2010 SEC College Football Predictions and Preview by Whatifsports.com From WhatIfSports.com image

SEC Football Predictions and Preview

Alabama still the team to beat in SEC
By Ryan Fowler, Whatifsports.com
August 23rd, 2010

SEX sells. SEC sells too.

Since the inception of the BCS format in 1998, the SEC is batting 1.000 when the crystal football is on the line. The conference is six for six and in the midst of four straight BCS titles.

This helps the sale of SEC to the masses.

The media fascination/obsession with SEC may force some to throw up in their mouth a little bit. However, their fixation on the Southeastern portion of college football's landscape isn't only tied to wins, losses and championships.

The conference has a vast array of coaching personalities. Nick Saban plays the "too cool for school card" because he can. Urban Meyer plays (and actually, considering the health issues he's dealt with, actually embodies) the grizzled hard-worker card. Steve Spurrier is somehow still considered the "ole' ball coach." And then you have new Vanderbilt head coach, Robbie Caldwell. He may be a combination of Robert Neyland and Lennie (from "Of Mice and Men"), and should entertain us with a post-game press conference that range in subjects from "how the Commodores’ special teams played" to "how coon hunting when he was 12 years-old affected the game plan."

Paris thinks that's hot.

Nick Saban says his team isn’t defending a national championship. Urban Meyer is ready to put the Tim Tebow era to rest. Tennessee is moving on without Lane Kiffin.

Activate popped collar, slide on aviators, turn around and strut away.

At times, these coaches act like the chick in school that knew she was hot and knew she was coveted, but brushed the attention off with the “Who, little ole’ me?” routine. Meanwhile prepubescent boys (aka – the media – and moreover the media laugh during press conferences) were prepared to cut off their arm for a chance to date her.

You can’t blame them. These coaches have a product that sells and in this case, until another conference steps up and knocks the Southeastern Conference off their self constructed pedestal, SEC will continue to sell.

And when you combine the talent of the athletes doing the work on the field, who continue to fill roster spots in the NFL, with the charisma of the coaches, the SEC is easily the sexy choice for the media to cling to and obsess about from September 2nd until that second week of January.

Using our college football simulation engine, Whatifsports.com simulated thousands of college football games to create this SEC Preview. Team ratings, player ratings and depth charts are accurate as of July 31st. What you see in the WIS-SEC Predictions table is the most-likely outcome based on the computer simulations. The team-by-team schedules use Absolute Records, which you can learn more about below. Those same game-by-game simulations also generate average points per game for both teams.

WIS-SEC Predictions
EastWLOverall Record
South Carolina447-5
WestWLOverall Record
Mississippi State174-8

To hide the details, click here.

For this analysis, thousands of college football games are simulated, with the sum of the winning percentages of those games being our final predicted record. As can be noted, sometimes a team is "favored" (wins more than 50% of the time) in a different number of our games than the expected record shows. We list this record as the Absolute Record. The assumption of the Absolute Record is that the more likely scenario always happens. Since we know that it does not, our expected record (in the table above) is far more accurate. Also, especially since we are rounding, it is possible for a team to win a game more often, yet score the same or fewer points on average. In those cases, for Absolute Records, we always take higher winning percentage and are not predicting a tie or a win by an underdog. This is another reason why the expected records are more accurate, as the teams are so evenly matched, the game could easily go either way.



“Florida coach Urban Meyer is happy and healthy.”

“And the Gators are ready to put the Tim Tebow era behind them.”

“Even without its iconic quarterback, Florida enters 2010 as a consensus preseason top 10 team. But gone are the weighty expectations that the Gators faced last season, when they were preseason No. 1 and expected to repeat as BCS champions.”

"It's definitely different than last year, when we were the top-rated team, but this is a new team and a new year," senior defensive end Justin Trattou said. "The expectations around us might be different, but our expectations are the same, and you could see that by how hard we've worked this summer."

“It's also been a different summer for Meyer. Last year, Meyer went into the season with undiagnosed pain in his chest. The health scare caused Meyer to briefly resign in December, before changing his mind to return to UF for his sixth season.”

"It's been diagnosed," Meyer said. "I don't have that concern."

“So now Meyer can turn his focus to the field, where fourth-year junior John Brantley takes over for Tebow at quarterback. There are also seven new starters to break in on defense. Meyer is confident he'll be able to fill the holes on his first team because of quality recruiting, but he is concerned about his second- and third-team units.”

