SEC bowl projections after Week 1: So it begins
Alabama and Georgia. Georgia and Alabama.
Until somebody proves otherwise, they are the teams to beat in the SEC, and we open the 2019 SEC bowl projections by predicting that, just like in 2017, they will both make the College Football Playoff.
Defending national champion Clemson also makes the CFP cut, and the guess here is that the Big Ten ends its two-year run of missing the playoff by sending Michigan to the four-team field.
As for first impressions?
Half the SEC looked as dominant as ever in Week 1 of the 2019 season. Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M rolled, Auburn rallied to top a quality opponent and Kentucky and Mississippi State simply got the job done. And Florida took Saturday off after beating Miami the week before.
Vanderbilt gets a pass for losing to Georgia. No shame there, of course, even in Nashville.
The rest of the conference? Hoo boy.
Arkansas did win, though a one-touchdown victory over an FCS program, and not even a good one in Portland State, does not convince me in any way that the Razorbacks are going to rebound from last season’s 2-10 debacle to return to bowl eligibility.
Missouri is not eligible for a bowl at the moment, despite outrage over the Tigers’ bowl ban. Mizzou should win enough in 2019 to become bowl eligible should the NCAA change its mind, but for now we cannot assume an NCAA reversal — and in any event, losing to Wyoming on Saturday does not build a strong case.
Ole Miss is likely to be one of those teams teetering on that 6-6 or 5-7 cusp, so a loss to Memphis is pretty harmful, though the Tigers are a decent program. South Carolina lost to a North Carolina team that went 2-9 in 2018.
And that wasn’t even the SEC’s worst loss to a team coming off a two-win season.
Oh, Vols. Vols, Vols, Vols.
Tennessee was supposed to progress this season. Maybe it still will.
But a defeat at home to Georgia State? Really? It’s one thing for a team from the best FBS conference, the SEC, to lose at home to a team from the worst FBS conference, the Sun Belt.
This is even worse than that. Georgia State was 2-10 last year, so it’s not even a good SBC program. And the Panthers did not win by a fluke: They defeated Tennessee and earned it, enjoying a 15-point lead until a meaningless UT score in the final seconds.
It’s possible for the Vols to bounce back and assemble a decent season, but for now there is no way we can project them into a bowl until we have evidence.
Now, on to our first bowl projections of the season: