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SEC Football: Predicting the Biggest Upsets in 2020

SEC Football: Predicting the Biggest Upsets in 2020

SEC Football: Predicting the Biggest Upsets in 2020

I suppose predicting upsets at the beginning of the season is tough enough on its own. But throw in how the COVID-19 dynamic has changed college football for this upcoming season and it makes it a couple degrees more difficult.

At this same time a year ago, I was asked to pick the biggest potential upsets in the SEC and thought "Man, this is impossible to predict." Undaunted, I accepted the challenge and began digging into the schedules to see where the biggest shockers would come from in the Southern Monster Conference.

Well, lo and behold, of the 10 upsets I predicted for 2019, four of them came to fruition. But even more interesting, four other predicted upsets ended with the team I picked to be the David losing to the Goliath by four, four, six, and seven points.

Oh, and the feather in my cap: my No. 1 upset was LSU beating Alabama. Ain't that a peach?

So while I'm on my ego-boosting hot streak, here are my 10 upsets to watch for in the SEC in 2020. Oh, and don't say I didn't warn you.

10. Vanderbilt over Ole Miss, Oct. 31

We don't give the Commodores enough due in these kinds of columns, but this time we will. With no non-conference games and a handful of players opting out this season, the Dores could very well end up 0-for-10 in 2020. However, take a close look at this game. VU will be sitting out the fifth week with a bye, and the Rebels will be toiling with title-contending Auburn. That gives head coach Derek Mason and his charges two weeks to prepare for the Rebels. Sure, this is a shot-in-the-dark upset pick, but I'm calling my shot anyway.

9. Kentucky over Georgia, Oct. 24

Yeah, this one is a bit of a stretch, I know. That's why it is so far down on my confidence scale. But the Wildcats will have an SEC-experienced quarterback in Terry Wilson and a good bit of skill players back. They also have the luxury of having a junior- and senior-heavy defensive unit that could cause problems for the Bulldogs, who have just two returning starters on offense. An actual upset might not happen, but Mark Stoops is building something special in Lexington.

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8. South Carolina over Kentucky, Dec. 5

It will be really interesting to see what Gamecock quarterback Ryan Hilinski will do. There will be a lot of new pieces plugged into the skill positions, but obviously this will be Game 10, so the team will have gelled into a formidable unit, especially since four-fifths of the O-line comes back and will make a good blocking wall. The Wildcats will be coming off a pair of real head knockers: at Alabama (Nov. 14) and at Florida (Nov. 21) prior to playing the Gamecocks. Yikes. Hope UK has enough healthy bodies to field a team.

7. Tennessee over Auburn, Nov. 21

It could be argued that the Volunteers got the raw end of the deal when the SEC schedule was reconfigured because their crossover games with the West include games against Alabama, Texas A&M, and Auburn. But looking at it another way, it does give the Vols a lot of chances for a program-defining win to rejuvenate Big Orange Nation. Though I think they'll come up short in a couple of those, this could be the big road win they're looking for.

6. South Carolina over Texas A&M, Nov. 7

This is another one of those games where the assigned bye weeks from the SEC schedule-makers come into play. The Gamecocks will take Halloween off to do some trick-or-treating and lie in wait for the Aggies, who will have a bye week two weeks prior to this game. The last time A&M came to Columbia, Kellen Mond threw for 353 yards, but the Aggies still had to sweat out the fourth quarter on the way to a 26-23 escape.

5. LSU over Alabama, Nov. 14

I don't have as much confidence in this upset pick as I did a year ago, where I put the Tigers over the Tide as my No. 1 upset for 2019. In hindsight, was it really an "upset" to us? Hmmm, not really. But this time the Tigers do have a ton of losses off last year's title-winning squad, including a good group of seniors and nine underclassmen who went pro early. But getting the Tide at home will help, even if the stadium in 25 percent full. There is still a mystique to Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night.

4. Tennessee over Texas A&M, Nov. 14

I'm being a little harsh on the Aggies, this being the second time on this list I am predicting the Aggies to be upset victims, but it's hard to overlook the possibility here. If the Volunteers get the consistency from the quarterback position this year, there is no reason they can't make a signature win or two happen. Jarrett Guarantano is nothing if not experienced in the SEC rigors. The other positive sign for the Big Orange? Sure, it's not a bye week before the Aggies come to town, but it's as close as it gets since UT will play Arkansas the week prior.

3. Texas A&M over Florida, Oct. 10

Okay Aggies, here is where you are redeemed in my eyes. It will be a big chore to face the Gators as you are coming off a road trip to Alabama the previous week, but this one will be at Kyle Field and even a half-filled stadium means there will be nearly 50,000 screaming Maroon and White fans. Also, this could be the best QB vs. QB matchup of the season, with Kellen Mond going up against Kyle Trask. Mond is looking for a defining performance after being a little hit-and-miss last season. Here's your chance, KM.

2. Kentucky over Auburn, Sept. 26

Week 1 in the revamped SEC schedule will be pretty tame, with most of the expected contenders facing off with non-contenders. But this one is the most intriguing, off-the-beaten-path matchup since I have a sneaky suspicion that the Wildcats are going to be better than most people expect. If this game was played later in the year, I'd say advantage Tigers, but that will be an inexperienced (though talented) team that Gus Malzahn will put on the field in September. Look for Mark Stoops & Co. to pull the first big surprise of the season.

1. Florida over LSU, Oct. 17

Here's the thing about the Tigers for 2020: they're going to still be very talented and will be a title-contending team. Don't listen to the doomsayers who say all those losses from a year ago will tank them to a couple of losses this year. And you'll see, they'll race out to breezy wins over Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Missouri. But reality will hit when they pack up and go to Gainesville in mid-October. Trask will look to this as a signature win in what Gator fans hope is a Heisman campaign similar to the way Joe Burrow emerged from the SEC battlegrounds a year ago.

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.