"We have some really good young players, but not much depth and not much experience," Meyer said.”

- Foxsports.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Florida Gators
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Miami (OH) RedHawks9555-6
2South Florida Bulls9141-21
3@Tennessee Volunteers9335-18
4Kentucky Wildcats9541-14
5@Alabama Crimson Tide2822-32
6LSU Tigers7227-17
7Mississippi State Bulldogs9540-15
9Georgia Bulldogs8135-24
10@Vanderbilt Commodores9543-10
11South Carolina Gamecocks7034-21
12Appalachian State Mountaineers9567-5
13@Florida State Seminoles5338-37



Dean Legge from DawgPost.com is our Georgia Bulldogs insider:

"The strength of Georgia is its offensive line," Legge said. "The weakness of the team is probably the inexperience at quarterback. I think they will finish 2nd in the SEC East."

For more from Dean Legge and the Bulldogs check out DawgPost.com.

The following information comes from WIS contributor Tom Reese:

The strength of Georgia is the offensive line and its running back tandem of Caleb King and Washaun Ealey. If Georgia can establish their running game they can protect red-shirt freshman QB, Aaron Murray, and keep him from having to win games with his arm early in the season. Georgia also has one of the best wide receivers in the nation in pre-season All-American A.J. Green. He should be counted on to bail out Murray on occasion. The size of Georgia's receiving corp has yet to be a subject of discussion, but it touts two players, senior Kris Durham and sophomore Marlon Brown, at 6’5’’ who are sure to complement Green.

The glaring weakness from last year’s team was taken care of before the bowl game; when three defensive coaches, including the special teams coach, were let go. It will be interesting to see how the Dawgs' defense has adjusted to the new 3-4 scheme that was implemented under Todd Grantham this summer. They will not have all the personnel in place up front since they have been recruiting for the 4-3 scheme. The Dawgs moved offensive lineman Justin Anderson over to defense to give them some depth at the nose guard position.

Special teams will also be a strong point as they return Ray Guy award winner Drew Butler as punter, and Lou Groza finalist Blair Walsh as the place kicker.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Georgia Bulldogs
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns9544-10
2@South Carolina Gamecocks4627-29
3Arkansas Razorbacks2637-41
4@Mississippi State Bulldogs8834-22
5@Colorado Buffaloes8836-23
6Tennessee Volunteers8634-18
7Vanderbilt Commodores9540-9
8@Kentucky Wildcats8634-20
9@Florida Gators1924-35
10Idaho State Bengals9563-6
11@Auburn Tigers4629-35
13Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets4635-36


Crazy Game of Joker

Kentucky Kentucky is 12-20 vs SEC teams the last 4 years

"One of our program goals is to win the SEC East," coach Joker Phillips said recently. "Not to win the national championship, but to win the SEC East. If you win the SEC East, there's a chance you're going to be competing for the national championship."

“That definitely ranks as lofty expectations for a middling BCS program playing in the same division as defending champion Alabama and national power Florida. Particularly with the Wildcats being in the midst of a reloading phase after losing numerous key players from a team that compiled a 7-6 record last season.”

“Kentucky still needs to decide on a starting quarterback between senior Mike Hartline and sophomore Morgan Newton. Hartline, who missed most of the second half of last season due to knee injury, has the edge entering fall camp.”

“The Wildcats have played in four consecutive bowl games. Shoring up issues on defense and the offensive line are crucial to that stretch reaching five.”

- Foxsports.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Kentucky Wildcats
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@Louisville Cardinals4423-27
2Western Kentucky Hilltoppers9538-9
3Akron Zips8833-13
4@Florida Gators514-41
5@Mississippi Rebels2518-32
6Auburn Tigers921-38
7South Carolina Gamecocks1919-30
8Georgia Bulldogs1420-34
9@Mississippi State Bulldogs4922-23
10Charleston Southern Buccaneers9549-7
11Vanderbilt Commodores8829-14
13@Tennessee Volunteers4422-26

South Carolina

South Carolina

Wes Mitchell of GamecockAnthem.com is our South Carolina Gamecocks insider:

"The strength of South Carolina overall is its defense," Mitchell said. "Ellis Johnson's defense finished third in the SEC in Total D last year, and though All-SEC LB Eric Norwood graduated, Johnson returns a deeper unit this year. The defense should be fast and athletic, and will be paced by the defensive line which features seniors preseason All-SEC defensive end Cliff Matthews and defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye. The defensive backs won't be far behind and are led by preseason All-American Stephon Gilmore."

