It can be thrilling to experience the drama of a college football season, living and dying with every unexpected dramatic victory or shockingly disappointing loss.
Or you can just let me tell you now who’s going to win every game.
At first thought, that may sound like less fun. But think of all the joy you’ll have when my first ironclad lock of the season proves to be wrong.
After spending seven hours a day with Lee Shirvanian on air from SEC Media Days in Atlanta, I have at least a working knowledge of all 14 SEC teams. Every coach and player loves the culture of their current team. They all think the brotherhood of the team is stronger than ever. They all see huge success ahead this season.
They’ll all still believe that right up until their first loss and reality starts to set in. For 13 of the 14 teams, that won’t be until at least Week 2. Only Tennessee is going to be a loser in Week 1. The Volunteers are going to be no match for high-scoring West Virginia in Charlotte.
That means the SEC will win its other neutral site openers — Alabama over Louisville in Orlando, LSU over Miami in Arlington, Ole Miss over Texas Tech in Houston and Auburn over Washington in Atlanta.
Alabama-Louisville doesn’t really deserve to be in the conversation with the other games, because the Tide is a 28-point favorite and will probably be favored by 33 by kickoff. But the Cardinals are a Power 5 team, so the win will bring some notoriety to the SEC.
LSU and Auburn will have huge home-crowd advantages, while Ole Miss will be playing in the home state of Texas Tech.
The Auburn-Washington game is being billed as the biggest game in years for the entire PAC 12. The conference was terrible a year ago. A win over a very highly regarded Auburn team in SEC country would go a long way in reversing that image, but a loss by the conference favorites to a team not picked to win the SEC would continue the narrative that the PAC 12 is the weakest of the major conferences.
The SEC has no such image problem after Georgia and Alabama staged a dramatic national championship game. That strong SEC reputation is going to be enhanced by a 51-5 out-of-conference record this season. The only nonconference losses by the SEC this season will be Tennessee to West Virginia, Arkansas to Colorado State, Vanderbilt to Notre Dame, and Texas A&M and South Carolina to Clemson.
When will SEC teams learn that scheduling Clemson during the regular season is a bad idea? Auburn lost both games of its recent home-and-home and now face a more favorable nonconference schedule as a result.
Here is a rundown of the division standings and a prediction of every game played by an SEC team this season.
1. Georgia (12-0 overall, 8-0 in-conference, 4-0 nonconference).
2. Florida (10-2 overall, 6-2 in-conference, 4-0 nonconference)
3. South Carolina (9-3 overall, 6-2 in-conference, 3-1 nonconference)
4. Missouri (8-4 overall, 4-4 in-conference, 4-0 nonconference)
5. Kentucky (6-6 overall, 2-6 in-conference, 4-0 nonconference)
6. Vanderbilt (4-8 overall, 1-7 in-conference, 3-1 nonconference)
7. Tennessee (3-9 overall, 0-8 in-conference, 3-1 nonconference)
1. Alabama (12-0 overall, 8-0 in-conference, 4-0 nonconference)
2. Auburn (10-2 overall, 6-2 in-conference, 4-0 nonconference)
3. Mississippi State (10-2 overall, 6-2 in-conference, 4-0 nonconference)
4. Texas A&M (7-5 overall, 4-4 in-conference, 3-1 nonconference)
5. LSU (6-6 overall, 2-6 in conference, 4-0 nonconference)
6. Ole Miss (6-6 overall, 2-6 in-conference, 4-0 nonconference)
7. Arkansas (4-8 overall, 1-7 in-conference, 3-1 nonconference)
In case of a tie, the team listed on top means that team won the head-to-head matchup.
Here are some observations after analyzing every SEC game.
SEC West teams are going to have a record of 8-6 in games against the SEC East.
Eleven of the 14 teams will qualify for bowl games.
If South Carolina can win its bowl game, six SEC teams will end the season with double-digit wins.
Georgia and Alabama will play in the SEC Championship Game, with the winner going to the playoff and the loser being outraged by being left out of the playoff.
Of course, a good number of my predictions will prove wrong. But for now, I love my team culture, I have a strong brotherhood on my team and I see huge success ahead this season.
Randy Kennedy writes a weekly column for Lagniappe and is co-host of “Sports Drive” every weekday from 3-6 p.m. on WNSP 105.5 FM, the country’s first all-sports FM station.