I was listening to “The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny” the other day (the podcast with the best theme song this side of the SDS Podcast, FYI) and really enjoyed the second-annual team draft with Mike Golic Jr.

Basically, Kimes and Golic took turns picking each of the 32 NFL teams, building a squad to compete against the other’s group for the 2020 season. For example, every time a team they pick wins a regular-season game, they get 1 point. Make the playoffs? That was 5 points or something (I haven’t gone back and listened again). Super Bowl appearance? That’s 25 points.

That got me wondering how it would look if SDS senior columnist Connor O’Gara and I did a mock draft of the 14 SEC teams, 15 ACC teams (including Notre Dame) and 10 Big 12 teams that are playing this fall (sorry, Big Ten and Pac-12 fans). That’s 39 teams, so we decided to each pick 19 teams for our hypothetical squad, leaving out 1 of the 39 (I’ll leave you in suspense guessing which team that will be).

I created a scoring system that looks like this:

  • 1 point for each regular-season win
  • 3 points for making a bowl game
  • 3 points for winning a bowl game
  • 5 points for appearing in conference title game
  • 10 points for winning conference title game
  • 10 points for making the College Football Playoff
  • 10 points for winning the national championship

Being a gentleman, I gave Connor the first pick. (Don’t worry, we’re doing a snake draft, so that means I got picks No. 2 and No. 3. Then he got picks No. 4 and No. 5, and so on.)

And, to make things interesting, we made a bet on the results. After Vanderbilt RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn outperformed Mizzou RB Larry Rountree III last season, I (a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan from Illinois) was supposed to wear a Chicago Cubs shirt at SEC Media Days this year. Well, obviously, that didn’t happen.

So this time, Connor (a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan from Illinois) proposed a virtual option. If he wins, I have to change my SDS avatar to a Chicago Cubs image/player/whatever for a week. If I win, he has to do the same thing, but with a St. Louis Cardinals image/player/whatever.

Needless to say, the stakes are high. So, here’s how our team draft ended up going:

1. Clemson

Siri, show me “automatic No. 1 pick.” Oh, it’s Clemson? Of course it’s Clemson, AKA the team that returns the best quarterback in college football and is 38-2 in ACC play with 5 consecutive conference titles and Playoff appearances since 2015. It’s not even close who has the clearest path to make the College Football Playoff, which you absolutely need from your No. 1 overall pick to have a chance. — Connor O’Gara

2. Alabama

I figured you’d take Clemson No. 1, and I don’t blame you. They are clearly the best team in the ACC and it isn’t close. I will take Alabama here and smile. Simply put, I think the Crimson Tide are going to go undefeated this year. Yes, that 10-game SEC schedule will be daunting, but the Tide are the cream of the crop. They have Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Alex Leatherwood returning to headline the offense, and potential first-round picks like CB Patrick Surtain II, LB Dylan Moses and DL Christian Barmore all over the defense. After missing out on the Playoff for the first time last year, coach Nick Saban and Co. will be hungry to get back. I’m pretty confident I’ll be getting the conference title game and Playoff bonuses from the Tide. — Adam Spencer

3. Oklahoma

I am a bit worried about taking the Sooners so high, but I do consider them the most likely team to make the Playoff from the Big 12. Yes, they lost top RB Kennedy Brooks, who opted out of the season, and have a talented-but-inexperienced quarterback in Spencer Rattler, but I believe in coach Lincoln Riley. The offensive line should be strong, and that’s a good thing for any offense. If Rattler shows he’s the guy for the job early, the Sooners are still the team to beat in the Big 12. — AS

4. Georgia

Here’s the thing. I think Florida has a legitimate shot to win the division. It won’t surprise me if the streak ends this year. But despite all of Georgia’s question marks on offense, we’re still talking about a team that averaged 12 wins and 7 conference wins in each of the past 3 seasons, all of which included an SEC Championship berth. In my first couple of picks, I need the teams with the absolute highest floors. Georgia, even if it might be as vulnerable as it has been to a potential Florida loss since 2016, is still the team I know is going to be in the hunt. — CO