"On offense South Carolina features a deep wide receiver corps. led by sophomores Alshon Jeffery and Tori Gurley, and a deep running back group that adds former Scout five-star RB Marcus Lattimore to the fold."

"South Carolina's weakness throughout the Spurrier Era has been the offensive line and until that group proves otherwise it will remain the biggest question mark on this team. "

For more from Wes Mitchell and the Gamecocks check out GamecockAnthem.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 South Carolina Gamecocks
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Southern Miss Golden Eagles7938-27
2Georgia Bulldogs5429-27
3Furman Paladins9557-5
4@Auburn Tigers3526-32
6Alabama Crimson Tide2119-30
7@Kentucky Wildcats8130-19
8@Vanderbilt Commodores9535-13
9Tennessee Volunteers7529-19
10Arkansas Razorbacks3333-36
11@Florida Gators3021-34
12Troy Trojans8234-21
13@Clemson Tigers4621-25



“A program that was the model of stability for nearly 30 years, as it was run by Tennessee grads Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer, is now reeling from constant turmoil.”

“New head coach Derek Dooley, the son of former legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, promises to be around for the long run. And it may take a while to rebuild this program's talent base and depth to the level needed to win in the Southeastern Conference.”

“There are some top-of-the-line SEC players -- tight end Luke Stocker and defensive end Chris Walker are two -- but there are also too many holes at too many key positions.”

“Take quarterback, where either true freshman Tyler Bray or junior college transfer Matt Simms will start. The next snap either takes in a Volunteer uniform will be his first. The new quarterback will operate behind an all-new offensive line that as of Aug. 2 featured two freshmen. The defense has to replace two first-round NFL picks, including All-American safety Eric Berry.”

“UT's schedule does it no favors, either. Beginning with a Sept. 11 visit from Oregon, it plays six of seven games against teams that will be or could be in the Top 25.”

“Dooley and his staff appear to know their stuff, but expecting this team to contend for anything besides a .500 season and minor bowl bid is unrealistic.”

- Foxsports.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Tennessee Volunteers
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks9551-7
2Oregon Ducks718-30
3Florida Gators718-35
4UAB Blazers9336-17
5@LSU Tigers1613-28
6@Georgia Bulldogs1418-34
8Alabama Crimson Tide511-37
9@South Carolina Gamecocks2519-29
10@Memphis Tigers9535-13
11Mississippi Rebels3523-26
12@Vanderbilt Commodores8626-15
13Kentucky Wildcats5626-22


va tech

“The 56-year old Robbie Caldwell doesn't figure to change much of Bobby Johnson's philosophy, although it will be interesting to see if the offense will take a different tack with the addition of former Tulsa co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand to the staff.”

“As for the on-field questions, they're the same this year for the Commodores that they have been in most years. Can they produce more big plays on offense and stay reasonably healthy?”

“Neither happened in last year's 2-10 nightmare, which started with injuries and ended with more injuries. Both sides of the ball were patchwork before midseason, thanks to bad luck and 12 straight games without an open date.”

“For the offense to improve from inept to adequate, quarterback Larry Smith must take a couple of steps forward. He showed flashes of brilliance as a sophomore but was hampered by inaccuracy and decision-making before a season-ending injury Oct. 31 against Georgia Tech.”

“Defensively, the front four must hold up better against the run than it did last year. Although injuries didn't help, the unit took a step back from the defenses which took the field in 2007 and 2008.”

“As is the case most years, there are few expectations for Vandy. But if it can stay healthy and produce more big plays on offense, it has a realistic chance to double its win total from last year.”

- Foxsports.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Vanderbilt Commodores
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Northwestern Wildcats714-30
2LSU Tigers510-35
3@Mississippi Rebels511-39
5@Connecticut Huskies512-41
6Eastern Michigan Eagles9330-12
7@Georgia Bulldogs59-40
8South Carolina Gamecocks513-35
9@Arkansas Razorbacks716-46
10Florida Gators510-43
11@Kentucky Wildcats1214-29
12Tennessee Volunteers1415-26
13Wake Forest Demon Deacons2620-24



Alabama Mark Ingram will try for a second Heisman Trophy

Kirk McNair of BamaMag.com is our Alabama Crimson Tide insider:

"Alabama returns most of the offensive weapons of 2009, including Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram at tailback, Greg McElroy at quarterback, and Julio Jones at wide receiver," McNair said. "The defense is being rebuilt, but Coach Nick Saban has recruited well in recent years and the Crimson Tide has big, fast, strong players to meet the needs. It is understandable that virtually every pre-season poll has Alabama winning the Southeastern Conference and likely repeating as national champion."

