By Luke Robinson
Prediction pieces are generally considered the laziest form of writing. Instead of analyzing moments that actually have happened, the author can just throw random crap against the wall in hopes that something sticks so that he will later be called a modern day prophet. It seriously reeks of a writer who just didn’t want to put a lot of thought into 800 or so words. In other words, a “predictions” article is right in my wheelhouse. So without further ado, here are some of mine on the eve of football season:
1. Missouri wins the SEC East (again). The world will pick Georgia for this spot and with good reason. The Dawgs have plenty of bite and all of the motivation they need for a title run. If the Bulldogs were a city, they would be Las Vegas: all kinds of bright lights and talent with the opportunity of riches beyond your wildest dreams in one little spot. The only problem is you usually come back from Vegas dazed and disappointed, wondering how you lost. Meanwhile, Mizzou is Branson. It doesn’t have the promise of life-changing wealth, but there is some substance there. It may not be as exciting as Vegas, but there is less risk (as evidenced by the fact that Mizzou plays Texas A&M and Miss. State from the SEC West while UGA takes on West favorites Bama and Auburn). The Tigers may—nay WILL—lose to Georgia in Athens, but comparing the two schedules makes me believe Mizzou winds back up in Atlanta for a third straight time.
2. Alabama wins the SEC West (again). A Missouri/Bama rematch in the SEC title game has all of the allure of a Republican presidential candidate swimsuit calendar, but get ready, because it’s a comin’. Alabama’s QB questions make this more of an out-on-a-limb pick, I suppose. I just don’t think the Tide depends on its quarterbacks like other teams for success. That is not to undersell the jobs that McElroy, McCarron, or Sims did recently (or Watts and Barker, for more historical examples). It’s just that in Tuscaloosa the QB doesn’t necessarily have to be the show. For example, in Auburn’s last three SEC title runs in ’04, ’10, and ’13, the QB play was nothing short of extraordinary. Without those respective quarterbacks, those teams would have easily seen three to five losses. With Bama’s recent runs, I am not sure different QBs could not have leaned on the running games and defenses for similar results. Again, this comment is not meant to knock those players; they certainly played integral roles. It simply illustrates the point that whomever the Tide’s main man is, he doesn’t have to be ALL-SEC to lead the team to a title considering the talent he inherits.
3. Texas A&M surprises. Auburn and A&M have a lot in common when it comes to 2015: Both have high opinions of their new quarterbacks. Both have fun, up-tempo styles. Both have new, well-regarded defensive coaches. Both even have their best sets of receivers in years. Why is it then that A&M, a team that beat Auburn on its own field last year, is generally ranked so much lower than the Tigers? Considering the Aggies host AU this season, I am not so sure A&M doesn’t finish ahead of Auburn in the standings when all is said and done.
4. Mississippi State looks to the future. Not the immediate future—more of a two to three years down the road kind of deal. MSU will finish last in the West this year, but in a not-too-distant time the Bulldogs will be riding higher than Willie Nelson’s hot air balloon. Plot twist: They will do it using players from Alabama. Keith Mixon and Nick Gibson and Justin Johnson and Anfernee Mullins. All these players (and several more) from this state that were passed over by AU and UA for one reason or another. The Tide and Tigers recruit really, really well nationally and they have on-the-field results that are the envy of everyone. But Miss. State has picked up on something: Alabama is one of only six states that had double-digit players from its high schools taken in the NFL draft. That’s a strong statement for our state and MSU will be as big of a beneficiary as anyone.
5. None of these predictions will be correct. Ironically, this prediction has the best chance of being right.