Predicting the biggest SEC upset of each week in 2020
On any given Saturday, anything can happen. That’s pretty much the modus operandi of college football, and 2020 (particularly given all the preseason craziness) stands to be no different.
We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve here at SDS, so we’re taking a shot at forecasting the biggest SEC upsets of each week of the schedule.
No, we probably won’t go 11-for-11 — and we’re not taking the easy way out and calling a bunch of pick ’em games. These are the biggest (realistic) upset possibilities of each SEC week. History suggests that a fair number of them actually will pan out.
Week 1: Kentucky over Auburn
The point spreads are out there, and at the end of the day, plenty of these games look pretty foolproof for the favorites. Alabama, LSU and Georgia aren’t going anywhere. On the other hand, Tennessee at South Carolina is basically a pick ’em game. The games that have meaningful upset potential are Ole Miss hosting Florida, and Kentucky going to Auburn. Of the 2 underdogs, Kentucky has the better chance at playing spoiler in Week 1.
Week 2: Missouri over Tennessee
The Vols are one of the teams that got the short end of the SEC scheduling stick, and a dogfight in Week 1 could leave them overconfident when Missouri comes to town. Some of the other possibilities didn’t look great this week — don’t see A&M over Bama or Auburn over Georgia. Kentucky could fall victim to a down week after upsetting Auburn and lose to Ole Miss, but I like Mizzou’s opportunity a little better.
Week 3: Florida over Texas A&M
Texas A&M is a slight favorite according to ESPN’s FPI, primarily because the game is at College Station. The Gators might be the best team in the East, and getting the Aggies a week after they play Alabama bodes well for a road upset. This won’t be a huge upset, but plenty of the big dogs aren’t very vulnerable this particular week, so Florida is the big (and perhaps only) upset. A mild one, but we’ll take it.
Week 4: Georgia over Alabama
This might be the most competitive week of the SEC schedule. There are plenty of games with upset potential — Kentucky/Tennessee and LSU/Florida both drew some consideration. But if Alabama is going to stumble, it could well be here — and the Bulldogs will likely be a touchdown or so underdog on the road. Could Alabama really lose a home SEC game in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2011-12? Is this finally the game where one of Nick’s disciples takes him down?
Week 5: Ole Miss over Auburn
On the other hand, there are only 5 games this week, and some of them look destined to be blowouts … 3 preseason top-10 teams face unranked opponents who would be massive longshots. That includes Kentucky vs. Georgia. (Georgia has won 10 straight in that series, the past 3 by double digits.) The only other possibility is Alabama vs. Tennessee. Given these choices, Auburn does have to play on the road and this feels like the kind of surprise win that Lane Kiffin pulls off sometime in 2020.
Week 6: Auburn over LSU
Calm down, Auburn fans. Yes, I do have you losing to Kentucky and Ole Miss. And beating LSU. Once again, it’s a short slate in Week 6, and most of these games are just flat no-gos. LSU has to play at Auburn, and as Auburn has shown in recent seasons, when its back is to the wall, it tends to respond well.
Week 7: South Carolina over Texas A&M
There are only 4 games this week, and Florida vs. Georgia is almost always a near pick ’em game (even though the Dawgs have won the past 3 by an average margin of 20.3). Arkansas is not going to beat Tennessee and Vandy, which is at Mississippi State, might not beat anybody. That leaves South Carolina pulling off Will Muschamp’s annual “How did THAT happen?” game in a home win over A&M. Right now, FPI gives the Gamecocks a 34.3% chance of making that happen.
Week 8: South Carolina over Ole Miss
Two in a row? Well, again, there are plenty of games that just aren’t on the upset radar. Georgia at Mizzou and Florida vs. Arkansas just don’t sound like good ideas. While I’m down on A&M a little, I’m not down enough that I think they lose at Tennessee. In the same way that Lane Kiffin got the call for a big upset in Week 5, he seems like a reasonable candidate to lose a game that he shouldn’t — like this one. FPI likes the Gamecocks’ chances only slightly more this time, at 37.5%.
Week 9: Missouri over South Carolina
Look, Carolina’s going to play a lot of games that are going to be 1-score games, up or down. In the meanwhile, it’s hard to say games like Alabama vs. Kentucky or Georgia vs. Mississippi State would rank too high in upset potential. So Mizzou grabs a mild upset in this one, which takes the upset of the week honors.
Week 10: Texas A&M over LSU
Yes, there was the temptation to take Auburn over Alabama (again) in the Iron Bowl. But honestly, this game makes much more sense. Auburn hasn’t beaten Nick Saban in back-to-back seasons since, well, ever. Saban has lost to the Tigers 5 times. The first 4 times, Alabama won the following year by 36, 38, 11 and 31. And Auburn has to play at Bama, where it hasn’t won since the “Camback” in 2010, while LSU has to go to College Station. The Aggies might well have a fairly tough season, but LSU will likely have its own share of national title hangover issues. The marquee upset of Week 10 is in Texas, not Alabama.
Week 11: Tennessee over Florida
While the Gators are perhaps the most talented team in the East, they’re mailing it in by this point, as UGA drew the better schedule and will have wrapped up the East. Meanwhile, Florida has to play an early December game in Knoxville. UT figures to be hanging around .500, it’ll be dreary and ugly weather, and this could make UT’s season. Unless Arkansas manages to take down Alabama (yes, just joking), UT pulls the shocker of the week.