Summer is almost upon us, preseason magazines are hitting the newsstands and college football is just around the corner.
That means it's prediction time. Well, sort of.
In the age of instant information, it'd be silly to set your preseason predictions in stone in late May or early June, considering there's still plenty of time for personnel moves in the offseason and a whole month of fall camp to learn about the new batch of stars in the SEC.
We can still cover our bases a little bit and give you some options. Our optimistic, pessimistic and realistic predictions for each SEC West team are in this slideshow.
Surprise teams emerge every season, and with those surprises, games that appeared merely decent in the spring and summer materialize into amazing ones come the fall.
For an (admittedly flawed) example of this, look no further than the 2013 SEC Championship Game between Missouri and Auburn. Neither of those teams was supposed to achieve much of anything last season; a bowl game would have been considered a success on both fronts. And yet, it is one of the games we will remember the most—and most fondly—from the year that was.
In this regard, picking the 14 most important games of 2014 seems like a doomed exercise. Of the list I have compiled, at least one will almost certainly take on lesser meaning by the time it arrives, while a game I have ignored will turn momentous.
But based on timing, opponent and what they mean to the broader landscape of college football—i.e., this is not just a list rivalry games—here are 14 games for '14 with the best chance of becoming important.
Chime in below, and let me know what I missed.
Recruiting is an inexact science, and not every highly regarded signee is going to become a star. But if guys like Shiro Davis and Josh Turner can finally step up, then it will make a world of difference for the Longhorns.
At a program like Texas, which is supposed to attract the best players in the country, you expect at least most of the top 10 members of each recruiting class to become a starter at some point in their careers. Usually, that group consists of the high-end 4-stars who should only take a year or two to find their paths.
If not, then it becomes reasonable to question whether those players will ever pan out. A year on the active roster, plus an additional redshirt season for the projects, should yield some results on the field. This is especially true if a player is supposed to be a starter in the upcoming season based on the current roster situation.
Sure, it can take more or less time. But if this guy is a top-10 recruit and you need him to start, he needs to be ready to do that earlier on in his career. That said, the need is less of a pressing matter if there is somebody in place to handle the job.
So to ask a former top recruit to finally step up, he must have been a top-10 recruit for his class, have spent at least one season on the active roster and must be an expected starter for the upcoming season.
The Longhorns have eight players fitting that description, and all of them need to have career years in 2014 for Texas to have a successful season.
Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.
The University of Tennessee has been on an absolute tear in the recruiting world as second-year head coach Butch Jones is trying to revolutionize the Volunteer program.
The 2015 recruiting class is already coming together nicely for the Vols, but there are three 5-star prospects on the horizon whom Jones would love to land.
Bleacher Report caught up with 247Sports.com National Recruiting Analyst JC Shurburtt to discuss where 5-star ATH Torrance Gibson, 5-star DT Tim Settle and 5-star DT Kahlil McKenzie stand with the Vols, and where he predicts they will end up.
Where does he believe Gibson will go?
Highlights courtesy of XOs Digital.
Rankings courtesy of 247Sports.com.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
We live in a world of extremes. Things are either the best ever or the worst thing possible; middle ground just doesn't seem to exist.
Often, we don't give much consideration to the very likely scenario that something will end up falling somewhere in between these two extremes. That just seems too hard to fathom, whereas the expectation of greatness or fear of abject failure is far more plausible and much easier to comprehend.
This is how many of us treat sports too. It's why we either expect nothing short of an undefeated record from our favorite team or just assume it will go winless and finish in last place.
We're nothing if not accommodating here at Bleacher Report, so we've put together some best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2014 season for every team in our most recent preseason Top 25 poll.
We're continuing our journey toward the start of the Pac-12 football season (under 100 days!) by taking a look at one of the most critical components to a successful team: road performance.
With all the pageantry of the sport that includes raucous home environments and shaky nerves for road teams faced with a key third down late in the fourth quarter, playing away from the friendly confines of your team's supporters can be difficult.
But you can't be anything more than average without being able to win on the road. Some teams will catch a break and not have to face more than one ranked opponent away from home. Others, as is the luck of the draw, will face several.
We're looking at the most difficult road game of 2014 for every Pac-12 team.
All info via espn.com