5. LSU

It’s not often that the defending national champs come off the board at No. 5 in a draft like this, but I’ll gladly take Ed Orgeron, who’s been more successful against top-10 foes the past 2 years than anyone in America. LSU knows what it means to play a battle-tested schedule. Regression is inevitable with that much attrition. But Steve Ensminger is still going to have plenty of success leading that offense in a post-Joe Brady world. The Tigers are still Alabama’s biggest potential SEC hurdle. — CO

6. Florida

Allow me to quickly scoop up the other SEC contender in this spot. Kyle Trask might be the best returning quarterback in the SEC, and Kyle Pitts is my top tight end in the nation. I’m a bit concerned about guys like Kadarius Toney, Jacob Copeland and Trevon Grimes flirting with the idea of opting out (I wouldn’t fault them if they did, but it would really hurt the receiving corps). Still, I think this team has the talent across the board to challenge Georgia for the SEC East title. If they do pull off the upset in the Cocktail Party and take care of business elsewhere on their schedule, I’ll happily take the handful of points they’ll get me for making the SEC title game. — AS

7. Texas

Just in case the Sooners aren’t still the team to beat in the Big 12 (as I mentioned above), this is me hedging my bets. I do like the value the Longhorns provide here, though. QB Sam Ehlinger is a solid pick to be the Big 12 offensive player of the year. If the running game, which returns Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson, takes a step forward, this team is a Big 12 title contender. I also think the Longhorns’ defense has a chance to be the best defense in the conference. — AS

8. Notre Dame

Do people realize that the Irish averaged 11 wins and finished in the top 12 of the AP Top 25 each of the past 3 years? Do people also realize that Ian Book still has eligibility? Well, they should. The masses would love to see the Irish tank in the program’s first year in an actual conference, but I wouldn’t bet on that. Remember that Miami blowout in 2017? Since then, the Irish won 10 consecutive regular-season games against ACC opponents. So what if they aren’t on Clemson’s level? I’ll gladly take a 9-1 or 8-2 regular season from Brian Kelly’s squad. — CO

9. Iowa State

I think this is my first non-chalky pick. The past few months, I’ve been saying that Iowa State is my “we’re gonna look up at the end of the regular season and wonder how Iowa State is in the Playoff” team. A well-coached, extremely experienced team on both sides of the ball returns Brock Purdy at quarterback and preseason All-American TE Charlie Kolar. Matt Campbell already beat the likes of Lincoln Riley, Tom Herman and Mike Gundy. I’m also wondering about some potential regression to the mean with close losses. All 5 regular-season losses last year came by 10 points or fewer. Don’t rule out a potential 7-win regular season in Ames (that’s better than it sounds this year). — CO

10. Oklahoma State

Chuba Hubbard. Tylan Wallace. Spencer Sanders. Braydon Johnson. Dillon Stoner. This offense is absolutely loaded. How often do we say that about Mike Gundy-coached teams? Pretty much every year, it seems. The Cowboys get to start the year against West Virginia and Kansas, too, so that’s about as easy as it gets against the Big 12. If the defense can hold opponents under 40 points more often than not this year, I think this is easily a 7- or 8-win team. I even recently went on the record and said this is the Big 12’s darkhorse Playoff contender. — AS

11. North Carolina

Honestly, I’m surprised the Fighting Mack Browns are still on the board here. I love QB Sam Howell. Now that USC QB Kedon Slovis won’t be playing, I think Howell takes the “dark-horse Heisman candidate” spot in my heart. RB Michael Carter (a 1,000-yard rusher in 2019) is back. WRs Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome had more than 1,000 receiving yards and at least 10 touchdowns last year, and they’re back. Yeah, this offense is absolutely loaded. Add in LB Chazz Surratt, who is one of the most underrated players in the country, and 5-star freshman CB Tony Grimes, who reclassified from the 2021 class, and the defense should be formidable, too. I like the Tar Heels as the No. 2 team in the ACC behind Clemson. — AS

12. Louisville

Baaaahhhhhhh how dare you steal North Carolina? I’ll instead settle for the other ACC bandwagon that I’m hopping on. Scott Satterfield worked wonders with the Cardinals in Year 1. To go from a 2-win team to a 8-win squad with a winning ACC record was a testament to the job the first-year coach did. Micale Cunningham was plenty effective once he took over as the full-time starter. He’s my “best quarterback who no one is talking about” leader in the clubhouse. The defense needs to improve, but I’ll give Cardinals a legitimate shot to stay in the hunt to earn an ACC Championship berth. — CO