For more from Kirk McNair and the Crimson Tide check out BamaMag.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Alabama Crimson Tide
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1San Jose State Spartans9556-6
2Penn State Nittany Lions9331-15
3@Duke Blue Devils9540-12
4@Arkansas Razorbacks7234-30
5Florida Gators7232-22
6@South Carolina Gamecocks7930-19
7Mississippi Rebels9538-15
8@Tennessee Volunteers9537-11
10@LSU Tigers8126-16
11Mississippi State Bulldogs9545-9
12Georgia State Panthers9571-2
13Auburn Tigers7935-19



“The cover of Arkansas' media guide has highly acclaimed quarterback Ryan Mallett standing beside the words "GET READY." There couldn't be a more apt metaphor for Arkansas' 2010 season.”

“In Bobby Petrino's third year as the Razorbacks' coach, expectations are sky-high. That's due in large part to Mallett, who has Heisman Trophy hopes. But he is boosted by eight other offensive starters from last year's team, which went 8-5 and won the Liberty Bowl.”

“Now, the team is poised to make the next step. The buzz around the program has been quite loud in the offseason, even as Mallett has nursed a foot injury. To Petrino's credit, he's not shying away from the hype or pretending it doesn't exist.”

"We're embracing the expectations," Petrino said at SEC Media Days. "I think that's a good thing. When you have high expectations, it means that you played good football at the end of the year last year and you have a lot of returning players coming back."

“Tight end D.J. Williams is another bonus among those returning starters, as is an experienced offensive line. Most of the defense returns, too, but it wasn't one that wowed people last year.”


Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Arkansas Razorbacks
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles9564-7
2Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks9544-25
3@Georgia Bulldogs7441-37
4Alabama Crimson Tide2830-34
6@Texas A&M Aggies6740-37
7@Auburn Tigers4938-39
8Mississippi Rebels6841-34
9Vanderbilt Commodores9346-16
10@South Carolina Gamecocks6736-33
11UTEP Miners9551-23
12@Mississippi State Bulldogs8840-28
13LSU Tigers7537-28


The Final Burn

Auburn Auburn was 16th in the nation in total offense

“With a huge senior class, a hot-shot junior college transfer quarterback in Cameron Newton, 15 returning starters and a 30-man signing class that is expected to provide depth at a number of positions, there are tangible reasons why Auburn should expect better.”

“Kick in a favorable schedule that features eight home games and three winnable road games (Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Kentucky), and some have gone as far as to predict the Tigers and Alabama to both be undefeated for the Nov. 26 Iron Bowl.”

"At this time last year, we were trying to figure out who our football team was," coach Gene Chizik said. "We were trying to break the huddle. Now, we're trying to really focus on being a great football team."

“A quarterback has been named -- an absolute rarity around Auburn over the past few years -- and there are few position battles that have to be settled before the season opener against Arkansas State. Outside of what appears to be a one-sided battle between junior college transfers Brandon Mosley and Roszell Gayden at right tackle, the next-most intriguing battle could be at punter.”

“That's how far Auburn has come in a year. Now, 2010 will be about how far it can go.”

- Foxsports.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Auburn Tigers
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Arkansas State Red Wolves9549-9
2@Mississippi State Bulldogs9539-20
3Clemson Tigers5430-25
4South Carolina Gamecocks6532-26
5Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks9140-22
6@Kentucky Wildcats9138-21
7Arkansas Razorbacks5139-38
8LSU Tigers6729-23
9@Mississippi Rebels7033-27
10Chattanooga Mocs9562-6
11Georgia Bulldogs5435-29
13@Alabama Crimson Tide2119-35


Purple Pride

LSU LSU's defense only allowed 16.2 ppg last season

“The Tigers return six starters on offense and their top two quarterbacks in starter Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, and they seem to have the potential to improve an anemic attack that generated just under 305 yards a game in total offense last year. Only eight FBS teams were less productive.”

“Despite the loss of Brandon LaFell, the Tigers have talented receivers in senior Terrence Toliver and sophomores Russell Shepard and Reuben Randle, and they have three solid running backs in veterans Stevan Ridley and Richard Murphy and newcomer Mike Ford.”

“But there are big questions on defense, which loses seven starters from a unit that allowed only 16 points a game last year, 11th best in the country.”

