Ah, the College Football year is almost upon us, and we all know what that means. It’s officially time to put our own predictions and projections out there for how the season will turn out, so that at the end of the season we can tell everyone, “See, look how right I was!” Or, in most people’s cases, they’ll have to explain that they’re only wrong because of (insert x, y, and z excuses here). This year, more than ever, people will have objections to their failed predictions because College Football has seemingly turned into THE WILD WEST overnight. Between the transfer portal, NIL, Oklahoma and Texas leaving the Big 12, UCLA and USC leaving the completely failed conference known as the Pac 12, and many intriguing new coaching hires, this season is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and uncertain ones in recent memory. With that said, let’s dive into my thoughts on what’ll happen throughout this year in the SEC, which will inevitably be 100 percent correct, no questions asked.
I know in most people’s estimations and talk shows for the SEC, they start with the West, but because I’m less confident in the East, we’ll go there first to get it out of the way. I’d also like to preface this division specifically by pointing out that at least 4 of these teams are a quarterback injury from likely derailing their seasons. And not to spoil anything, but those teams aforementioned are Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Surprise, surprise.
1. Georgia Bulldogs: 11-1 Overall (7-1 Conference)
The 2021 college football regular season has come to an end, but bowl mania will be underway beginning tomorrow. Just like last year, the Bucket Squad boys are back to give our predictions for the winners of every single bowl game that will occur over the next few weeks. We'll keep track of our individual records and a winner will be crowned following the conclusion of the College Football Playoff in January.
If you follow our SEC Betting Challenge (in the "Betting" section of the website), you probably already know that, unbelievably, Jacob pulled off an amazing comeback to knock off the nearly season-long leader, Ryne, via their respective picks in the SEC Championship Game. When asked postgame how he felt about his big win, Jacob simply responded, "Back 2 back like I'm Jordan, '96-'97." We have attempted to contact him several times since then for further comments, but we have been unable to reach him. Some reports say that he fell victim to a mafia-style hit due to his recent success in the BSSR SEC Betting Challenge. I am not legally allowed to name the alleged orchestrator of the slaying, but I will say that he was the third place finisher in our betting challenge this season.
Stay tuned for a full statistical analysis of our SEC bets to see how we performed collectively over the course of the season. Also, please immediately alert your local law enforcement if you have any evidence of Jacob Perry's whereabouts. While his friends aren't overly concerned, his wife and children are distraught.
Bahamas Bowl, Nassau, Bahamas
Middle Tennessee vs. Toledo
To preface this article, I'd like to begin by saying I was one of the attendees of the contentious Ole Miss - Tennessee face-off that garnered national recognition. Granted, the attention wasn't due to the gameplay or... we'll call it peculiar number of injuries sustained by Mississippi's defense or the questionably poor officiating, but rather the conduct and inexcusable behavior of around 300-400 or so fans in Neyland Stadium.
That said, it's now been a few days after the fact, and I've decided on rewatching a recording of the game to try and set the record straight of the events of that night in an (hopefully, though not likely) unbiased perspective. Many in the media assumed the onslaught of debris entering the field was solely based on a 4th and 24 play where the ball was spotted unfavorably for the Vols (even though I'm in the minority of fans who believe he was short of the line to gain). No. This is much more than that. It deals with the culmination of the curse laid upon Tennessee athletics since Lane Kiffin's appearance here as head coach, specifically being indefinitely on the receiving end of historically improbable and laughably unfortunate referee decisions and downright unlucky plays, as well as the downward spiral of the football program due to complete ineptitude of former Tennessee Athletic Director regimes (well, as well as other decision makers and boosters with too much input/power). But most importantly, last Saturday - where we didn't have our best running back, lost our best lineman on our first series of the night on a play that didn't even count, were down to walk ons playing significant minutes, and battling an unprecedented number of âinjuriesâ to Ole Miss defenders during our offensive drives... Again, despite all of that, we still should have and could have come out of that game victorious. And then, with 54 seconds left, the tension boiled over and chaos ensued.
With all of that, this article will only focus on A FEW OF the questionable calls in favor of Ole Miss, but more importantly I will be documenting all of the injuries sustained to Lane Kiffin's team (as well as time left, the result of the play, and whether the player returned to the game). Without further ado, let's dive in.
POV: Butch Jones has recently been fired, and we're in the midst of one of the most chaotic, circus-like coaching search carousels the sporting world has ever witnessed. There are so many "candidates" being thrown around hourly it's almost impossible to keep up. Heck, I'm pretty sure General Neyland himself was rumored to be in the running to return from the grave to lead the Volunteers. And after all the madness, we ended up with… Jeremy Pruitt? One of the few names unspoken of in the search until it came to light they’d reached an agreement with him. An uneasy optimism ensued, hoping to be once again in the promised land of college football. And although we all know too well the outcome, we can't blame ourselves for having hope.
