2018 SEC Football Predictions | Week 1
Overall Record (0-0)
New SEC Football Prediction. Same intense SEC Football Predictions drama.
For example: Jalen Hurts will arguably be the best de facto player-coach in the history of college sports since the days when Dick Vitale incessantly shouted the praises of Steve Wojciechowski and his 6.7-points-per-game average as a floor-slapping Duke Blue Devil.
We have 14 games to predict, so let’s waste no more time getting into the 2018 SEC Football season. Let the predicting begin.
All Times Eastern | Utilizing AP Rankings until the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Rankings are released in October.
Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018
Northwestern State (0-0) at Texas A&M (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
8:30 PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: The Jimbo Fisher era gets underway in College Station against the Demons from Natchitoches, Louisiana. Jimbo should be 1-0 headed into Week 2. If not, his career at A&M will finish with an 0-1 record.
PREDICTION: Texas A&M 58, Northwestern State 13
Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018
Coastal Carolina (0-0) at South Carolina (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Noon ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: This would be one heck of a baseball game. Since 2010, these two programs share three College World Series championships. Since 1492, these two football programs share zero national championships. All that can change in 2018. It’s a new season, so hopes and dreams of reaching the grandest prize in all the land remains fresh and real. For one week at least.
PREDICTION: South Carolina 44, Coastal Carolina 10
Ole Miss (0-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. Texas Tech (0-0)
Noon ET | ESPN | Houston
Quick word of wisdom: Texas Tech comes in as a 2.5-point favorite. I’m not sure if this because we know how good Red Raiders are or more about the questions surrounding Ole Miss in the first non-interim season for head coach Matt Luke. He is no longer interviewing to win the job. Luke is now the man saddled with the task of keeping the Rebels alive and relevant through the doldrums of NCAA purgatory.
Ole Miss can still be lethal on offense with senior quarterback Jordan Ta’amu throwing the ball around to guys like junior wide receiver A.J. Brown (75 catches, 1,252 yards, 11 TDs in 2017). Weapons like DK Metcalf (39 catches, 646 yards, 7 TDs in 2017) and DeMarkus Lodge (41 catches, 698 yards, 7 TDs in 2017) will prevent defenses from paying too much attention to Brown.
Gone are the days of the shark fin defense in Oxford, so the offense will need to be very consistent to win toss-up games like the opener in Houston. Texas Tech is actually bringing a defense to the field these days. Expect the Red Raiders defense to stop the Ole Miss offense when it counts to get the win in Houston.
PREDICTION: Texas Tech 41, Ole Miss 36
Austin Peay (0-0) at #3 Georgia (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
3:30 PM ET | ESPN
Quick word of wisdom: The biggest takeaway from this season-opener in Athens will be the people in attendance that can say, “We saw that dude coach when we played them.” The Governor’s 33-year-old head coach, Will Healy, is about two seasons from becoming the next hot coaching candidate. Don’t look for Austin Peay to shock the world in Athens this week as Kirby Smart and the ‘Dawgs look to use revenge as a main resource to build on the momentum of the 2017 season.
PREDICTION: Georgia 42, Austin Peay 0
Central Michigan (0-0) at Kentucky (0-0, 0-0 SEC )
3:30 PM ET | ESPNU
Quick word of wisdom: Kentucky finds itself back in the category of “They won’t win the East, but they might decide it” for the 2018 season. The Wildcats need to avoid a letdown on the week prior to yet another opportunity to end the longest losing streak in the nation (31 years) when they travel to Gainesville to take on Florida. There are cats who have lived all nine lives that never saw Kentucky beat Florida, so it’s understandable why the Wildcats will appear flat in this year’s season opener in Lexington.
PREDICTION: Kentucky 28, Central Michigan 17
#6 Washington (0-0) vs. #9 Auburn (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
3:30 PM ET | ABC | Atlanta
Big game word of wisdom: The last two games of Auburn’s 2017 season took place in the same place the 2018 season will begin. Hopefully, for Tigers fans, the outcome of the 2018 opener will be much different than 2017’s ending.
A confident Jared Stidham at quarterback for an entire season combined with a nasty defense makes for a really dangerous team on The Plains. This could be Gus Malzahn’s best Auburn team since his first season in 2013 when the Tigers were mere seconds away from a national championship.
