SEC Football Predictions | Week 1
Overall Record (0-0)
Welcome to the first installment of the 2017 SEC football season, better known as the Week 1 edition of SEC Football Predictions. If I had to pick a play from last year to define the season, I’d say I’d do what Clemson would do and just run a pick play until someone threw a penalty flag.
Bad (but true) jokes aside, do the right thing and go ahead and read Week 1 of SEC Football Predictions. Thoughts and prayers to spouses and children who do not share your love of college football.
All Times Eastern | Utilizing AP Rankings until the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Rankings are released in October.
Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017
Florida A&M (0-0) at Arkansas (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
8:00 PM ET | SEC Network | Little Rock
Quick word of wisdom: The SEC football season kicks off in Little Rock, Arkansas, on the SEC Network. This will not be a game that Bret Bielema should spend much time on to win, so we won’t either. Just be ready for quarterback Austin Allen to give SEC West defenses fits in 2017. More on that in future editions of this renowned predictions series.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 41, Florida A&M 7
Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017
Missouri State (0-0) at Missouri (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Noon ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: Saturday’s opening action kicks off in Columbia, Missouri, against possibly Missouri’s biggest in-state rival. This game is much like the Thursday Arkansas game, so we will not spend much time discussing it. Missouri’s offense will give defenses fits, but we will need to discuss in upcoming weeks.
PREDICTION: Missouri 52, Missouri State 21
NC State (0-0) vs. South Carolina (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
3:00 PM ET | ESPN | Charlotte, NC
Quick word of wisdom: The Gamecocks open the season against a team that resembles the one they see looking back at them in the mirror everyday. Like South Carolina, the 2017 Wolfpack have many questions to answer, but with those questions are sprinkles of hope mingled in with potential and excitement. Both of these teams can use this game as a springboard into a special, or at least good, season.
If the Gamecocks can come away with a win in Charlotte Saturday afternoon, they have a chance to play games that matter on up into November. With winnable conference games stacked on the front end of the schedule, South Carolina could find themselves deciding the SEC East on either November 4th when they travel to Athens to face Georgia or November 11th when they host Florida.
Because they have a quarterback that appears ready for Saturday’s in the SEC, I think the Gamecocks will leave Charlotte with a 1-0 record and a busload of South Carolina fans asking “Why not us?”
PREDICTION: South Carolina 24, NC State 13
#11 Michigan (0-0) vs. #17 Florida (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
3:30 PM ET | ABC | Arlington, TX
Big game word of wisdom: Based on what we know about the starting quarterbacks for either team going into this game, we could see any number of guys under center for Michigan and Florida Saturday afternoon in the Jerry Dome. Florida coach Jim McElwain says they have a plan, but it will not be revealed before kickoff. Jim Harbaugh is doing the same because he’s Jim Harbaugh and he still believes he’s the best quarterback on the sideline.
Based on McElwain’s previous two seasons at Florida, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him change up the offense a little. The Gators have won the past two SEC Eastern Division titles, but they have been manhandled in the SEC Championship Game both years by Alabama. Clemson and Deshaun Watson proved that a mobile quarterback that can keep the defense honest with a legit passing game can beat Alabama. Don’t be surprised to see Florida live-and-die with Malik Zaire and spread out the offense a little.
The Gators defense has been stellar the last two years. Imagine what could happen if they add an improved offense to the resume for 2017.
Note: Florida suspended two more players before this story was filed, bringing the total number of players suspended to 10. I assume this number will reach 15-30 before kickoff. Regardless, we will stick with our Gators victory pick.
PREDICTION: Florida 31, Michigan 21
Kentucky (0-0, 0-0 SEC) at Southern Miss (0-0)
4:00 PM ET | CBSSN
Quick word of wisdom: Kentucky led 35-10 with :56 to play in the first half in last year’s season-opener in Lexington against Southern Miss before giving up 34 unanswered points and losing by nine. The Wildcats will travel to Hattiesburg hoping to erase last year’s disappointing start and to build on the strong finish to the season. Coming off a win on the road over Louisville, Kentucky could be a team that we ignore for weeks until we look up in November and see them in contention for the East.
Southern Miss can score points, but the quarterback that gave Kentucky fits, Nick Mullen, is now on the San Francisco 49ers roster. Kentucky is a 10-point favorite and should pull away late and cover.
PREDICTION: Kentucky 42, Southern Miss 28
Charleston Southern (0-0) at Mississippi State (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
4:00 PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: The last time Mississippi State opened the season against a team they should beat was last year against South Alabama. And they lost. By no means is Charleston Southern at the level of South Alabama, but Bulldogs fans can rest assured knowing Dan Mullen will not allow Mississippi State to take this game lightly.
PREDICTION: Mississippi State 52, Charleston Southern 0
Appalachian State (0-0) at Georgia (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
6:15 PM ET | ESPN
Quick word of wisdom: Appalachian State gave Tennessee fits last year to open the season and nearly ruined Butch Jones and the Vols’ season before Texas A&M, Alabama, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt had a chance to do their part. Georgia fans may get a little fussy with this win not being an impressive blowout, but the Bulldogs will get better each week. Especially if Nick Chubb and Sony Michel stay healthy.
PREDICTION: Georgia 27, Appalachian State 17
Georgia Southern (0-0) at #12 Auburn (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:30 PM ET | SEC Network
PREDICTION: Auburn 40, Georgia Southern 10
South Alabama (0-0) at Ole Miss (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:30 PM ET | ESPNU
Quick word of wisdom: The last time South Alabama visited the state of Mississippi, the Jags left Starkville with an upset victory over Mississippi State. The 2017 Jaguars season will open in Oxford against a program that will appear tattered and beaten and a little relieved to be tackling something on a football field rather than getting broadsided by a NCAA investigator.
