Early Lean: Alabama 65.4 percent Chance of Winning
Why? The Tide returns nearly their entire defense from a unit that ranked top five nationally last year. QB Greg McElroy looks like a suitable replacement for the departed John Parker Wilson.
Why Not? Frank Beamer is one of the few coaches that can match Nick Saban in game preparation. Also, the Hokies won’t be underestimating ‘Bama like Clemson may have last year.
South Carolina at NC State Sept. 3
Early Lean: NC State 53.3 percent
Why? The Wolfpack were a much different team at the end of last year than in the beginning when the Gamecocks throttled them. QB Russell Wilson is the difference maker for NC State and he should be healthy for this game.
Why not? Steve Spurrier is still one of the best game planners when given ample time. It will come down to his team executing well, which they have not done as much as expected over the last four years.
Early Lean: Georgia Tech 69.8 percent
Why? The Yellow Jackets return 19 of the 22 starters from the end of last season and will have a full offseason to implement more of Paul Johnson’s offense.
Why not? The Bulldogs defense will have seen a similar offense having practiced against Dan Mullen’s scheme during the spring and preseason. Whether or not they have the talent to stop it is the question.
Georgia Tech at Vanderbilt Oct. 31
Early Lean: Georgia Tech 68.9 percent
Why? Georgia Tech is the more talented team and will catch Vandy in the middle of a stretch that includes Georgia, at South Carolina, and at Florida.
Why not? Vandy was very good at forcing turnovers last year and fumbles can be a plenty in an option/running offense.
Florida State at Florida Nov. 28
Early Lean: Florida 86.7 percent
Why? The Gators have dominated FSU as of late, especially in the Swamp. They have a big talent advantage and a coaching edge, too.
Why not? Florida falls victim to the preseason hype, does not live up to expectations, and does not take a better than expected FSU team seriously.
Georgia at Georgia Tech Nov. 28
Early Lean: Georgia Tech 53.7 percent
Why? Georgia Tech beat Georgia in Athens last year and that was with Matt Stafford having a career day. Willie Martinez is still the Georgia DC, too.
Why not? The Yellow Jackets fall victim to too many pats on the back and cannot handle the favorite role against a very good team. See Chick Fil-A Bowl.
Clemson at South Carolina Nov. 28
Early Lean: Clemson 50.1 percent
Why? Clemson just seems to have South Carolina’s number in this rivalry. Otherwise, the teams have very comparable talent and coaching staffs.
Why not? South Carolina is due for a victory and they are at home.