The Huskies bring a one-two punch of experience and skill with the senior quarterback Jake Browning and senior running back Myles Gaskin. These two players are potentially the deadliest QB-RB tandem in all of college football. One way to solidify this claim will be moving the ball on an Auburn defensive front seven that devours running backs for sport.
The Huskies defense also loves to smother opposing running backs. Can Washington prove the PAC-12’s best version of run-stopping defense is as solid as one of the SEC’s best? If so, the Huskies leave Atlanta with a legitimate shot at an undefeated season and a second trip to the College Football Playoff in three years. Unfortunately for Washington, I just don’t think they can last four quarters with Auburn.
PREDICTION: Auburn 23, Washington 13
Tennessee (0-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. #17 West Virginia (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
3:30 PM ET |ABC | Charlotte
The Mountaineers are led at quarterback by Will Grier. Grier, a senior transfer quarter from Florida, was on his way to becoming the catalyst to an even more impressive first season under Jim McElwain before somehow being the one player in all of football to test positive for a performance enhancing drug. Jim McElwain’s offense never recovered at quarterback in his three years as head coach following Grier’s suspension and exit from Gainesville.
Before his sudden exit in 2015, Grier had defeated Tennessee on a 4th-and-14 miracle 63-yard catch-and-run touchdown to wide receiver Antonio Callaway. Grier’s most impressive win came just one week prior to his suspension when he completed 24-of-29 passes for 271 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 38-10 drubbing of No. 3 ranked Ole Miss two weeks following the Rebels win in Tuscaloosa. By the way, Alabama didn’t lose another regular season game until over two years later and still has yet to lose again in Tuscaloosa.
Is two paragraphs enough about the quarterback from another conference? Yeah. I agree. So what about Tennessee? This is the question even Vols fans are asking at this point. Ten years of inconsistency under Derek Dooley and Butch Jones forced Phillip Fulmer to come back to Knoxville to remove the rubble left in their wake. Naturally, Fulmer will be removing this rubble brick by brick.
New Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt can get hopes up early in Knoxville with a big win in the opener against a favored West Virginia. The only problem with a win in Charlotte on Saturday for the new Vols coach is the expectation to keep up the intensity and success over a 12-game season.
Pruitt won the press conference when introduced as head coach. He’s now going to be expected to win the game.
PREDICTION: West Virginia 41, Tennessee 21
UT Martin (0-0) at Missouri (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
4:00 PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: Pat Summitt graduated from UT Martin. I’ve written the aforementioned Pat Summitt fact in previous editions of SEC Football Predictions, but it bears repeating. UT Martin can play football pretty well on the FCS level, but the Skyhawks will not have the horses to keep up with what may be the most explosive offense in the SEC.
Heisman Trophy candidate Drew Lock has the perfect storm brewing for him as a quarterback in Columbia. Lock is a senior gunslinger with nine starters returning with him to an offense that helped him throw for an SEC-record and nation-leading 44 touchdowns in 2017. Barring a complete collapse on the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers should only be better on offense in 2018.
PREDICTION: Missouri 63, UT Martin 24
Eastern Illinois (0-0) at Arkansas (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
4:00 PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: The OVC will be hefting up the athletic budget with trips to SEC stadiums in Week 1 (Austin Peay at UGA). Eastern Illinois is catching an Arkansas team that will not be mistaken as a championship contender by anyone in 2018. Nonetheless, the Hogs and first year coach Chad Morris should get off to a winning start. The Cole Kelley era also officially begins on Saturday in Fayetteville. The sophomore quarterback has the size and the arm to make things interesting this season. Listed at 6-7, 258 pounds, Kelley is easily the largest quarterback in the SEC.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 45, Eastern Illinois 14
Charleston Southern (0-0) at Florida (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:30PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: Charleston Southern should provide the same morale boost for new Gators head coach Dan Mullen as Eastern Illinois will provide Chad Smith and the Razorbacks. Sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks gets the start Saturday evening in The Swamp. Gators fans are chomping at the bit (sorry) to see what Dan Mullen’s magic touch with quarterbacks can do with the raw talent of Franks. The defense should remain salty as well in 2018, so don’t be surprised to see Florida join South Carolina as a sleeper in the East.
