Predicting the SEC's Biggest Upsets in 2016

Watch out, LSU. The Razorbacks are nasty in November

Talkin' season, as Steve Spurrier once eloquently deemed it, is almost over. SEC teams are now getting ready for fall camp and players are dreading those brutal August practices. While practice is tough, it is rewarding. There is always positive energy circulating when teams come out of practice and hit the field for the first time.

 

That is, until they get beat by a Group of Five or FCS school. Upsets happen every year, usually when you least expect them. That makes forecasting them extremely difficult. With that said, here is my attempt at predicting the SEC's 10 craziest upsets in 2016:

 

Honorable Mentions:

Arkansas over Alabama, Oct. 8

Auburn over Clemson, Sept. 3

Texas A&M over Tennessee, Oct. 8

Virginia Tech over Tennessee, Sept. 10

Vanderbilt over Georgia Tech, Sept. 17

 

Note: I do not necessarily think all of the upsets listed above will happen. Those are just a few to keep an eye on.

 

10. Florida over Georgia, Oct. 29

The Gators have had Georgia's number the past two seasons, so it's hard to call this a major "upset" by definition. The reason this one is listed as an upset is because at this point in the season, I have Georgia in control of the SEC East after beating Tennessee. This will be the Bulldogs’ slip-up that keeps them out of the SEC Championship Game. Both Florida and Georgia have a bye week coming into this matchup.  

 

9. BYU over Mississippi State, Oct. 14

Many people think BYU will be the favorite coming into this game, but those people are underestimating Mississippi State. The Bulldogs should be stable at the quarterback spot by this point in the season, and still have plenty of playmakers at receiver. And from an overall talent perspective, Mississippi State appears to have the edge compared to BYU. However, this game will be played in Provo, Utah, on a Friday night in the middle of the season, so the Cougars will score an upset.

 

Related: Top 15 SEC Non-Conference Games of 2016

 

8. South Carolina over Texas A&M, Oct. 1

Last year, South Carolina was terrible, but still managed to hang with the Aggies in College Station. This time, the Gamecocks get revenge at home. Texas A&M has a tough road trip at Auburn, then a physical neutral site game with Arkansas leading up to this one. The South Carolina game also comes before the Aggies host Tennessee on Oct. 8. This one has "trap game" written all over it, and South Carolina's defense will be better than it was last year.

 

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7. Vanderbilt over Ole Miss, Nov. 19

With only 10 starters returning and arguably the nation's most difficult schedule, it could be a tough year for Ole Miss. The Rebels are going to be tired and banged up by the end of the season. Their five-game stretch before the Vanderbilt game includes trips to Arkansas, LSU and Texas A&M, as well as home games against Auburn and Georgia Southern. That stretch is the epitome of a tough schedule. Vanderbilt will be fighting for bowl eligibility and the Commodores' defense will make it tough on a beat-up Ole Miss team in Nashville.

 

6. North Carolina over Georgia, Sept. 3

The Tar Heels return one of the country's best running backs this season in junior Elijah Hood. Both of these teams have questions at the quarterback position, so this seems like it will be a low-scoring game with the better rushing team emerging as the winner. For that reason, I think UNC gets it done. It is still unclear whether Georgia's Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will be ready to play in week one. Regardless, it is likely that neither will be 100 percent.

 

5. Tennessee over Alabama, Oct. 15

The three-headed backfield monster of Joshua Dobbs, Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara is going to be hard to stop on the ground this year, even for Alabama. Tennessee had some success running the ball last year in Tuscaloosa and led the Crimson Tide in the fourth quarter. This time around, in Knoxville, the Volunteers will get the job done and end their nine-game losing streak to Nick Saban's squad. By the time the Third Saturday in October rolls around, both of these teams should be vying for a berth in the SEC title game. Neyland Stadium will be rocking.

 

4. Vanderbilt over Florida, Oct. 1

Speaking of the Vols’ ending losing streaks this year, it's also finally time they get past the Gators. Florida will be hobbling after the loss in Knoxville, and Vanderbilt will no longer stand for being seen as a rebound opponent. The Commodores came awfully close to beating Florida last year in The Swamp, but eventually lost 9-7. Vanderbilt is good enough to get it done this time around, and Florida will be at an awkward point in the season. The Gators also play LSU the following week.

 

3. Louisiana Tech over Arkansas, Sept. 3

Arkansas has developed a reputation for getting better each week under Bret Bielema. By November, the Razorbacks are nearly unbeatable. Unfortunately, this game is in week one, and Arkansas also has proven it can lose to teams it should handle with ease. Louisiana Tech went 9-4 last year, and ended the season on a high note. The Bulldogs from Conference USA beat Arkansas' "little brother" (Arkansas State from the Sun Belt) over in Jonesboro, 47-28 in the New Orleans Bowl. This team shouldn't be able to beat Arkansas, but the Hogs will be very susceptible while trying to figure out things on offense in week one.

 

2. Arkansas over LSU, Nov. 12

Ok, Hog fans, now that you hate me, rejoice. Your team is going to pick it up midseason, once again, and you guys are going to beat LSU, once again. Except this time, LSU is going to be undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country going into the game. This is the scariest game on the Tigers' schedule, and it is in Fayetteville. The past two seasons, Arkansas has totally dominated LSU. The Bayou Bengals are loaded this year, and I think they are going to beat Alabama on Nov. 5 to take control of the SEC West. However, this will be the fall-out game. Arkansas' offensive line will push LSU around.

 

1. Georgia Southern over Ole Miss, Nov. 5

Well, here it is, the biggest upset of the SEC season. As mentioned before, Ole Miss' schedule is terrifying. The Rebels play Arkansas, LSU and Auburn leading up to this game. Georgia Southern won four of its last six games last year, and one of those losses was in overtime at Georgia. The Eagles pounded Bowling Green 58-27 in the GoDaddy Bowl. Also, there are seniors on this team that remember beating Florida down in The Swamp their freshman year. Call me crazy, but I think all the signs point to a major upset in Oxford.

 

— Written by Cody McClure, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a radio host and lead SEC Writer for Three Point Stance Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @CodyMcClureCFB.

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