it would be dropped into the middle of the Vols’ schedule. Conventional wisdom would say that by beating Florida last year, Tennessee slayed a major ghost. Instead, it looked more like the Vols got lucky — and they’ll struggle to be similarly lucky this year in the Swamp.

Vanderbilt: Sept. 16 vs. Kansas State

MTSU could make things interesting in Week 1, but it’s K-State that will first knock off Vandy. The Wildcats, led by mobile QB Jesse Ertz, are a tough defensive matchup. Unless Vandy’s offense makes huge strides, they just don’t have the firepower to keep up in this game.

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COMMENTS

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  • Clemson lost too much to handle Auburn that early in the season. Maybe if it was Auburns first game they might have a better shot but Stidham will be the best QB on the field and Auburn will have the better talent across the board.

    • yeah, I am a bit of a Clemson fan, g/f is alum and we have season tickets and I’ll be at the game, but I think Auburn wins this one

    • Wouldn’t be so quick to write off Jeremy Johnson to win the starting job. Don’t forget, guy’s a legit headman condidate

    • Clemson has far more talent than Auburn. Their defense didn’t suffer as many losses as the 2015 team did. It just amazes me how these Barners think that some JUCO from a mediocre program (Baylor) is going to come in and set the world on fire. We’ve all heard this before from you delusional barn fans.

  • I’m confused at how if Florida beats Michigan then the UGA game will be for the east…. When did a nonconference game start meaning something in conference?

  • In regards to your Florida post: “On the bright side for Florida, if it wins this one, it might set up an Outdoor Cocktail Party for the East title.”

    Win or lose vs Michigan, it has zero bearing on the outcome of the East. Non-conference games won’t impact conference standings

  • Most of these look pretty reasonable. I don’t see Georgia making it out of September. ND or Tennessee will take one from them.

  • There’s no way that Coach O will beat us in Starkvegas. You heard it here first.

    • There is definitely a way.

      • Of course, there is a way… but it ain’t happening.

        • Im not predicting a winner but Mullen is a better coach than OO

        • Coaches don’t play and LSU has much more talent.

        • @LSUMC, talent is not a precise or deciding description either, but no argument that some qualities of the roster favor one team or the other.

        • BullTitty, let’s back up for just a second. You say, “There’s no way that Coach O will beat us in Starkvegas.”

          Then you say, “Of course, there is a way…”

          crickets*

    • Lmao it is very possible. About as possible as the other thousand times they’ve beat you there

    • LOL, yes, you are usually the first to say dumb things. State has taken the W against LSU only twice in the last 25 meetings. You’re not hiding your gayness for Fitzgerald very well AT ALL. My wall paint turned grey when I read your dumbass post.

      • You definitely have a reading comprehension problem which leads me to believe that you didn’t even go to Ole Miss. There was absolutely no mention of Fitz in my post. But since you mentioned him, he did run up the score on your failing program and will again this November.

        • You didn’t have to mention Fitz for us to know why you’re so sprung on State this year. He’s a decent QB which isn’t really all that threatening considering he “somehow” ran up the scoreboard against the #118 defense in the nation. Quick! Someone hoist him in the air for that great feat! It’s no secret, you think your sh*t don’t stink because State beat Ole Miss in Oxford. Your claim that there’s no way LSU beats State in HickTown this year made me laugh so hard I shat a diamond.

        • So I was right. You never went to Ole Miss. Why does a loser like you hide behind the racist Col Reb that has been banished by the school?

        • Ok, keyboard warrior. You don’t know the first thing about me. You sound interested though. I’m inviting you to Oxford. Although I must warn you, I’m through talking. Just come on up here. Bet you won’t, pussy.

        • You’re both so bada$$ on the internet. You’re probably not in oxford and he isn’t coming. Good job you tough MFers……

  • The Vols scoring 38 unanswered points is lucky? Because the article writer seems a bit slow, let me repeat: UT scored 38 unanswered points against UF. There’s nothing lucky about that. Furthermore, anyone who’d paid attention to the UT-UF games the two seasons prior knows full well that the truly lucky ones were the Gators who barely escaped the Vols by 1 point.

    • Don’t try and bring logic to SDS.

    • I didn’t realize going a decade without losing to a team was lucky

      A hail mary is lucky D:<

      • Not if you practice the play weekly, called being prepared for every situation.

        I find it funny how Georgia almost wins at the end of the game with their own deep pass, but as soon as Tennessee hits a long pass it’s just lucky.

        What was lucky is Hurd trotting into the endzone and Georgia knocking the ball loose from his hands at the last second, would have made the scores at the end a moot point.

    • This.

      That was not luck, that was taking over. Tennessee had driven the ball the entire game, Florida was lucky they had kept us out as long as they did. Go back on youtube and watch the game.

