| FTBL 247's article "Predicting every SEC team's final record in 2019"


Will Alabama and Georgia meet in the SEC Championship for a second consecutive season or will another nationally-ranked team break into the title picture during the 2019 campaign?

From the outside looking in, it sure looks like a two-team league this summer when speaking in College Football Playoff scenarios. LSU, Florida and others will have opportunities to impress, but facing schedules not conducive to special seasons generates points of doubt.

In terms of importance, there's 10 SEC games we're looking at that will undoubtedly have conference championship and final four implications. With as many as six potential nationally-ranked teams to open the season, the road to a title will once again come through the South and prove why the SEC is the nation's toughest league.

Sifting through every team's schedule week by week, here's a brief capsule on all 14 projected final records this season and where the potential losses could come for each:

Mississippi State Bulldogs:
8-4, 4-4 — After a 4-0 start this season, the Bulldogs' first loss comes at the hands of Auburn on Sept. 28. One projection that won't be popular with LSU fans this season is that I'm picking an upset in Starkville on Oct. 19. That comes a week after a loss at Tennessee muddies up most opinions on Mississippi State this season. Seems like the perfect scenario for Joe Moorhead to right thing ship and gets things corrected against the nationally-ranked Tigers.

Missouri Tigers:
9-3, 5-3 — By SEC standards, Mizzou has the league's most favorable slate this season. The Tigers likely won't face a Top 25 team until they travel to Athens in November and should be the betting favorites in every contest leading up to that showdown. Will it matter? Mizzou's new offense with Kelly Bryant in charge will be a key storyline to watch early on.

Ole Miss Rebels:
4-8, 1-7 — Positive strides. That's the manta the Rebels are taking into a season of uncertainty by national standards. If Ole Miss can go unbeaten during the non-conference, Matt Luke's team can get to a bowl game with SEC wins over Arkansas and Vanderbilt. The opener vs. Memphis is an important game in getting to that 6-6 threshold.

Vanderbilt Commodores:
4-8, 1-7 — Anyone have a read on the Commodores this season? There's impressive talent returning at the skill positions, but this team might be irrelevant by the end of September if they can't find a way to win a game or two during a potentially disastrous opening stretch (Georgia, Purdue, LSU and Northern Illinois).

Kentucky Wildcats:
6-6, 2-6 — If Kentucky manages to win 10 games this fall, go ahead and give Mark Stoops national coach of the year. After heavy personnel losses, I'm projecting this team will be closer to six wins than 10. My guess here is that the Wildcats have their 5-year winning streak vs. South Carolina snapped in Columbia and a win over Arkansas on Oct. 12 equals their first SEC victory. That means Kentucky gets to a bowl game with wins over Vandy, UT Martin and Louisville to close out the regular season.

Arkansas Razorbacks:
5-7, 1-7 — Things will improve for Chad Morris at Arkansas, but unfortunately, a better season won't mean a bowl invite in 2019. The Razorbacks' lone SEC win? I'm projecting it comes against Mizzou in Little Rock during the regular-season rivalry finale. As with most teams in the West, the schedule is filled with landmines during conference play.

Texas A&M Aggies:
8-4, 5-3 — One of two teams nationally to play Alabama, Clemson and Georgia this season, the Aggies are facing an uphill climb to repeat last season's success which, in a way made, expectations for 2019 potentially unrealistic. Texas A&M doesn't have the depth yet to beat the Crimson Tide or Clemson + Georgia on the road, but it should have a shot to win every other game on the schedule.

South Carolina Gamecocks:
6-6, 3-5 — This is going to be a tough fall for Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks. They're facing the nation's toughest slate, a murderer's row filled with games against nationally-ranked teams and 50-50 matchups elsewhere. There's two games that are must-wins in terms of getting to a bowl game — the opener vs. Mack Brown and North Carolina along with the November tussle with Appalachian State. South Carolina will be favored in both, but that won't be the case in at least five games this fall.

