Predicting when every SEC team loses its first game in 2020
No preseason, no Week 1 cupcakes. It’s just 10 games of SEC on SEC football in 2020. The bad news is that half of the SEC will have a loss in Week 1. Like the negative Nellys we sometimes are, we break down that newly-released schedule … and predict when your team will take its first L.
Week 1: Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Ole Miss, South Carolina
OK, some of these feel like no-brainers. Vandy gets crushed by A&M. State and Mizzou don’t have the firepower to keep up with Alabama and LSU. Arkansas similarly is overwhelmed by Georgia.
The last 3 get interesting. The Rebels host Florida, but the Gators look like a solid pick. Kentucky could well have enough in the tank to pull the upset at Auburn, but the Tigers usually open the season strong. Lastly, Carolina hosting Tennessee feels like a coin toss, but given COVID defections, we’ll give a fingernail advantage to the Vols.
Week 2: Texas A&M, Auburn
The Aggies go from home against Vandy to at Alabama in Week 2. Looks like a likely drop-off spot from here.
If Auburn survives UK in Week 1, it won’t get past Georgia in Athens in Week 2. (Meanwhile, if Kentucky pulls the Week 1 upset, the Cats could slide by for a month).
After 2 weeks, that leaves Bama, Florida, Georga, LSU, and Tennessee as the ranks of the undefeated.
Week 3: Tennessee
The Vols might not escape Week 1, but they sure don’t get past a Week 3 trip to Athens.
The much tougher call is Florida at Texas A&M.
Since the Aggies are coming off a trip to Bama, the attrition advantage probably goes to the Gators, so we’ll keep them undefeated for now — along with Bama, Georgia, and LSU.
Week 4: Georgia, Florida
Alabama hosts Georgia in Week 4, and while the Bulldogs have the easiest schedule in the SEC, this looks like the place where they stumble.
Florida hosting LSU is a much tougher call. The advantage went to the Tigers, mostly because Florida is coming off a trip to A&M, while LSU opens with Mississippi State/Vandy/Mizzou.
Accordingly, we’re left with Bama and LSU.
Week 6: LSU
Auburn hosts LSU on Halloween, and for some reason, this feels like a game that LSU overlooks. That would be understandable. The Tigers have an open date the following week and then host Alabama in Week 8. The last team to beat Alabama in back-to-back years was Ole Miss in 2014 and 2015. Everybody has been wondering whether LSU can join that list in 2020.
Auburn, meanwhile, after a tough first 2 games, will have played Arkansas, South Carolina and Mizzou heading into this game. Which should get them healthy and clicking while LSU has played Florida in what will likely be a barn-burner 2 weeks before.
If Auburn upsets LSU, that leaves Alabama as the last team standing. Must mean they win out … wait …
Week 8: Alabama
LSU hosts Bama in Week 8 in what looks like the draw-even in the West revenge game for the Tigers. Both teams come in off a bye week, and the Tigers will pull a minor upset in picking up the victory. They’ll become the most recent team to beat Nick Saban in consecutive years and perhaps join Alabama as the only programs the West to play in back-to-back SEC title games.
Where does all of this leave the SEC?
Do another 9-1 SEC West team get into a CFP field that has no Big Ten or Pac-12 to weigh it down? Will there even be a CFP? Sorry, we’re out of prediction time for this week.