When given the opportunity, I find it appropriate to try and throw shade towards the SEC. However, it’s admittedly a mix of (a) abject boredom because the eventuality of the machine that is Alabama and the growing belief that talent at Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M kinda, and uh... Florida being not far behind means that the SEC will just win everything, and (b) some hatred towards the solidarity in all of this. That said, instead of trying to both preview the one matchup we have between the richest conferences of them all and pretending like I know anything, I reached out to Robert O’Neill of Team Speed Kills, our SEC outpost of the SBN world.
Robert was awesome and answered all of the questions from ‘please tell me why it’s ok to mock you all’ to ‘also punters’. In between is a decent rundown on what to expect from the S-E-C this year. Enjoy!
(1) Hello to our friends from the South(east). We’re coming up fast on the 2019 season, which means another year of us trying to throw some rather deep shade towards ‘SEC BIAS’ and things like ‘y’all cheatin’. All jokes aside, Alabama looks to be another murderdeathkill machine, and Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, and maybe even Florida are on some form of upswing. Tell me, what should we expect out of the SEC this year? Is it a foregone conclusion that Saban keeps the death march going? Is there a chance the SEC gets two playoff teams? Do we hate the SEC more this year than normal?
Robert Oneil: I think Alabama is definitely the SEC’s best team but it’s going to be a very strong year for the conference top to bottom, Georgia will continue to be successful as they have been in Kirby Smart’s tenure, LSU is poised to be a threat both in the conference and nationally, so long as quarterback Joe Burrow can continue his development. Florida won 10 games last year in their first season under Dan Mullen, and will look to keep that rolling. Even a team like Missouri, who had a couple down years in the past, looks to be a threat again with Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant (though they have a bowl ban at the moment, which they are appealing). This doesn’t even get into the teams like Auburn or Texas A&M, both of whom are always strong, competitive squads. Other fans like to mock the SEC, but it really is the most complete football conference in the country, in my opinion.
(2) The world generally belongs to Tua, but what other players in the SEC will we be talking about in October and beyond? Are there any other up and coming Heisman potentials? How about defensively? What random LSU defensive back is going to be a Top 10 pick this year?
RO: Obviously Tua’s the conference’s Heisman favorite, but I think a guy like D’Andre Swift (RB) at Georgia will also make his presence felt in the national race. Swift might be the second best running back in the nation, behind Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, going into this season. Georgia has a long pedigree of good running backs, and Swift is the next man up. As for LSU’s secondary: Watch out for Grant Delpit.
(3) The Big Ten and the SEC like to yell at each other from their entirely too large mountains of cash about literally everything. In your opinion, what ways are these two conferences similar and in what ways are they different? Moreover, in what ways are you right and our B1G founders wrong? If you don’t say ‘you all hate baseball’ I’m going to be sad.
RO: The B1G and SEC are far more similar than their fans want to admit. Both conferences have pretty clear pedigrees with 3-4 teams near the top every year, but only one being able to break through annually (Alabama and Ohio State, obviously), then as you go further down, there are an equal number of average teams and an equal number of bad teams. I also think they’re annually the two best conferences in the nation. I know Clemson and FSU have had recent runs of success, but the ACC is too top heavy to be mentioned among the SEC and Big Ten. They’re different in that I don’t think Big Ten fans have the sense of conference pride that SEC fans do. Generally if Alabama is in the title game, fans of the conference will root for them. I don’t see that happening with the Big Ten and Ohio State. Also, you all hate baseball.
(4) There is this situation currently where everyone knows that who you play matters, but in a playoff world that is still really human, it sort of doesn’t. As such, the Big Ten and SEC don’t see a ton of crossover. That said, I’d be a terrible fan blog if I didn’t point out that Purdue and Vandy are going to matchup, which brings me to the useful question of, “Does anybody on either side really care that this is a B1G-SEC matchup?” Also, what should we know about Vandy? Does anyone know anything about them? Consider this my mandatory question about the non-con slate.
RO: Purdue and Vandy is a wild matchup because I’m not sure you could think of a more random SEC and Big Ten game. It’s also a rare power conference vs power conference nonconference game that won’t really mean anything. Vandy is going to be bad, I think Purdue will be pretty solid this season, but this game won’t really be something that impacts the Playoff because, well, look at these two teams. As far as things to know about Vandy, stop running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and you’ll likely have a good shot at winning the game. Vandy’s starting Ball State grad transfer Riley Neal at quarterback this year, but Vaughn will likely do the heavy lifting on offense during nonconference play.
(5) And, because no set of questions are complete in the preseason without THE question, tell me who your best punter is... Also who is going to the CFP and who wins.
RO: 2018 Ray Guy Award winner and Texas A&M Aggie Braden Mann is back for his senior season, so he’s the best punter by default, right? As for the CFP, I’m gonna put Alabama and Clemson in there as a reflex at this point and I’ll go with Michigan and Oregon to round things out. Think we’ll get yet another Bama/Clemson title game though withthe Tide getting revenge this year.
Again, huge thanks to Robert for stopping by and being awesome. If you haven’t had a chance to, check out the work he and the team at Team Speed Kills are doing. Between heavy recruiting news, previews and updates, and general news about the SEC, there’s a lot of information to digest.