    • No Sh*t. If the UT v Fla game was another quarter longer Tennessee would have won by 4 touchdowns. Trolling by the author.

  • Yet another crummy, half-assed effort on behalf of one of the SDS “B Team.” Does this guy even know SEC football??

    To characterize the Tennessee win over Florida as “lucky” is just laughable. The Vols put an absolute beatdown on the Gators reminiscent of what the Gators did to us in the 90s. From the 2nd quarter on, Tennessee put the smack down on both sides of the ball; while the offense was busy scoring TDs, the defense didn’t allow a first down until midway through the 4th quarter via 5 three-and-outs.

    That’s not even approaching luck. That’s dominance.

  • Idk ab State losing to LSU. It could definitely happen no doubt about it, but with it being that early in the season and it’s LSU’s 1st true road game. I’ll take State in a close game on that one.

  • “The defending champ didn’t become the champ by losing at home.”—correct, they became the champ because of deshaun Watson who they’ve now lost, along with alot of other key players.

  • Anyone else ready for Alabama to dominate the SEC again? Cause we are and it never gets old

    • For a team to lose with 5*’s three deep at multiple positions would make them incompetent. Please enjoy the lack of parity in your season.

      • And you enjoy knowing Mizzou will never win the S.E.C. or anything of importance for that matter.

        • “, said blsd, whose strategy is to embarrass himself with his name so completely that his ideas will be a smaller target

        • My comment wasn’t an insult sabandonglicker (that was). If I were a bama fan and the team didn’t go undefeated I would view the season as a failure. When you have CLEARLY the best widgets (as defined by recruiting class and HC) anything less than a perfect product would be unacceptable. The only thing Alabama lacks is humble fans; instead they have you.

      • and yet AL lost to Clemson who barely won five of their games, meaning you can just about count the margin on one hand. Pitt, NCstate, FLstate, Lullville, TROY, aaahburn. A successful season is out there waiting for the boys and staff who are physically and mentally ready and committed. If you don’t believe this watch the difference between the way a team plays a rival vs. a game with less interest. You readers were all 20 year olds once, you know how hard it was to have a great semester…. 8 times in a row.

        • Idk where you have been but college football has been Bama stomping grounds for all of the 2010s

    • Most of us don’t mind Bama’s dominating play so much, but what really does get old is boring fans like you. It’s odd, very Bama fan I know in person is awesome, but most of the ones on this board are barely tolerable at best.

  • I disagree with the first three projected losses. I think Arkansas will beat the Aggies, Auburn will beat Clemson, and LSU will beat UF. Of those, I am have the least amount of confidence in my Tigers, but I still think they will win that one.

  • I think it’s funny you say Clemson didn’t become a champ by losing at home….but they did…to Pittsburgh haha!

  • It’s an interesting guessing game but 50% will be wrong.

  • You’re smoking a glass pipe if you think we will lose to Kentucky this year! They have a great sophomore RB in snell , but i feel like our offense will have too much firepower for there defense. And we will be able to slow there offense down enough to out score them. My final is 28-17

  • It’s not Bama hate, but I really think FSU beats Bama week 1. Francois is a legit Heisman candidate and Bama has a ton of turnover on staff.

    • I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Bama dropped the opener. FSU should be legit. It’s gonna be a fun one I think.

    • Florida State and Southern Cal are the two most overrated team sports coming into This season. Give me Jalen Hurts, Jarrett Stidham, Jacob Eason, or Shae Patterson over the two starting QB’s mentioned above.

      • I’ve watched all of them play, and I would take Francois over any of them. He’s Watson 2.0. Stidham could be great, but not proven. Eason, Patterson, and Hurts couldn’t hold Francois’s jock strap.

    • You have sound logic in taking FSU over Bama in Week 1. Here’s some more sound logic: What happens when bets aren’t in Alabama’s favor? The score ends up being 49 to 10… Alabama.

      • If there’s one team of which is the most risky to bet against, it’s Alabama. I’m not saying they can’t be beaten, I’m just saying, it’s like shooting in the dark. Everyone knows that.

  • It should be another tight one against LSU regardless of how it goes and I don’t think any State fan is particularly scared of Georgia (not saying State will win, just that it should be a good game). State and Auburn games tend to be weird so I’m not gonna try calling that one.

  • Easily the hardest game on our schedule, but you make it sound as if Bama doesn’t have 2 Grossman contenders of their own in the same backfield or the fact that we will probably once again have a top 3 defense. Not to mention the secondary is the strong suit My opinion is FSU does well in what Bama does really well. Think FSUs secondary will give the passing game some trouble but when you have the backfield Bama does stopping the pass shouldn’t be your first concern

    • *Heisman stupid iPhone

    • FSU’s defense is very suspect. That would be the biggest advantage for Bama. FSU’s offense is going to be lethal. Jimbo having months to prepare for a very aggressive Pruitt defense (with whom he is very familiar) should give Bama’s secondary fits. I think it will be a high scoring game.

