LSU: I've never gone back and forth on Ed Orgeron. I consider him no more than a passable interim coach. With another big season, I might need to rethink. Coach O's Tigers were rather good last year, and not just on defense. Their offense – as overseen by Steve Ensminger, who apprenticed under Ray Goff – proved capable of making the more-than-occasional first down, and their quarterback, the Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow, returns. Most of LSU's big SEC games will be played in Baton Rouge. The exception, alas, is Alabama.
Texas A&M: The Aggies will win the West within three years. Jimbo Fisher is a big-time coach at a program with big-time resources; he won a national championship in a similar setting. Another plus: Alabama plays in College Station this year. A Saturday to circle: A&M's Nov. 23 date in Athens could be the key game on the SEC schedule. Both teams could be playing for division titles that day. Don't say you weren't warned.
Missouri: A smart man who knows a lot about SEC football – he coached in the league – sees the Tigers as a greater Eastern threat than Florida. The Gators play Auburn and LSU from the West; Mizzou gets Ole Miss and Arkansas. Missouri pulled off one of those waiver-wire deals, landing transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant, who'd been rendered redundant at Clemson by Trevor Lawrence. If the Tigers get past Wyoming and West Virginia in the season's first two weeks, they could start 8-0. The rather massive catch is that Mizzou, as it stands, is ineligible for postseason and therefore ineligible for the SEC title game. An appeal of the NCAA ban is pending.
Kentucky: OK, I'm an alum. I'm also an alum who covered the last UK team that won 10 games. I recall how that turned out. From 10-1 in 1977 with Art Still and Derrick Ramsey, the Wildcats went 4-6-1, 5-6, 3-8, 3-8 and 0-10-1. Mark Stoops has done a fine job, and I doubt his team falls that far. But, as happened 41 years ago, the Kentucky team that won 10 games lost its best offensive player (Benny Snell) and best defender (Josh Allen). I'd be surprised if the Big Blue finishes above fourth.
Auburn: I'd be more than surprised if Gus Malzahn is coaching here next year. He beat Georgia and Alabama – the teams that played for the national title – over two giddy weeks in 2017, after which he levied Arkansas' interest into a $49 million contract extension. On cue, the schizo Tigers finished the 2018 regular season 7-5, prompting reports that Auburn wanted to fire the guy it just re-upped, which is not atypical for Auburn. Trouble was, it would have cost $32 million to make him go away, spawning further reports that the school was demanding that Malzahn take less money than contractually owed to keep his job, which sounded nuts. Malzahn is still in place, but that seems a temporary thing. The schedule is frightful. By October, you'll be hearing rumors that Urban Meyer is buying a house on Sougahatchee Lake.