13. Texas A&M

I definitely didn’t think I’d end up with the Aggies because I’ve been shouting at anyone who will listen about how much strength of schedule shouldn’t determine preseason rankings. And while it terrifies me that they struggled so much against elite competition last year — they led for 7 minutes and 42 seconds of the 300 minutes of football they played against teams who finished in the top 15 (!) — I’ll roll the dice on Year 3 of the Jimbo Fisher era. I trust Mike Elko to continue to improve that defense, and I believe A&M is finally in position to hang with elite foes at the line of scrimmage. — CO

14. Baylor

The Bears are undergoing a transition at head coach, as Matt Rhule is now with the Carolina Panthers. However, former LSU DC Dave Aranda doesn’t exactly take over a program with an empty cupboard. QB Charlie Brewer is a playmaker when healthy. Tyquan Thornton looks ready to take over as WR1 for Denzel Mims. LB Terrell Bernard is a tackling machine. This team is definitely going to win a few games. — AS

15. Tennessee

I love the way the Vols bounced back from a couple of embarrassing early losses last year. This year, they’ll need to keep the momentum going. I actually like the way the schedule shapes up for them. Starting at South Carolina and vs. Mizzou isn’t the toughest 2-game stretch. Yes, the Vols have to play Alabama, Georgia and Florida as always, but they get to end the year at home against the Gators. The Vols will be coming off a game against Vanderbilt, while the Gators will have just played a much tougher Kentucky team. I think the Vols are easily a 6- or 7-win team. — AS

16. Virginia Tech

I wonder what that defense will look like in a post-Bud Foster world, especially after elite prospect Caleb Farley opted out of the 2020 season. But I think Justin Fuente righted the ship after some major midseason questions in Blacksburg (that 35-point home loss to Duke was one of the most baffling of the entire season). I have no idea what sort of homefield advantage we’ll be present this year. Will that impact the Hokies’ upside? Perhaps, but a team loaded with experience (No. 6 in FBS pre-Farley opt-out) who averaged 8 wins under Fuente has a sneaky shot to make its first conference title game in 4 years. — CO

17. Kentucky

I know I’m gonna take some heat for going with Kentucky over Auburn here, but hear me out. Even with the loss of Lynn Bowden from last year’s 8-win team, the Cats should be just as productive on the ground with a trio of proven tailbacks returning behind an elite offensive line that brings back 4 starters. That defense, which ranked No. 127 in percentage of returning defensive production last year, finished with a top-15 unit. This year, they have experience back at every level. It should be Mark Stoops’ defense best yet. The key is Terry Wilson staying healthy. The Cats are in for another year of surprising the college football world. — CO

18. Auburn

I know you love you some Terry Wilson, Connor, so I’m not surprised with that pick. That said, I’m happy the Tigers fell to me in this spot. I think Bo Nix takes too much heat for his up-and-down performance last year. He was a true freshman! WR Seth Williams is a star. Anthony Schwartz is one of the fastest people on the planet. New OC Chad Morris is better as a coordinator than he was as a head coach. If he can help Nix improve and be more consistent, the Tigers could be a surprise contender in the SEC West. With Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and some of those defensive line stars off to the NFL, it’s going to be K.J. Britt’s time to shine. He had 68 tackles last year, but I expect much more from him in 2020. — AS

19. TCU

This is the part of the draft where I’m just going to start taking flyers on teams, particularly those that have quarterbacks I like. Max Duggan is a true dual-threat guy who played really well as a freshman last year. Defensively, they return their top 3 tacklers from 2019, including star LB Garret Wallow. I trust Gary Patterson defenses. This could be a surprise team in the Big 12. — AS

20. Kansas State

My biggest mistake of this draft was waiting so long to take another Big 12 team. I mean, I sort of just assume that Oklahoma will win the league yet again, only to fail massively in the Playoff. But sure, I have no problem rolling with a Power 5 team who had a first-year coach win 8 regular-season games, including the stunner against Oklahoma. It has been an especially weird offseason in Manhattan, which is saying something considering the circumstances everyone is dealing with. I’d gladly take 6 regular season wins and a bowl victory. — CO