  • Say what you want about Sumlin, but he usually has the team ready to play for first P5 game each season since becoming Aggie head coach. He gave two very good teams in 2012 gators and 2013 bama all they could handle in very close losses. Then wins against USCe, Arizona State, and UCLA. If Chief can get pressure on Rosen early and often, I like our chances.

  • I would like to take this time to personally laugh at Ole Miss. Hahaha You guys cheated and couldn’t even get any sort of championship out of it hahaha. Also, I hope you keep your wins as a reminder of what could have been, but never really was

    • More proof of that great fan humility…

    • You must be pretty young if you find it amusing because before Saban, that was us, only the Rebs didn’t “earn” the distinction of having their violations called “the worst the NCAA has ever seen,” and they were never in danger of receiving the death penalty like we were. Bama cheated – A LOT – through the Stallings’ exodus and Saban’s arrival and we have exactly ZERO championships to show for it so I’m not sure how you can rightfully laugh at the Rebs now. It’s soooo NOT funny when tons of fans suffer because of the decisions made by a select few.

      • Alas! Humble ‘bama fans do exist! I hope the millennial gets offended and fires back at you, to which you crush him with more facts.

        • Well buster you’re wrong. I’m not going to fire back because thats something you would do. And I would not find it wise to follow in the footsteps of someone who has the brain capacity that you possess. Have a nice day

        • Uh, your reply is totally firing back. Maybe not aimed at him, but it’s definitely firing back. Why is it that you f*cking retards refuse to accept facts? Rolltideluvsaban just popped you on your butt and sent you to your room. No wonder you’re pouting. Also, you’re firing back because you are, indeed, young and have no clue what he’s talking about. All you know is he’s right, you’re wrong, and you don’t have the spine to accept it. I’m having a great day, by the way. Just bought a hat that I’ve wanted for a long time.

        • Well I didn’t mean it in a bad way, so I hope he isn’t offended at all. A say, 20 year old (or younger) Bama fan naturally wouldn’t remember much before Saban, but I do, and our younger fans need to remember too, or at least be made aware of how far Bama had fallen in the decade prior to Saban’s arrival if they’re ever going to fully appreciate what Saban has done at Alabama. There aren’t enough words to describe how great things are now and there weren’t enough words to describe how bad things were back then. It’s hard to believe that a Bama fan that actually experienced those times would laugh at anyone else going through the same thing which is why I doubt Bama here did. I did though and I only hope that it blows over more quickly for y’all than it did for us. Good luck sir.

      • I’m not sure what you are trying to say, but your comments read like a troll pretending to be a Bama fan. This wouldn’t be the first time I misread a comment, but that’s how it looks to me.

        • bammer1017 are you even old enough to be potty trained

        • It sounds a lot like Rebel_landsharks to me. Doesn’t it? I remember seeing similar unwitty jabs come from her, of which she thought were so clever.

        • No hun, I’m not a troll, just a chick that loves Bama/SEC fball. It’s not easy to talk about that part of Bama’s history, but we don’t get to totally ignore it either y’know? And our fans shouldn’t be inviting any bad karma by acting like we’ve never been there ourselves. If y’all can get past the chick thing, which shouldn’t be all that unusual to any southern guy because chicks all over the south love fball, then you’ll find at least one Bama fan that you like chatting with since my intentions aren’t to pee on anyone’s parade. I’m almost always pleasant and respectful of others… As long as the subject isn’t Jim Harbaugh because the gloves come off for that clown. Lol

  • If LSU offense is really good this year, passing wise, then only team I see them losing to is Bama. Hopefully Matt Canada can successfully give new life to a one-dimensional offense in recent years.

    • Interesting you didn’t mention your defense.

      • As long as Dave Aranda is the D-Coordinator at LSU, that defense gonna be one of the best in country every year. Its up to the offense on how far LSU goes in the season.

      • I’m concerned with the youth. Ought to be fine towards the second half of the year, they have the athletes. Just not sure how good our defense will be early.

        • That’s the answer I was looking for. There is every reason for LSU fans to be excited with the offense finally cooking, but the early part of the season will be what they need to overcome as the defense ‘grows up’ so to speak. If they can get through their first 4-5 games without a loss they should be a heavy contender the remainder of the season.

