We're inching our way to summertime, and that means we're thirsting for football. It's so close, yet so far.
And with that thirst come questions and wide-ranging proclamations about the season ahead. You might even call some of those proclamations "bold predictions."
That's why we're here today, to talk about some projections I have for the season ahead. I'll note that I did pretty well with my bold predictions heading into the 2014 season. Just check out 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9.
Now, those predictions came on the eve of the season. The ones I have for you today are happening before summer workouts even get going. A little early? Maybe. Didn't we just have some 2015 predictions a couple of months ago? Yes. But we're in the dog days of college football, and what's wrong with a few more predictions before we really know what's going on in the league?
Without further ado, here are my post-spring bold predictions for the SEC in 2015:
1. The SEC will have eight 1,000-yard rushers: Last season, the SEC had seven players rush for more than 1,000 yards. You can add one more to that list in 2015. The obvious choices are Nick Chubb, Jonathan Williams, Alex Collins, Leonard Fournette, Jalen Hurd, Derrick Henry and Russell Hansbrough. All of them but Henry and Hurd hit 1,000 yards last year, but that shouldn't be a problem this fall. Plus, with so many quarterback questions, teams are going to run early and often. Keep an eye on whoever takes the job at Mississippi State and Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott. Also, whoever starts at Auburn will hit 1,000 yards; bank on it.
2. Brandon Allen will have the SEC's highest QBR: Now, this isn't to say that Allen will have the best stats or throw for the most yards, but I think Allen will be one of the most efficient passers around. He has really taken to new Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos' offense and Allen has a lot more confidence in himself. The one thing Allen does well is take care of the ball (five interceptions last year), and he won't be asked to do a lot, as in he won't be put in dangerous situations with that powerful running game. With receiver Keon Hatcher coming on strong this spring and juco stud Dominique Reed on the way, Allen should have more fun throwing the ball and have more talented options.
3. The SEC's two-year national championship drought will end: After seven straight BCS titles, the SEC has come up dry the past two seasons, but that will stop this season. Yes, you heard it here first: The SEC will win the national championship in January 2016. Who it will be, well, that's not for me to say right now because it's May and I reserve the right to make you all sweat. My favorites are Auburn and Georgia; we'll just leave it at that. Maybe, Bama has another run in it or there's a dark horse out there, but the SEC will win it all this coming season.
4. Missouri won't win three straight SEC Eastern Division titles: Now, Tigers fans, I know you have a hate-hate sentiment toward me, but I honestly just see a few more concerning holes on this team. There is no Shane Ray or Markus Golden waiting in the wings at defensive end. The receivers are athletic, but very unproven, and there's been too much movement and uncertainty at left tackle. I think Maty Mauk will be better, but I think Georgia takes care of business this year, unlike last season.
5. Greg Sankey will grab the mike after the SEC championship game and say "That's how you declare One True Champion": I must admit that Sam Khan suggested this one, and it's just too good. I don't know Sankey, who will take over for outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive later this year, very well, but I know he shares my interest in flipping tires and doing intense cardio. So, I can imagine he'd provide a great sound bite like this. And, really, he should. Hi, Big 12!
6. Dominick Sanders will lead the SEC in interceptions, but Vernon Hargreaves III will lead the league in passes defended: I like everything about what these two can do on the field. Sanders will prove to be one of the most electrifying defensive backs in the country, while Hargreaves is arguably the best cover corner in the nation. Sanders started 13 games last season and finished the year with two picks in the bowl game. He's such a firecracker in Georgia's defensive backfield that I think he'll be an excellent ball hawk this fall. As for Florida's Hargreaves, he has just six career interceptions, but he's defended 30 passes in two years.
7. Will Muschamp will bleed from an on-field celebration with a player: Coach Boom will be back roaming Auburn's sideline as the Tigers' defensive coordinator. Even with all the facial expressions and cursing he did as Florida's head coach, he was more reserved than he was as a coordinator. He was about head-butting, jumping/smashing into players and even bled after a collision with one of his guys. Let it out, Coach Boom. Let it out!
8. Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray will both see significant snaps this fall: Allen is Texas A&M's starting quarterback right now, but the arrival of Murray, the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 ESPN 300, will complicate that. He's opting out of the MLB draft, which means he and Allen will go toe-to-toe during fall camp, and Murray is just too talented not to see the field. I think he'll play a significant role for the Aggies this fall, whether it's taking over as the starter or being a change-of-pace quarterback alongside Allen.
9. Nick Chubb will win the Heisman Trophy: He made eight starts last season. He rushed for more than 100 yards in all of those starts. He finished the season second in the SEC with 1,547 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry. He's the best running back in the country and will be even better as the Bulldogs' full-time starter.
10. Alabama won't win 10 regular-season games for the first time since 2010: I know Nick Saban just reloads, but I think this team will take a couple of steps back in 2015. Hey, it happens. It's not like Alabama is falling off the face of the Earth, but I think the Tide will be looking up in the standings to at least one team in the West come December. Questions at quarterback, offensive line and in the secondary are a little concerning right now. Plus, Alabama has road trips to Georgia, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn. A 9-3 regular season like we saw in 2010 wouldn't surprise me.