College Football: Finally, full schedules & full stadiums

Alabama Living Magazine

By Brad Bradford

Last fall, college football fans seemed to be in a constant state of confusion: Will there be games? How many games? Will fans be able to attend? What about masks? Will there be a playoff? Will coaches get fired during a shortened season?

Thanks to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey’s leadership, a 10-game conference-only schedule proved the SEC’s slogan to be true: “It Just Means More.” Fans from schools up north that never make the playoffs claim that football in the South is a religion. Our answer: “It’s bigger than that.”

ALABAMA 2020 RECAP:

Death, taxes and Nick Saban’s quest for excellence all seem to be a given. Coach Nick has come close to admitting that last year’s National Championship team was his favorite. Questions about quarterback Mac Jones were answered quickly. The offense led by DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris set numerous records. Even though the defense led the SEC in points allowed, Tide fans felt as though the defense had a down year.

AUBURN 2020 RECAP:

Coach Gus Malzahn entered last fall on borrowed time. The administration and Tiger fans wanted to see major improvements in recruiting, physicality and a vision for the future. Losing again to rivals Georgia and Alabama was tough. Getting beat by a weak South Carolina team and Texas A&M was just too much. A change was needed at the top and was made.

Auburn has too much tradition and pride to hover around #4 in the SEC West behind Bama, Texas A&M and LSU. The other three teams in the West (Ole Miss, State and Arkansas) are on an upswing also.

SEC East Prediction:

1. Georgia 2. Florida 3. Kentucky 4. Missouri 5. Tennessee 6. South Carolina 7. Vanderbilt. The bottom three fired their coach last fall and hope to move up with the Big Boys.

Georgia returns a defense that led the nation in rushing defense last year. The Bulldogs have finally found their quarterback in transfer J.T. Daniels. He will be on the Heisman watch. The Dogs’ crossover games are against Arkansas and Auburn, both rebuilding teams. Florida will suffer the same fate that Georgia did last fall: having to play Alabama in a crossover game. The Gators lost too much at quarterback and tight end to beat Georgia and the Crimson Tide.

SEC West Prediction:

1. Alabama 2. Texas A&M 3. LSU 4. Ole Miss 5. Auburn 6. Mississippi State 7. Arkansas. Auburn has a new staff and has to play Georgia in its annual crossover game. Ole Miss draws Vandy and Tennessee.   

As long as Saban is recruiting and walking the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, it is hard to pick against them. He continues his famous “plug and play” system. Replacing coaches and NFL draft picks doesn’t seem to slow down the Crimson steamroller. Jimbo Fisher proved last year that the Aggies have closed the gap in the West. After an early season loss to Alabama, A&M finished #5 and should have been in the playoffs instead of Notre Dame.

ALABAMA Prediction:

the Kickoff Classic against Miami in Atlanta will be competitive. The early road game at Florida will favor the Tide against a young offensive line and a new quarterback. Bama should breeze through undefeated until the match in College Station Oct. 9. The trap game will be the previous week when Ole Miss comes to Tuscaloosa. This year’s Iron Bowl is in Auburn. Bo Nix won that home game as a freshman quarterback in 2019. Regular season record: 12-0. Playing undefeated Georgia in the SEC championship game.

AUBURN Prediction:

the Tigers have to travel to Penn State in the third week. It’s tough to win in Happy Valley. Most pundits have Auburn with a 7-5 record in Bryan Harsin’s first year. Probable losses in addition to Penn State would be Texas A&M on the road and at home to Georgia and Alabama. To reach seven wins, they have to win one of the “toss-up” games with LSU and Ole Miss. Look for a loss to Lane Kiffin’s imaginative offense while beating the Bayou Tigers. Bo Nix will prosper under Mike Bobo as his quarterback coach. Regular season record: 7-5.

PLAYOFF Prediction:

Same as always–pencil in Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State for three of the slots. Other possibilities are Georgia, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oregon, Iowa State, North Carolina and Indiana.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

Alabama 35, Georgia 31 in a repeat of the SEC championship game.

Brad Bradford is a former football staff member at Alabama and Louisville. His wife Susan Moseley Bradford is a former Auburn cheerleader. His blogs can be found at hairinabiscuit.com. Brad is also an author and motivational speaker. Contact him at coachbradbradford@gmail.com

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