Each week I rank the teams in the SEC 1-14. This week, we present the preseason estimation of where each team will end up and it definitely won’t end up being hilariously wrong at the end of the season nope not at all.
1. No. 2 Alabama
You have to kind of wonder if Alabama is losing its edge. First the Tide lose to Auburn, then to Oklahoma and Bob Stoops in the Sugar Bowl, and then a petition on change.org claiming Chris Davis was out of bounds in the Iron Bowl and overtime of that game needed to be played only got 697 signatures. Frankly, that’s embarrassing for the once-proud fan base of the Crimson Tide.
As public shaming for that embarrassment, let’s all watch hundreds of Alabama fans run across the Bryant-Denny field to get in line for Nick Saban’s autograph – fondly known as the Gump Run – set to the Auburn radio call from the Kick Six.
2. No. 5 Auburn
The Tigers lose three important pieces from last year’s miracle season in defensive leader Dee Ford, running back Tre Mason – who broke Bo Jackson’s single-season rushing record – and Kick Six hero Chris Davis. That said, Nick Marshall looked far more comfortable passing the ball in spring practice, which could add yet another threat to an already dynamic offense.
Given how tough the West will be every this year, the Tigers could easily fall back to the pack and finish with four or five losses. Gus Malzahn is also a damn wizard in a sweatervest, so expect the Tigers to run for 320 yards a game and win 10 games with no regard for human life whatsoever.
3. No. 12 Georgia
A-aron is gone, but it might not matter if Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are healthy. The Bulldogs have already celebrated one major championship this year, and another one could be around the corner if Bobo would just run the dang ball.
The secondary is going to be a huge concern for the Bulldogs, but new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is one of the best DB coaches in the entire country. At the very least, we probably shouldn’t expect anything like The Miracle at Jordan-Hare to happen again. Right?
Disclaimer: I am a fan of both Georgia and Vanderbilt, and these rankings will probably reflect those biases given my delusional optimistic nature.
4. No. 9 South Carolina
Steve Spurrier is fresh off a summer filled with golf and disparaging comments about Clemson, which are my favorite things Steve Spurrier does.
We can basically copy and paste the preseason capsule for the Gamecocks from the last few years here: Lot of talent, lost a few playmakers but should have the depth to put out another 10 or 11 win season. Will probably miss out on the SEC Championship Game by some inane tiebreaker to Georgia, giving Spurrier something to bitch about the rest of the summer.
Did I miss anything? Oh, right, no Jadeveon Clowney this year. Whoops.
5. No. 19 Ole Miss
Is Bo Wallace the best returning quarterback in the SEC? No, stop laughing, he really might be. Dr. Bo has thrown for 6,340 yards, 40 touchdowns and 27 INTs in just two seasons, and he’s got a whole mess of talent surrounding him in Oxford.
The Rebels start out the year with “neutral” games in two NFL stadiums – against Boise St. in the Georgia Dome and the SEC opener with Vanderbilt at LP Field – that will tell us early on if Hugh Freeze’s team is ready to make a leap and contend for its first SEC West title ever.
6. No. 13 LSU
Freshman Leonard Fournette is scary. Usually reports calling freshmen running backs “the next Adrian Peterson” are unfounded and hyperbolic, but when the guy listed on the depth chart ahead of him spends his time at SEC Media Days marveling at the rookie it might be time to take notice.
Losing quarterback James Franklin, wide receiver Notorious DGB, defensive ends Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, and running back Henry Josey means the Tigers return probably only one player you remember from last season’s march to the SEC Championship Game.
Fortunately, that guy you remember is sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk, who took over while Franklin was injured and might have even played better during his four starts. Mauk rightfully earned a spot on the Freshman All-American team last year, and should build on his legacy this year, even without his favorite receiving threat in DGB.
8. No. 20 Texas A&M
Didn’t even have a spring game this year. They s’posed to be ESS-EEE-CEE, Pawwwwwllllll. Roll Tide.
Kevin Sumlin got a huge contract extension this offseason. Let’s see if he’s worth it in Year One after Johnny Football. Oh, and also without Mike Evans or Jake Matthews. Good luck, coach.
This is probably too high a spot to put the Commodores, but someone has to put them up here after the deluge of media projections this year saying Vanderbilt will be lucky to make a bowl game. Look at the schedule. The Commodores are going bowling for the fourth year in a row and the rest of y’all are just going to have to get over it.
10. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs have somehow become the popular sleeper pick in the West, and I just don’t get it. Wins last season came against Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Arkansas and Ole Miss before a blowout victory over Rice in the Liberty Bowl.
A big part of this newfound hype surrounds quarterback Dak Prescott. Some writers have gone as far as comparing the junior quarterback to (one-time Bulldog commit) Cam Newton. I shouldn’t have to tell you how ridiculous that is – Newton’s one year at Auburn was the best single-season performance by a college player in my lifetime — but remember that Prescott was the guy getting kicked in the shins by Miss St. students randomly on campus last season. Also, against the three good defenses he played last year – Oklahoma State, LSU, South Carolina — Prescott completed just 55% of his passes with 0 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
There is a ton of talent on Florida’s roster, making the Gators a threat to reemerge and contend for the SEC East crown much like Auburn did last year. Of course, the Gators had just as much talent on the team last year, and went 4-8.
Auburn had the advantage of having a brilliant offensive coach in Gus Malzahn to spur last season’s transformation. Florida has Will Muschamp, a coach so out of his depth that people openly wonder if he’s a spy for his alma-mater, UGA, sent to sink the Florida program.
The only team in the country that is replacing every single starter on the offensive and defensive line. Is that bad? It sounds bad.
The good news: Arkansas will definitely be better this season!
The bad news: It’s really hard to be any worse than the Hogs were last season. Quarterback Brandon Allen didn’t have much competition for his starting job in the spring, which isn’t a great thing to hear about a guy who completed 49% of his passes last season.
The Wildcats have some talent in Lexington this year thanks to a sterling recruiting effort by new head coach Mark Stoops. Now, let’s see if he can do anything with that talent.
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