The Rebels have one saving grace for this season and that is the electrifying play of quarterback Shea Patterson. Aside from Patterson putting on a one-man performance of “Johnny Football Live From Oxford,” this season will be one long “let’s play spoiler” fest.
I’m tempted to take South Alabama, but I think Ole Miss will have a better season than most think. The first win will come in Week 1 against the Jags of Mobile.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss 31, South Alabama 24
#3 Florida State (0-0) vs. Alabama (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
8:00 PM ET | ABC | Atlanta
Big game word of wisdom: College football’s version of the Daytona 500 will take place inside the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta when Alabama and Florida State play in a national championship environment on opening weekend. There are people picking FSU to win this game while picking Alabama to still win the national championship. It’s certainly possible, but a loss in a hard-fought game to begin the season will take a lot out of the losing team in this one.
The story begins the same for Alabama each year — a few great players head to the NFL and new guys will need to step up. And they always do. The Seminoles are extremely talented and the ‘Tide won’t play a team this closely matched in talent until they face LSU in November. This one will come down to defense and which quarterback can stand the pressure. Jalen Hurts can make a few more plays with his legs and that will be enough to win a low-scoring battle in Atlanta.
Added note: This will be a non-title SEC Championship Belt title match since FSU is in the ACC. We will try to follow the SEC Championship Belt throughout the year. Read about it here.
PREDICTION: Alabama 20, Florida State 10
Vanderbilt (0-0, 0-0 SEC) at MTSU (0-0)
8:00 PM ET | CBSSN
Quick word of wisdom: Derek Mason has proven me and a thousand other people wrong. I will be the first to admit that I believed he was in over his head as a head coach in the SEC. I may have been right at the time, but I didn’t see him being able to pull himself above the raging waters that is SEC football.
He is now in his fourth season on West End in Nashville and is coming off the program’s first win over a ranked Tennessee team in 39 years. This first game will be a great test for Mason’s defense as they head to Murfreesboro to face a Blue Raiders team that likes to score points. I’m not convinced Middle can put up that many points against this defense and I’m not convinced Vandy won’t win this game big. As a graduate of MTSU, I have reveled in victories over Vandy teams that were “better” than the Blue Raiders, but this Vandy program is no longer recognizable to long-time SEC football fans.
Something tells me Vandy comes out and takes care of business. I don’t know why, because that is something I have never written or said in my 40 years of life. If there’s a trophy for the best college team in the Midstate, Vandy will win it Saturday night in the ‘Boro.
PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 35, MTSU 17
BYU (1-0) vs. #13 LSU (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
9:30 PM ET | ESPN | New Orleans via Houston
Quick word of wisdom: If any team can handle the distraction of a hurricane, it’s LSU. I’d be willing to bet my left foot that no program has dealt with more hurricane-induced games that have been canceled, moved to a different venue, or moved to a different date while people were still taking shelter on campus. That is why many in Baton Rouge rolled their eyes last year when Florida was less than flexible about playing the game on the scheduled weekend.
BYU has already played a game, beating Portland State last week in Week 0. LSU has many question marks coming into the 2017 season, but overall talent is not one of them. Derrius Guice is the real deal at running back and the Tigers will somehow be better at that position than they were with Fournette.
LSU is favored by 16.5 points in this one. I’m not sure I’d bet my right foot on LSU covering that spread, but if the Tiger’s size and quickness take over soon enough, they may cover that number twice.
PREDICTION: LSU 34, BYU 16
Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017
Texas A&M (0-0, 0-0 SEC) at UCLA (0-0)
7:30 PM ET | FOX
Quick word of wisdom: Texas A&M in September could beat the 1985 Chicago Bears. Texas A&M in late-October through November deflates and could struggle to beat Little Giants.
UCLA will not be as overrated this year as last year, but quarterback Josh Rosen will be as annoying as he’s ever been. Rosen should and will be the only football-related entity in UCLA’s football program to live up to expectations — as the most overrated quarterback in college football.
PREDICTION: Texas A&M 42, UCLA 28
Monday, Sept. 4, 2017
#25 Tennessee (0-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. Georgia Tech (0-0)
8:00 PM ET | ESPN | Atlanta
Quick word of wisdom: Give Tennessee credit. They already have two starters (one on offense and one on defense) out of this game because of injury, not to mention a suspension or two. The Vols usually wait until the season to begin before the injury bug strikes. Tennessee won early and got into the Top 10, but injuries finally decimated the depth and the second half of the season was a huge letdown.
Although the Vols have injuries going into this game against SEC charter member Georgia Tech, I still think Butch and the boys will have enough speed and size to outlast the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech has been hit by the suspension bug as well so the personnel issue will be a wash. This game will take place within spitting distance of Georgia Tech’s campus, but a conservative guess is Tennessee will have a 70-30 advantage in fans.
Tennessee should start 1-0 headed into a warm-up in Week 2 against sparring partner, Indiana State before heading to The Swamp to ruin the season in Week 3.
PREDICTION: Tennessee 28, Georgia Tech 17
Eric Taylor is a contributor to FBSchedules.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricFromSpfld or contact him via email at Eric–at– TaylorCreativeGroup–dot– net. Eric is also President and Founder of Taylor Creative Group. For more college football coverage from Eric, visit PuntOnThirdDown-dot-com for the POTD Blog and POTD Podcast. Be sure to Like the Facebook page Facebook.com/EricTaylorWritesStuff for the latest on the 2016 SEC Football Predictions and all POTD Blogs and Podcasts.