The 2017 Daly Dose College Football Preview: The SEC

Southeastern Conference

The rumors of the demise of the baddest conference in college football have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, the league has been a little down the past couple of years, but make no mistake this is where the big dogs run.  Yes, Alabama is stacked every year, but those next level teams are getting better, and even the lowest level teams are as talented as any team in the country. It is no surprise that these are the greatest players in the country. I mean, you get what you pay for, right?

SEC

East

1. Georgia Bulldogs

Predicted finish: 10-2

The Bulldogs regressed significantly in 2016 under new head coach Kirby Smart, but this team has a ton of young talent. The defensive front seven is a force, and the running game should produce results with Nick Chubb, and Sony Michel. If the offensive line can show up, and the wide receivers can actually catch a ball, this team could really accomplish something. And if not? Well, Georgia fans are used to that.

2. Florida Gators

Predicted finish: 9-3

Has anyone gone to the SEC Conference Championship Game more quietly than Gators head coach Jim McElwain? In his first two years on the job McElwain has gone 19-8 and represented the SEC East to decide the conference. Yet in those two games, UF has been outscored 83-31, and McElwain’s record against ranked opponents? Just 3-7. Fortunately, Florida fans are a model of good judgement, and realistic expectations. So none of this will ever be a problem for Coach Mac.

3. Tennessee Volunteers

Predicted finish: 9-3

Last year was a big test for this team. They returned a ton of talent, but went just 9-4, and even lost to Vanderbilt. Numerous injuries, and a porous defense were simply too much to overcome. This season, there will be less talent, but also much lower expectations. And that’s just the way Rocky Top likes it. Just ask Peyton Manning.

4. Kentucky Wildcats

Predicted finish: 7-5

The Wildcats actually found themselves playing in a bowl game last season, as they went 7-6, after adopting a run-heavy offense. UK rushed for nearly 240 yards per game behind Freshman All-American running back Benny Snell, who returns for his sophomore season. You might be tempted to think the Cats could contend in the SEC East with that running game. Well, you might be tempted… if you hadn’t seen the UK defense. If you have seen them, then you know better.

5. Vanderbilt Commodores

Predicted finish: 7-5

They didn’t start very strong, but the commodores finished the 2016 season by beating Ole Miss and Tennessee, to finish 6-6. There’s nothing like a great comeback to make everyone to feel better about your program. And also to help everyone forget the fact that you started the season 4-6, and almost lost to Western Kentucky.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks

Predicted finish: 6-6

You have to give head coach Will Muschamp some credit for the way that he got this group to respond in his first season in Columbia. The Gamecocks somehow won six games, and went to a bowl game, despite having a very depleted roster. This year the roster is a little better, but the schedule is also much more difficult. This team won’t have much depth, so any injuries will be magnified. As will Muschamp’s crazy eyes the first time he loses his temper on one of his players.

7. Missouri Tigers

Predicted finish: 5-7

There will be more scoring in Missouri games this year. The problem for Tigers fans, is that most of it will be done by the opposing team.

 

West

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Predicted finish: 11-1

Head coach Nick Saban lost some significant talent to the NFL, but does it even matter anymore? He just reloads more quality players, and goes back to the College Football Playoff again. There are a few things you can count on in the world. Death, taxes, and Nick Saban getting better recruits than everyone else. Oh, and also…about once a season, his talented recruits will lose a game on the final play of the game.

2. Auburn Tigers

Predicted finish: 10-2

After taking a step back over the past few seasons, this Auburn team could return to being a contender. The Tigers should be loaded on offense with quarterback Jarrett Stidham and running back Kamryn Pettway. And don’t forget that this team almost beat eventual National Champion Clemson last season. Gus Malzahn’s team could be getting ready for something special.  Of course, every time we pick the Tigers to do anything, they make us look bad. And I think they do it on purpose.