PREDICTION: Florida 66, Charleston Southern 3
Stephen F. Austin (0-0) at #18 Mississippi State (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:30 PM ET | ESPNU
Quick word of wisdom: Yet another coach makes his debut at a new school in Week 1 as Joe Moorhead takes over a Mississippi State team that could shock the entire college football world and win the West with a little (okay, a lot) of luck. The Bulldogs may have hit the ceiling in 2017 when they played the perfect game at home against Alabama and still came up on the losing end. Although Dan Mullen would have left for a job like Florida anyway, it’s hard not to believe the loss to Alabama didn’t force Mullen to see the ceiling.
Moorhead brings a successful offensive philosophy to Starkville and the excitement will only grow larger as the season progresses.
PREDICTION: Mississippi State 48, Stephen F. Austin 10
MTSU (0-0) at Vanderbilt (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:30 PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: MTSU quarterback Brent Stockstill enters what seems like his 13th season under center for the Blue Raiders. Before the left-handed senior even takes a snap in 2018, Stockstill enters the season as the record holder in passing attemps, completions, yards, touchdowns, passing efficiency, passing yards per game, consecutive completioons, 300-yard passing games and 400-yard passing games. Stockstill is also the all-time leader in total offense.
Vanderbilt has a few more questions on offense, but quarterback Kyle Shurmur will be looking to break a few school records of his own in 2018. Experience at the quarterback position will help the Commodores as they navigate an always nasty SEC schedule.
Vanderbilt has won three consecutive games in this series while MTSU had won the previous three prior to the Commodores current streak.
This is a game Vanderbilt should win, but MTSU has enough firepower to get the win in Nashville.
PREDICTION: MTSU 31, Vanderbilt 28
Louisville (0-0) vs. #1 Alabama (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
8:00 PM ET | ABC | Orlando
Big game word of wisdom: Trigger warning for ‘Bama fans. You are about to read two of the most trauma-inducing words written in the last 28 years.
This is also a great test to determine if an Alabama fan over the age of 40 is a “bandwagon” fan. If he or she does not shutter at the very mention of he who should not be named, then they ain’t no ‘Bama fan.
Louisville is doing what many teams do before a game against Alabama. They are talking trash. Less to let everyone know how good they are, but more in hopes that if they repeat crazy things like the offensive line will “dominate Alabama’s defensive front” enough times, they might actually believe it.
Tua Tagovailoa will be the starting quarterback. Jalen Hurts is a great leader and will be a great leader on the sideline until he is called on to lead the offense when Tua will undoubtedly take a hit that knocks him out of a game or two.
Tua will impress everyone at times while making the type of errors that first-time starters make. It won’t take much for him to look human with everyone’s final memory of him being the perfect throw to DeVonta Smith to win the national championship over Georgia.
The most noticeable improvement for the Alabama offense with Tagovailoa under center will be the dominance of an already dominant run game.
The defense will favor the 2014 team at times if the front seven can’t pressure the quarterback. If anyone can expose a young secondary, it will be a Bobby Petrino team.
Louisville will get a few yards in the opener, but Alabama will impress in all phases.
PREDICTION: Alabama 38, Louisville 10
Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018
#8 Miami (0-0) vs. #25 LSU (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:30 PM ET | ABC | Arlington
Quick word of wisdom: The only thing more dangerous than a good LSU team is an LSU team coached by Ed Orgeron that no one takes seriously. Auburn’s only conference loss until the SEC Championship Game came against LSU in Baton Rouge only two weeks after Troy went into the same stadium at night and left with a victory.
Miami should be the better coached team in this one, but LSU’s defense is always good and the offense has enough weapons to strike when it counts on some nights. This night will be one of those nights as the Tigers upset the ‘Canes at Jerry’s World.
PREDICTION: LSU 33, Miami 27 Overtime
Eric Taylor is a contributor to FBSchedules.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricFromSpfld or contact him via email at [email protected]. Be sure to Like the Facebook page Facebook.com/EricTaylorWritesStuff for the latest on the 2018 SEC Football Predictions as well as all the things.