Every season of college football starts out the same way. We have all of these things that we think are knowns — lead-pipe locks as one popular radio host calls them. Then, by midseason, we're all wrong, sitting around wondering what happened to all that we thought was written in stone.
It shouldn't surprise us, considering that we are dealing with young men in their late teens and early 20s, but it always does.
When it comes to the SEC, one of the things we think we know is that, despite not having won the national championship in the last two seasons, it's still the toughest conference. The coaches and media agree, as eight SEC teams appear in the Top 25 of the two major preseason polls. But are those rankings legit, or are we in for a few surprises?
Sounds like a good time to makes some outrageous predictions about the SEC in 2015.
Vanderbilt will go bowling
The Commodores return 16 starters from a season ago and face a very manageable non-conference schedule. Additionally, by way of playing in the SEC East, they get to play two or three teams with some serious question marks heading into the season. All of these things point to a season where we could very well see Vanderbilt win seven or eight games.
Florida won't win a conference game
The Gators may boast one of the finest players in the land in cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, but the rest of the roster leaves a whole lot to be desired. They've got freshmen and inexperienced underclassmen all over the depth chart. They are easily the youngest and most inexperienced team in the conference. To make matters worse, they're going through a regime change. Jim McElwain's first season in Gainesville is going to be long and painful.
Nick Chubb will run for 1,000 yards in September
Georgia loves the spotlight. They love having a guy in the Heisman conversation, and in 2015, Chubb is the guy. Look for him to carry the ball 30 times a game in all four September contests against some extremely suspect defenses. The folks at ESPN and the SEC Network (one and the same) will be ready to shut down the Heisman voting altogether after the first month of the season.
Ole Miss will win the West
The success the Rebels had at the beginning of 2014 was maybe a season too early. Ole Miss will feature one of the nation's top defenses and play in a fairly weak offensive division. On the other side of the ball, the Rebels return every starting offensive lineman and skill player. That will make life pretty easy for quarterback Chad Kelly.
Missouri will win the East for the third straight year
There are only two teams in the country who have played in two consecutive conference title games and return their starting quarterback from a season ago. One is Ohio State. The other is Mizzou. Gary Pinkel and Maty Mauk are the SEC's most successful quarterback/coach combo over the last two seasons. The Tigers have systems that work on both sides of the ball and athletes who are willing to play specific roles to help the team. While everyone else in the SEC East is looking for an identity or to make a move to the next level, Missouri already knows exactly who and what they are.