3. LSU Tigers

Predicted finish: 9-3

Let me guess, the Tigers are loaded with talent, if they could just find some consistency at quarterback. But this season, senior quarterback Danny Etling is going to be the guy, right? Next, you’ll be telling me that you don’t judge head coach Ed Orgeron for the way he talks. I’m not buying it, is what I’m saying.

4. Arkansas Razorbacks

Predicted finish: 7-5

Head coach Bret Bielema has done a very good job in Fayetteville, taking over a struggling program, and going to bowl games three years in a row. The biggest knock on Bielema, is that he has been unable to beat Texas A&M. Well, we believe that this is the year he can do just that. The Razorbacks defense has to be better in 2017, and the backfield combo of QB Austin Allen and RB Rawleigh Williams should be enough for Arkansas to slay their dragon. Of course visits to Alabama and LSU, will have them feeling like a better dragon was out there waiting to blast them with hell-fire and brimstone.

5. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Predicted finish: 7-5

We aren’t entirely sure how in the world Dan Mullen has built a legitimate program in Starkville, but he seems to have done it. The Bulldogs have been to a bowl game seven years in a row now, and if the defense can turn things around, this team will be going to an eighth. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is a very good passer, and has a number of weapons at his disposal. You can make a pretty decent case that Mullen is the greatest coach in the history of Mississippi State football. It isn’t that he’s that great. It just kind of tells you the history of this fine institution.

6. Texas A&M Aggies  

Predicted finish: 6-6

The Aggies are out to turn things around in 2017. For the past three seasons, head coach Kevin Sumlin has seen his Aggies start off strong, and then fade down the stretch, and finish 8-5. Well, his job might be on the line this season, so that isn’t going to happen this time. The Aggies are going to stumble both early, and late, and finish 6-6.

7. Ole Miss Rebels

Predicted finish: 4-8

Ole Miss is banned from the postseason, and will be playing for an interim head coach, after the Rebels fired High Freeze. It seems that Freeze was associating with shady boosters, and even calling escort services during his time in Oxford. It’s crazy to think that a coach with limited in-state resources would resort to such things in a football crazy conference. I mean, who saw that coming? Okay, all of you put your hands down.

Did you miss our Daly Dose Pac 12 preview?

Coming up on Saturday: We begin our NFL previews!

Advertisements

Pitino, Louisville interested in Hugh Freeze as “director of prostitution”

Following his resignation from Ole Miss, football coach Hugh Freeze may not have to wait very long to find a new job.

Last week it was announced that Freeze had resigned from his position as head football coach at the University of Mississippi. It seems that school officials had found a number of phone calls to a number associated with an escort services. The encouraged “resignation” was mutual, and the university will not have to fulfill the remainder of Freeze’s contract.

The Rebels promoted assistant head coach Matt Luke the interim head coach effective immediately. Questions swirled following the departure of Freeze as many wondered if he would ever work in the collegiate ranks again. However, it seems that Freeze has already received some interest from another school, albeit an unlikely source.

The Daly Dose has learned that University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has inquired as to whether Freeze might be interested in coming to the Bluegrass State.

final4

In June, it was announced that several penalties would be brought against the Cardinals by the NCAA. Pitino is also due to serve a five-game suspension, because of sex-scandal allegations that a staff member provided basketball recruits with prostitutes and strippers. Louisville and Pitino plan to appeal the decision.

Pitino spoke to the Daly Dose and was very open about his interest in Freeze. “I realize that this is a sensitive subject, but I think it is safe to say that we have some similar interests as Coach Freeze, and we feel like he could definitely be an asset to our program.”

Does it concern Pitino that Freeze has no experience coaching basketball?

“Some things transcend sports.” Pitino answered. “I’m not looking to bring Hugh Freeze to the University of Louisville to coach a match-up press. This is a man that has a very special set of skills, and they are the type of skills that we can use here to improve our basketball program. We just want Coach Freeze to be Coach Freeze.”