21. Miami

“The U” suffered a major loss with the opt-out of Gregory Rousseau, but the Canes still added one of the top signal-callers in the country in D’Eriq King. If what we saw from him at Houston was any indication, he’ll light up ACC scoreboards in no time. The offensive line is a major question mark, but I like the idea of Rhett Lashlee taking over that offense. That should be a solid combination worthy of beating a team or 2 that it shouldn’t. — CO

22. Wake Forest

Losing QB Jamie Newman to Georgia will hurt, but this team does have a lot of talent returning to the field. There’s some experience returning in the backfield with Kenneth Walker III and Christian Beal-Smith. Redshirt sophomore Sam Hartman is the projected starter at quarterback, and he got a bit of action as Newman’s backup last year. With the talent around him, I think he’ll be fine and the Demon Deacons will win a few ACC games this year. (NOTE: I made this pick before WR Sage Surratt opted out. I have regrets.) — AS

23. Virginia

Starting at Virginia Tech and then playing at Clemson after an off week isn’t the easiest start to the season. But, from there, the schedule gets much more manageable for the Cavaliers. I really like Mississippi State transfer QB Keytaon Thompson and all 3 of their leading tacklers from last year are back. Keep an eye on LB Zane Zandier. He had 108 tackles and 5 sacks last season. He’ll be a problem for offenses in 2020. — AS

24. Florida State

It’s slim pickings down here. What does it say about the state of FSU that it took 24 picks in a draft of 3 Power 5 leagues for it to finally come off the board? A lot. An offense that was a disaster under Willie Taggart should get somewhat of a boost under Mike Norvell, though I’m not sold that the Seminoles are about to make that big of a jump in Year 1. The good news is that Marvin Wilson and Asante Samuel Jr. returned to lead what should be a vastly improved defense. Five regular season wins is about all I’ll hope for in Tallahassee. — CO

25. Pitt

There’s something fun about betting on Pat Narduzzi. It feels like he’s got the exact same confident mindset regardless of how good his team his. Sure, the offense was dreadful last year and Pitt only got to 8 wins via a Quick Lane Bowl against Eastern Michigan that roughly 14 Pitt fans/non-gamblers watched. Still, this feels like nice value for a team coming off an 8-win season who returned 69% of its 2019 production. — CO

26. Mizzou

Boom! As a Mizzou grad, there was no way I was going to let Connor take my Tigers. This might be a tad high for a team with a new quarterback (Shawn Robinson or Connor Bazelak, most likely), new head coach (Eliah Drinkwitz) and an absolutely brutal schedule (Alabama in Week 1, anyone?), but I think the Tigers are going to be competitive this year. I don’t expect them to compete with the elite teams in the SEC like Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU, but I think they could win 4 or 5 games and snag a spot in a bowl game, which would earn me some points. — AS

27. Duke

The Blue Devils will have to break in a new quarterback this year (probably Chris Katrenick). I am not overly worried about that because I think David Cutcliffe is one of the best quarterback whisperers in football. He did work with both Mannings, after all. Deon Jackson is back to lead the running game, and keep an eye on sophomore WR Jalon Calhoun — I think he’s underrated. Replacing top 2 tacklers Koby Quansah and Dylan Singleton on defense won’t be easy, but 3-5 wins is possible for the Blue Devils. — AS

28. Mississippi State

If you’re wondering why a program that’s done nothing but make bowl games in the last decade lasted this long, think about this. A mediocre defense has major production missing after its second consecutive year of major NFL Draft losses. Mike Leach’s teams aren’t exactly known for elite defenses. In a division with so many good offensive minds, that’s troubling. But K.J. Costello should still throw for a whole mess of yards and Kylin Hill is one of the nation’s top returning tailbacks. — CO

29. West Virginia

I think when we get down to this area, 4 wins is the goal and 5 wins is a home run. I’m banking on seeing improvement in Year 2 of the Neal Brown era after he had all sorts of roster turnover last year. There’s no way that ground game can be that bad again. With 4 starters back on the offensive line, Brown’s identity should be much more apparent on offense. — CO