  • It looked like the Vols got lucky last year against Florida? Lol what? Did you watch the same game? Vols shot themselves in the foot offensively in the first half, and were slow defensively. Without dropping so many balls, they put up at least 14 in the first half. Then they absolutely destroyed the Gators. How is that luck? They played better for 60 minutes…

  • We will beat UCLA. Rosen is their only star. They will get destroyed by a middle of the pack SEC team. Again. We will lose to Alabama and Florida, probably LSU, and maybe even Arkansas.

    • Don’t forget TA&M’s cursed month of November. There’s a team squeezed into the middle of that month that’s taken Sumlin’s milk money 3 times in a row. And isn’t it an away game against said mystery team this year? I don’t remember who that team is. Whoever it is, Sumlin better bring it.

  • I’m not super confident about LSU this season or anything… but I only counted 3 Miss State fan comments here, and all three seemed to indicate you guys felt pretty good about that one. I’m not hating or talking trash (in fact, Miss State athletics and especially their fans that comment here are probably the most likable adversary in the conference), but why do you guys feel that way? I read that Mullen in better the O, which I think remains to be seen but…. what else makes you guys feel so good about it?

    • I mean I understand the basic logistics whereby we lose a lot of production, and you guys return a lot of production. And I guess it is in Starkville. But LSU led 23-6 with 4 minutes left in the game last year. Some fan made a dumb joke about you guys loving Fitzgerald, but he couldn’t get anything done. Damien Williams came in and threw a couple of long passes for a quick TD, onside kick, quick TD. I guess I’m just saying that I’m not surprised a Les Miles offense with an injured Fournette didn’t score in the second half, but I’m not sure if State is ready to compete strictly from a talent standpoint. Of course, anything can happen and their both good programs, but just in terms of betting/predicting, would you guys really take State over LSU this year?

      • Fitz is improved, the defense should be better, the offense as a whole should be improved (provided that the receivers still don’t constantly drop passes), the game is in Starkville, etc etc. I’ll have to see the first two games of State’s season before I’m truthfully able to make any kind of prediction obviously but right now I don’t see why it’d be unreasonable to think State could take it.

    • is better than O* they’re* wow, edit button please.

      • To be honest, last years game against Miss. St. wasn’t suppose to be close, but since Les Miles was so terrible at second half coaching , it came down to the wire to win the game. As for 2015, I can understand that game being close with respect to Miss. St. fighting back into the game. I got LSU winning this year, I don’t know if its going to be a blowout or close game, Im just gonna have to see come game time.

        • yea agreed. I think that State was a better team in 2015 and we weren’t as good as this past team. That game was really really close, and I’d venture to say we didn’t look like a better team in that game. Obviously we weren’t even close to “the better team” in 2014. But when I look at last year and this coming year, I just don’t see as much talent and experience as State had in ’14 and ’15…. I thought last year the comeback was kind of a farce. Hate to sound disrespectful. but I am curious to hear what the state fans can say about why they feel good about it. Coozie especially usually makes very calm, reasonable, rational, well supported arguments without getting upset that someone disagrees.

        • I appreciate that, rarereasonable. Same to you. I honestly don’t know where the comeback in 2016 came from, everything in that game said we should have lost by a lot more than we did. To me it seemed kind of like the ending of the 2014 game when State let LSU bring it close again when it really hadn’t been for the rest of the game.

        • exactly. ’14 was fun and all, gave us all a lot of false hope in Brandon harris lol, but there was never really any way we were gonna win. It was 3 meaningless 4th qrter touchdowns ya know? We got our butts KICKED and the final didn’t really reflect that

  • So Tennessee beating Florida last year was luck. Funny the Gators didn’t seem to think so.

  • lol at the “Tennessee got lucky” bit. Outscoring your opponent 35-7 in the second half is most certainly not lucky. and being anywhere remotely close in total yards is generally an indicator of a good game. Tennessee outgained Florida. That’s how you win usually. But Florida gets the nod versus LSU basically on the premise of “they did it last year”. Weird that you didn’t call that one “lucky” considering the fact they got outgained by 150 yards, their only touchdown was a 98 yard pass, Guice fumbled on the 7, we had a botched fg hold on the 2, jackson fumbles a kickoff return by running into his own player (Fla gets ball in redzone), and Guice getting stopped on the 1 ~~~ LSU beat themselves. But idk, I guess if you back into an “East championship” and get beat down by 38 pts and lose most of your defense anyway you get some points for predictions the next season. pft.

  • I got Auburn beating Clemson, and going undefeated til the LSU game. I really really really wanna see a top 5 or 10 rank Auburn team playing against LSU in Baton Rouge, night game of course.

  • I don’t think Joe Cox watched any SEC games last year he is probably a Buckeye fan in disguise.

  • 3 x Michigan game having anything to do with SEC East….who fact checks this stuff….anyway I believe this is the 1st time Florida has played an out of conference game, out of the state of Florida since 1991 when traveled to Syracuse and lost.