“Two of the returnees were coaches' selections for first team preseason All-SEC -- linebacker Kelvin Sheppard and cornerback Patrick Peterson.”

“But one of the other returnees, senior Lazarius Levingston, is moving from end to tackle to bolster a need there.”

"I feel comfortable with this group because we have the Chief," Sheppard said, referring to the players' nickname for coordinator John Chavis. "He does a great job getting everyone ready to play. The defensive line is as strong as it's been since I've been here."


Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 LSU Tigers
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@North Carolina Tar Heels6518-15
2@Vanderbilt Commodores9535-10
3Mississippi State Bulldogs9133-13
4West Virginia Mountaineers5627-21
5Tennessee Volunteers8428-13
6@Florida Gators2817-27
7McNeese State Cowboys9555-4
8@Auburn Tigers3323-29
10Alabama Crimson Tide1916-26
11Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks8933-14
12Mississippi Rebels7528-17
13@Arkansas Razorbacks2528-37


Ole Miss

“When Houston Nutt left SEC Media Days on July 23, he couldn't have imagined what his next 10 days would be like. He was to meet with his backup quarterback, Raymond Cotton, who had hinted that he might transfer.”

“He made good on that hint, and Nutt had a decision to make. Jeremiah Masoli, the Oregon standout whose run-ins with the law led to his desire to transfer, was available. Since his degree was earned, NCAA rules allowed him to play immediately.”

“Was it worth it? Could Nutt and UM survive the negative publicity?”

“Eventually, they decided they could. Masoli said on Aug. 1 that he would attend Ole Miss and he was expected in Oxford as the Rebels began preseason practice.”

“All of the sudden, the perspective on Ole Miss' 2010 season changed dramatically.”

“Pre-Masoli, Rebel fans were bracing for a rebuilding year after wholesale graduation losses from a team that won nine games for the second consecutive season. One of the positions at which the Rebels were facing such rebuilding was quarterback, where Nathan Stanley was set to be the starter.”

“Masoli will have to earn the job, but he has had his name in the same sentence as "Heisman," so that shouldn't be too hard of a problem. So can the Rebels threaten for another top-tier bowl and another nine-win season? Can Masoli behave?”

“Those are certainly questions interesting and new questions for Nutt.”

- Foxsports.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Mississippi Rebels
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Jacksonville State Gamecocks9556-7
2@Tulane Green Wave8937-19
3Vanderbilt Commodores9539-11
4Fresno State Bulldogs6837-28
5Kentucky Wildcats7532-18
7@Alabama Crimson Tide515-38
8@Arkansas Razorbacks3234-41
9Auburn Tigers3027-33
10Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns9542-10
11@Tennessee Volunteers6526-23
12@LSU Tigers2517-28
13Mississippi State Bulldogs7934-20

Mississippi State

Miss State

“Last year's Egg Bowl win over Ole Miss improved Dan Mullen's final record in his first year at Mississippi State to a mere 5-7. But to him, it has set the tone for 2010. He has stirred up promise in all corners of the state, setting a season ticket sales record.”

“And he's pumped optimism through his team, too. They're believing they can win those games they came so close to winning last year. They're believing that the offense that Mullen brought is the ticket to success. And they're believing that late-season improvement on defense, coupled with a new coordinator, can make good on those promises, too.”

“Delivering on all this optimism, though, will be the challenge.”

“It's not as if the brash young Mullen doesn't have some tools. He returns four starters on the offensive line, his specialists, one of the two quarterbacks he used last year, a talented group of defensive linemen, linebackers and a promising secondary. But he has some question marks, too.”

“Is quarterback Chris Relf the dynamic passer and runner that Mullen needs to keep defenses honest? And who will replace Anthony Dixon at tailback? State went through the spring working as a committee there and few signs suggest that is about to change.”

“But now that he is in the second year of his system, there's at least one thing he won't have to worry about: his team's mental state. By all signs, he seems to have them all on board.”


Absolute Schedule/Records

2010 Mississippi State Bulldogs
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Memphis Tigers9539-16
2Auburn Tigers520-39
3@LSU Tigers913-33
4Georgia Bulldogs1222-34
5Alcorn State Braves9548-8
6@Houston Cougars729-44
7@Florida Gators515-40
8UAB Blazers7537-25
9Kentucky Wildcats5123-22
11@Alabama Crimson Tide59-45
12Arkansas Razorbacks1228-40
13@Mississippi Rebels2120-34

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Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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