30. Ole Miss

This feels like a steal. I absolutely love watching John Rhys Plumlee play and I really think the Rebels are going to pull off at least 1 big upset this fall. In fact, with a Week 1 home game against Florida, don’t be surprised to see the Lane Kiffin era get off to a hot start with a win against the Gators. — AS

31. Texas Tech

I like QB Alan Bowman a lot, even though he’s had some rough injury luck in the past. Then there’s WR T.J. Vasher, who I think can be a superstar. Top rusher SaRodorick Thompson is also back in the mix. (Does it seem like I’m talking mostly offense with these Big 12 teams? Welcome to the Big 12, baby!) LB Riko Jeffers will need to step up in a big way for Matt Wells’ squad, as the defense lost LB Jordyn Brooks (the Seattle Seahawks’ first-round draft pick) and 2019 Power 5 interceptions leader Douglas Coleman III (who had 8 picks). If I can get 3 or 4 wins down here at No. 31, though, I’m happy. — AS

32. Syracuse

This is pretty easy for me to justify. Dino Babers is too good of a coach for his team to be as bad as it was last year. Who knows what to expect from the Orange this year after a fall camp the started with dozens of players not showing up. Troubling already was the fact that Syracuse returned just 41% of its defensive production, and it’s a schedule that features Clemson, Notre Dame, UNC and Louisville, who could easily be the 4 best teams in the ACC. — CO

33. South Carolina

I sold myself on the Gamecocks overachieving because they already knew they had a daunting schedule. In fact, it might have gotten a touch more manageable without Clemson. At least that’s not an automatic loss. This is all about whether Mike Bobo can transform that offense and do something that offensive coordinators always seem to struggle with under Will Muschamp. Could a season of him on the hot seat allow the Gamecocks to overachieve? Who knows. Even South Carolina fans know that 4-6 would be a respectable season with that slate. — CO

34. NC State

I honestly have no idea what to expect from the Wolfpack this year. Who will their quarterback be? Devin Leary, probably? Can Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston take steps forward in the running game? Perhaps! Can anyone on the defense finish with more than 69 tackles this year? I hope so! They don’t have to play Clemson this year, so at least that’s something. — AS

35. Arkansas

This seems like a decent spot for Arkansas to go. I like Feleipe Franks, the graduate transfer quarterback from Florida. I also like new head coach Sam Pittman and new OC Kendal Briles. And, while Barry Odom didn’t work out as head coach for my Missouri Tigers, his defenses were always good. The Razorbacks have nowhere to go but up, so I’ll buy low on them. — AS

36. Georgia Tech

It wasn’t until right just now when I was left with Georgia Tech, Boston College, Kansas or Vanderbilt that I realized I ended up with a boatload of ACC teams. After my next pick (spoiler alert), I’ll be at 10 ACC teams. I justified that by telling myself it was the easiest conference to pile on wins. Now, I’ll say 1 nice thing about a 3-win Georgia Tech team. With Northwestern not playing football in 2020, that means the Yellow Jackets have a higher percentage of returning production of any active FBS team! Yay! — CO

37. Boston College

I know that there’s a new era at BC with Jeff Hafley on board, and the loss of A.J. Dillon hurts. A lot. But this is my last pick of the entire draft. I’ll gladly take a team who won 6 games last year over the likes of Kansas and Vandy. I’m gonna sell myself on Hafley inheriting a defense that returns a ton of production and bringing some of the same defensive prowess that made him so coveted as Ohio State’s 1-year DC. And if Notre Dame quarterback transfer Phil Jurkovec can surprise a couple teams, I won’t complain about multiple wins at this spot. — CO

38. Kansas

Man, I really didn’t want it to come to this. But, if I’m putting my Mizzou bias aside and picking whether I think Kansas or Vanderbilt is more likely to win a game in 2020, I have to go with the Jayhawks. I’m not happy about it, but with Vandy’s quarterback situation and a few key players opting out, I think the Commodores have 0-10 written all over them in 2020. We’ll see if the Jayhawks can pull off an upset along the way (hopefully of one of the Big 12 teams Connor drafted). — AS

Well, that’s that. We’ll see how our 19-team squads fare as the season goes on. Go, Team Adam!