We’re just days away from Week 0 and the start of the college football season. While most of the country has to wait until Labor Day weekend for their football season to start, Vanderbilt gets SEC Football officially underway on Saturday. With SEC football almost here, I decided to give you my 10 bold predictions for the 2023 SEC football season.
10 bold predictions for the 2023 SEC football season
1. Tyler Buchner wins the Alabama QB job coming out of the Texas game
Alabama has one of the most intriguing QB competitions in the country. The Tide are ranked #4 in the nation in the preseason, but also truthfully they have any of four QB’s who could win the starting QB job. All in all, there are five scholarship QB’s on the roster in returners Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson, Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner, and freshmen Dylan Lonergan and Eli Holstein. Milroe, Simpson, Buchner, and Lonergan are all in the mix for Bama just over a week away from the start of the season.
While Alabama plays Middle Tennessee Week 1, I believe the ultimate determining factor in who their starting QB will be is their Week 2 clash with Texas. Alabama will likely play multiple QB’s against MTSU, but the Texas game will be the ultimate test.
Whether he wins the job out of camp or is a replacement against the Longhorns, I believe that Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner will emerge from the Texas game as Alabama’s starting quarterback (even if someone else gets the start)
As we saw in 2016 (Jalen Hurts replacing Blake Barnett in the opening game of the season against USC), 2017 (Tua Tagovailoa replacing Hurts in the National Championship), and 2018 (Hurts replacing Tagovailoa in the SEC Championship Game), Nick Saban is not afraid to make a QB change when needed. I think Jalen Milroe (most people’s favorite) is immensely talented and Dylan Lonergan has the highest potential of the group, but ultimately I believe Tyler Buchner’s experience in Tommy Rees’ system will ultimately be what earns him the starting job. Buchner’s numbers from Notre Dame aren’t great (56.8% completion %, 949 passing yards, 6 passing TD’s, 8 INT’s, 459 rushing yards, and 7 rushing TD’s), but again he has spent the last two years under Rees and there is obviously a reason that Alabama brought him in late in the process.
2. The SEC’s top two Heisman finishers won’t be Quarterbacks
The SEC’s top three finishers in 2022 were QB’s (Stetson Bennett (4th), Hendon Hooker (5th), and Bryce Young (6th)). However, those three are all now in the NFL (along with Anthony Richardson). A mixture of those top QB’s going pro and a lot of really talented non-QB’s returning is the reason that I predict that SEC football will have two non-QB’s who finish in the top 6-8 of the Heisman voting, edging out the conference’s top QB’s.
Whether it be Quinshon Judkins, Raheim “Rocket” Sanders, or Jarquez Hunter at running back (or someone else). Brock Bowers, Antwane “Juice” Wells Jr., or Malik Nabers as pass-catchers. I would not even count out Harold Perkins, Kool-Aid McKinstry (who also serves as a returner), or Dallas Turner on defense. There’s a strong group of non-QB’s in the SEC that I think could push into the top of the Heisman Trophy voting.
Part of what makes this such a bold prediction is just how QB-dominant the Heisman Trophy has become. In fact, 11 of the last 13 winners have been QB’s (interestingly enough, the last two non-QB winners both come from the SEC (DeVonta Smith in 2020 and Derrick Henry in 2015)). However, this year I think is the perfect mixture for SEC non-QB’s to finish at the top.