Beyond Alabama Football vs. Missouri, there are SEC games of interest and a couple of possible upsets this weekend.
Alabama football fans will join other SEC football fans in celebration of a new season beginning Sept. 26. SEC Week 1 is college football’s Week 4. Given doubts and delays about the 2020 season, the first SEC football games are highly anticipated.
Saturday will be interesting. Opening games are likely to provide new information about scheme and personnel changes for teams. There is a bunch of new in the SEC. The Alabama football staff revolving door slowed in Tuscaloosa. The Alabama Crimson Tide is in the minority of SEC schools with the same offensive and defensive coordinators as last season.
Four new SEC head coaches are joined by too many new coordinators to list. Eli Drinkwitz at Missouri, Sam Pittman at Arkansas, Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss and Mike Leach at Mississippi State are the SEC’s biggest wild cards. Coordinator changes may also have an impact on the 2020 season.
Ed Orgeron looks to Steve Ensminger (technically not new, but last season’s offense was Joe Brady’s) and Bo Pelini to replace Joe Brady and Dave Aranda. Kirby Smart has turned to Todd Monken to rejuvenate a predictable Georgia offense. Gus Malzahn will go through his almost annual “I’m handing the playbook” to new OC, Chad Morris. Like his predecessors, Morris will be the most second-guessed OC in college football. Gus will lead the second-guessing.
What new Coordinator will be under the most pressure? Call it a tie between Mike Bobo at South Carolina and Todd Fitch at Vanderbilt. Both have an added burden of performing well enough to save their bosses’ jobs.
Watching episode one of these changing dynamics will be a joy. Still, they will be a subtext to player performance and team outcomes. From a perspective of who wins Saturday, five of the seven games offer little likely drama. Based on The Action Network compilation, Alabama football, Georgia and TAMU are three-plus touchdown favorites. More precisely, the Aggies are favored by more than four touchdowns over the Commodores.
LSU and Florida are smaller but solid favorites. As much as Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin will try to surprise and shock LSU and Florida, neither school has the horses to pull off an upset. Crimson Tide fans seeking upset scenarios are left with Kentucky at Auburn and Tennessee at South Carolina.
Auburn is a 7.5 point favorite. The Kentucky Wildcats are better than many fans realize. Given his steady recruiting success in Lexington, Mark Stoops will have the talent advantage in some position groups. A couple of weeks ago, we argued the Wildcats will be a tougher out for the Crimson Tide than LSU. Will this be a shocker in SEC week one? Not likely, but a true ‘maybe’ applies.
In Columbia, SC, the Vols are favored by a scant three points. Jeremy Pruitt will look for his team to flex its perceived muscle. The Gamecocks need a win, coming off a 4-8, 2019. Muschamp’s team needs to win early, with little chance to knock off Georgia and Florida later in the season. This should be a great game to watch. Unfortunately, the eyes of Alabama football fans will be glued to another Columbia during the same time slot.
It will be an exciting first week for SEC football. On the two possible upsets discussed, consider this post as viewing recommendations rather than betting advice.