Projected record: 8-4, 4-4
Most dangerous game: at Texas A&M
Toughest game: vs. Alabama
More: The Tigers' first SEC game comes at a sold-out Kyle Field where, ironically, they've won all three meetings since the Aggies entered the SEC in 2012. Auburn is 4-3 in the series with Texas A&M during that stretch, taking the edge last fall with a thrilling 28-24 victory. If Gus Malzahn and the Tigers have their sights set on competing with LSU and Alabama at the top of the division, they can't afford to start with a loss in conference play. There's an early-season trip to Gainesville that will be paramount to this team's worth as well. After beating Oregon during opening weekend, the Tigers will fall to mediocrity with three losses in four road games this season in addition to Alabama at the end. Malzahn saves his job with a win over Georgia, again, down the stretch.

Projected record: 10-2, 6-2
Most dangerous game: at LSU
Toughest game: at LSU
More: The Gators should be 5-0 and ranked inside the Top 10 when Auburn comes to Gainesville on Oct. 5, Florida's third SEC game of the season and one of the most important. If they can, at worse, split matchups with Auburn and LSU, the Gators' game vs. Georgia in Jacksonville may decide the SEC East (given Florida beats Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina like the Bulldogs will). Florida's trip to Mizzou could be a possible division-clinching game on Nov. 16 if all goes well. For now, we'll project Florida's two losses coming to LSU and Georgia.

Projected record: 8-4, 4-4
Most dangerous game: vs. Mississippi State
Toughest game: at Alabama
More: Eight wins for the Vols? I'm high on Tennessee's turnaround this season and am picking the over on the preseason win total (7). I like what Jeremy Pruitt's team returns at the skill positions and line play should be much-improved on both sides. The toss-up games that will sway Tennessee's season on average to better-than-expected come against Mississippi State and South Carolina at home. Win both of those and the Vols will be sitting pretty with a Florida bowl game bid. The projected losses? Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri.

Projected record: 10-2, 6-2
Most dangerous game: vs. Florida
Toughest game: at Alabama
More: There's no doubt about it — LSU must beat Florida in October to stay near the top of the SEC West championship race considering the meat of the schedule will be yet to come. The last four meetings are split between the two cross-divisional rivals and the victor often uses this one as a springboard to bigger and better things. There's a chance this game comes into play when Playoff selections are announced as well. We're giving the Tigers a nail-biting win over Texas in this projection with the two losses coming to Alabama and surprisingly, Mississippi State, in a mild upset coming off a win over Florida the previous week.

Projected record: 11-1, 7-1 (SEC Championship Game)
Most dangerous game: at Auburn
Toughest game: at Auburn
More: How does Georgia get back to the conference title game for the third consecutive season? If the Bulldogs handle their business in the East, chances are they'll be playing on the final weekend in Atlanta even if they slip up vs. nationally-ranked SEC West opponents Texas A&M or Auburn. Road games against Top 25 SEC teams haven't been kind to this program during Kirby Smart's tenure (2-3 in that scenario) and the chances are high they'll be faced with that same scenario down the stretch this fall on the Plains. And we're penciling in the September battle vs. Notre Dame as a win during the preseason, but that heavyweight fight pitting Top 10 teams won't be easy. The lone loss in this projection comes to either Auburn or Florida.

Projected record: 12-0, 8-0 (SEC Championship Game)
Most dangerous game: at Auburn
Toughest game: at Auburn
More: The schedule is extremely favorable by SEC standards and Alabama is one of five teams nationally favored by 10 points or more in every game. Two games to circle come on the road — Texas A&M and Auburn. The Tigers won the matchup two years ago on the Plains and fought valiantly for a half last season in Tuscaloosa before Tua Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide's passing game unloaded through the air. Alabama will likely be unbeaten and ranked No. 1 or 2 heading into this year's Iron Bowl, so the stage will be set for Auburn to capture college football's attention with a win — even if the Tigers aren't playing for an SEC West title. The home game against LSU in November could have division title implications as well.

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