Photo courtesy of Auburn athletics
We say it all the time: preseason predictions do not matter in the grand scheme of things. This 2021 season is a perfect example of that.
Few probably expected Texas A&M and Missouri to be towards the bottom of their respective divisions, or for Alabama to have a loss against an unranked opponent.
Regardless, here is how we expect the rest of the season to shake out in the SEC West:
1. Auburn 10-2 (7-1)
Call us crazy, but we have seen this before.
It is an odd-numbered year. Alabama is not as strong as it seems and the rest of Auburn’s games are winnable. Believe it or not, this sets up perfectly in Auburn’s favorite.
At the halfway point, Auburn sits at two losses and still controls its own destiny. Those two losses came to the unanimous No. 1 team in the country and the No. 7 team in the country on the road by one score. If a few balls bounced Auburn’s way, the Tigers could have defeated Penn State in Happy Valley.
Auburn has had a bit of a roller coaster ride thus far. It has shown signs of being a good football team, but has also had some pretty frustrating moments. Still, that is something Auburn has seen before.
In 2017, Auburn was sacked 11 times in a loss to Clemson and blew a lead against an LSU team that lost to Troy. After that, Auburn ran the table and made its way to the SEC Championship game.
This is an eye-popping prediction, but there’s something about this Auburn team. As long as Auburn can take care of business against Ole Miss and Arkansas, it will likely set up a winner-take-all Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
2. Alabama 10-2 (6-2)
Was the loss at Texas A&M a fluke or a sign of things to come? Either way, we will get answers soon.
Alabama showed some fight to get back into the game against the Aggies and head coach Nick Saban knows how to rally his troops better than anyone.
Still, this is a team capable of losing another game. It will happen at Auburn.
Well, the one thing Saban has never been able to do is to beat an Auburn team that is in contention.
It seems like Alabama is youthful at some key spots, and we saw that when Alabama’s pass-catchers dropped multiple passes against Texas A&M. With youth comes breakdowns.
3. Ole Miss 8-4 (5-3)
The Rebels got off to a hot start, but lost some of their momentum after a disappointing loss at the hand of Alabama. Fortunately for Ole Miss, the Rebels got some of that back this past weekend after winning a shootout over Arkansas.
It is hard to tell where Ole Miss is at this point, especially since the loss to Alabama looks worse than it originally did.
This upcoming game against Tennessee is one to circle as a potential upset. The Tennessee offense has been rolling, and the Volunteers might have enough defense to pull it off in a shootout.
Should Ole Miss come out victorious, and look good doing it, it would put itself in prime position to make a run in the SEC West.
4. Texas A&M 8-4 (4-4)
After what seemed to be a disastrous start, an 8-4 season with a victory over the top-ranked Crimson Tide should be plenty to cheer about for the Aggies.
Quarterback Zach Calzada stepped up in a big way against Alabama, and he shows tons of toughness every week. Will he be able to do it consistently over the course of a season?
The defense will hold, but will the offense be able to produce down the stretch? A&M has Auburn and Ole Miss to start November. We will see when those games roll around.
5. Arkansas 7-5 (3-5)
Arkansas got off to a super hot start with wins over Texas and Texas A&M, but those wins are starting to look less and less impressive.
The Arkansas offense has been rolling, but it has been inconsistent. The Razorbacks were shut out against Georgia in a 37-0 loss, a game which was deemed as the biggest of the week. Then they dropped 51 in a one-point loss to Ole Miss this past weekend.
It just does not seem like Arkansas is physical enough up front to make a realistic push toward Atlanta, but this season is still a huge step in the right direction for head coach Sam Pittman.
6. LSU 5-7 (2-6)
LSU is arguably the most disappointing team in the nation, and it is clear to see why.
From Week 1, we knew this LSU team had a lot of issues, but we all expected the Tigers to make adjustments. So far, they have not. In fact, they may look worse at this point of the season than they did in the opening loss to UCLA.
They have plenty of talent, but the coaching has not been there. For head coach Ed Orgeron, it’s beginning to look more and more like his final season in Baton Rouge.
7. Mississippi State 5-7 (2-6)
The Bulldogs have probably been the most up-and-down team in the SEC so far this season.
One minute they are losing to Memphis, and the next, they are beating Texas A&M, who would knock off Alabama a week later.
It is hard to say that the Bulldogs have a shot down the stretch, but they have a quarterback in Will Rogers that gives them the chance to make some noise.
The Bulldogs dropped one to LSU earlier this season, which is one that they probably should have and could have won. Unfortunately, that tiebreaker will leave them last in the SEC West standings.