Ah, bowl season. A time of year where we get a chance to watch atypical matchups and determine which conference will own the end of season bragging rights. Whether or not your team accepted a bowl bid this time around, there are a plethora of intriguing games to look out for, most noticeably within the College Football Playoff (obviously). Our Bucket Squad experts are picking the winners of each game of the bowl season, including a prediction for the National Championship Game's competitors and final score. The expert who picks the most games right will be awarded an undisclosed cash prize that they all agreed to pitch in on prior to the start of the first game on December 21. Good luck to everyone and may the best man win. Let's take a look at each game's picks.
Myrtle Beach Bowl, Conway, SC
North Texas vs. Appalachian State
This weekend only allowed us eight teams to watch, as the six other teams either had their schedules moved around to not play this week or were already on their bye. In these writeups I’ll do my best to keep those teams in a more stagnant position as I don’t believe it’s fair to them to be bumped down when they weren’t able to support their claim and fight for their position. Of course, say, if Alabama would have lost to Tennessee last weekend, (hard to imagine, but at least try for the hypothetical situation) clearly, Tennessee would’ve overtaken Arkansas in the rankings.
1. Alabama (5-0) (No Change) – Head Coach (HC): Nick Saban
Offensive Coordinator (OC): Steve Sarkisian – Defensive Coordinator (DC): Pete Golding
Alabama goes into week 6 with a matchup against a floundering Mississippi State team off a bye. Oh, and before I forget, Alabama destroyed Tennessee 48-17 in a game they could’ve sleepwalked through. Unfortunately, though, it appears Jaylen Waddle will miss the remainder of the season after an ankle injury during the opening kickoff. Hopefully for him, he recovers swiftly and fully, because he has a bright career ahead of him. That said, Alabama is still doing Alabama things. Their games have seen them post point totals of 38, 52, 63, 41, and 48. Their secondary has still been prone to giving up big plays, though, so that might affect them against better teams. Regardless, they were able to go through the motions this week, so we’ll see how bad they beat State next week going into their bye the week following.
I think going forward for these weekly articles my plan is to do a more commentary-based write-up. It will probably be something along the lines of listing the teams’ current strengths and weaknesses into what they’ve accomplished so far in the year. That’s an important point, because these power rankings are only based on accolades, not which teams I believe are better. I will, however, always put my forecasted SEC regular season predictions at the end of every article. This article will also provide a special treat for you folks, because it will include my first ever rant about the Tennessee Volunteers program’s current state of affairs (I’m unashamedly biased towards them and have strong feelings towards their current situation).
1. Alabama (4-0) (UP 1) – Head Coach (HC): Nick Saban
Offensive Coordinator (OC): Steve Sarkisian – Defensive Coordinator (DC): Pete Golding
Alabama is now 4-0 on the season with wins over the second and third best teams in the SEC. To this point, it appears their offense will be able to outscore any team regardless of how many points their defense allows. They’re winning games by an average of 20 points a game, and they’re second in the nation in scoring. Their offensive stats week-in-and-week-out are unparalleled and we can just about cast them into the SEC Championship game right now. Mac Jones and company are more than enough firepower to get the job done against any team (seeing as they just hung 41 on the best defensive team in college football).
Three weeks have gone by in the SEC season and we’re starting to see trends emerging. Teams streaking, teams slumping, and teams somewhere in between. My goal here is to give an idea and understanding of how your favorite team is doing relative to the rest of the conference. We will go through this together weekly with myself giving you two lists. The first one, Weekly Power Rankings, is how teams have performed up to this point in the season, while my second list will show my predictions for how each team will ultimately finish in conference play. I will, of course, provide short detailed points as to my rationale for each spot. Expect fluid movement week to week, especially in the weekly power rankings list, because as intuitive and knowledgeable as I may be, not everyone can be correct 100% of the time (as much as my dad may like to believe he is).
1. Georgia (3-0) – Head Coach (HC): Kirby Smart
Offensive Coordinator (OC): Todd Monken – Defensive Coordinator (DC): Dan Lanning
Georgia has the best resume by far to this point in the season. They’ve dominated in their wins in all three games, including against Tennessee and Auburn. They’re only giving up 237 yards per game on defense and watching the film makes it appear that they have 15 players on the field at all times. There are hardly any holes to exploit for a team with some of the best athletes and schemes in college football. Lanning is earning his paycheck. Meanwhile, the offense is doing exactly what’s needed to get the job done. They boast a +1.7 net yard per play (YPP) differential, while Stetson Bennett has a 5:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. I said at the end of last season they'd win it all this year (before the offseason QB debacle) so I may be biased about this team's potential. Not likely. Next week will determine their regular season.