Sorry, gotta disagree in part on 3. You have to consider the insane injury situation in Columbia last year, and how close MU played against Georgia and Florida, both very close games, they lost to Vandy with the real QB on the bench. This team wins at least 7 and goes to a bowl game this year.
But you're right about one thing, Mizzou fans will grumble, it's what Mizzou fans do. If MU goes 14-0 and wins the championship fans will complain about the tires on the team bus. So, in that way, they fit right in with SEC society. Tiger fans aren't ever happy unless they're miserable.
But next week is SEC Media Days. That means it’s full-on prediction time across the Southeastern Conference and predictions bring — you guessed it — negativity into my life (by way of comments, emails, and tweets).
I’d love to be able to pick 14 schools to win the league this year, but that’s not going to happen. So I’ll just call it like I see it. And I suspect you’ll do the same.
Oh, and I’ll make these predictions knowing full well that picks and prognostications made at this point in the year are usually straight-up folly. Last July, did anyone see some kid named Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman? And wasn’t everyone predicting Missouri to have an easier entry into the SEC than Texas A&M? You get the point.
Still, here goes with five fearless predictions of things that will not happen in the SEC this fall:
1. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel will not have as much success this season.
In between tweets and red carpet appearances, the Aggie quarterback has reportedly spent part of his offseason working on his passing game. With legs like Doug Flutie, Manziel became the most exciting player in college football last season. A&M’ers must be thinking, “Imagine if he further develops his arm!” But Manziel’s legs are what made him so special last season. Twice last year SEC teams used a “mush rush” against those legs. And both Florida and LSU were able to keep Manziel in the pocket as a result, which in turn allowed both teams to hang losses on the Aggies. In a defensive-minded conference, it’s likely that the opposing coaches on Texas A&M’s schedule this year have spent much of their offseason studying tape from those Florida and LSU games last year. Manziel and A&M should be very good, but we don’t see another Heisman or 11-win season in the cards. (One side prediction: As soon as Texas A&M loses a game this year, expect the media to pepper Manziel with questions about his offseason activities. He doesn’t seem to be the type to bite his tongue, does he? So there could be fireworks on the field and off at College Station in 2013.)
2. Florida will not beat Georgia this year.
This past May, Gator coach Will Muschamp made some headlines by telling a Florida booster club that Georgia’s current winning streak over UF is “not going to be a long winning streak.” At MrSEC.com, we filed that one under “What’s a coach supposed to tell his team’s fans?” That said, Georgia’s two-game win streak over the Gators will indeed be extended by at least one more year when the Dawgs knock off their rivals in Jacksonville this fall. Mind you, UGA hasn’t won three in a row in this series since 1987, 1988, and 1989. Like my high school days, that was a long time ago. But Georgia’s offense should be one of the most potent in the SEC this year. Until Florida’s offense begins to thrive under Muschamp, I won’t be picking the reptiles to hang with the canines on the scoreboard.
3. Gary Pinkel will not win enough to keep boosters off his tail at Missouri.
First things first, Pinkel completely turned around the Mizzou football program. To let him go so soon into the Tigers’ SEC transition would be a mistake in our view. But this is the Southeastern Conference and Tiger fans will prove they belong this fall by yelping for their coach’s noggin. MU needs James Franklin to stay healthy and return to his 2011 form. The Tigers need Dorial Green-Beckham to live up to his hype. The offensive and defensive lines will need to improve (minus D-tackle Sheldon Richardson). On and on. Need, need, need. There are just too many needs. If Pinkel proves this fall that he can win games without a roster filled with blue-chip recruits — a la Bobby Petrino — fine. But that’s doubtful. And his recruiting this year isn’t working in his favor. Here’s betting Pinkel will either get the boot at year’s end or enter 2014 on the hottest of hot seats. (Don’t forget this either: Being a bit of a grump is fine when you’re winning. Having an ornery personality works against a man when the losses start to mount.)
4. Alabama will not win the SEC this season.
Yes, Nick Saban is the best coach in college sports today. Yes, Alabama returns quite a bit from last year’s SEC/BCS-title winning squad. And, yes, the schedule — at least as it looks in July — is favorable. But winning back to back crowns requires some good bounces and positive breaks. It requires a carry-over in team chemistry and motivation. Bama proved that it could go back-to-back on the national stage in 2011 and 2012 (though not in 2009 and 2010). But the Crimson Tide didn’t win the SEC championship in 2011. UA finished second to LSU in its own division that season, proving that it’s easier to win a BCS title than it is to capture the SEC’s crown. Another note to remember: The Southeastern Conference has not had back-to-back champions since Tennessee turned the trick way back in 1997 and 1998 at the dawn of the BCS era. Alabama is just about everyone’s favorite to win the conference in 2013, but history suggests that the odds are really against the Tide.
5. The SEC will not win the BCS championship this season.
Hey, the streak has to end at some point. After seven consecutive national championships, the BCS age will end with a team from another league hoisting that crystal football. Ohio State appears to have the best shot at besting an SEC foe in this year’s Pasadena-based title game. Buckeye coach Urban Meyer has more speed on his roster than any other squad in the Big Ten. That should be good enough to propel OSU into the BCS Championship Game where Meyer will likely face a coach and team he’s familiar with, be it Saban and Alabama, Les Miles and LSU, Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Mark Richt and Georgia, etc, etc. The bottom line is this: Ohio State should easily march through its own league to the BCS title game and there — against an SEC squad — Meyer will have an advantage over all the other coaches who’ve tried to beat a Southeastern Conference squad in the season’s final game. He’ll have knowledge of what it takes to win in the SEC.
Tomorrow: Five fearless predictions of things that will happen this fall in the SEC.