College Football started last weekend with a few games that the majority of fans were, for the most part, uninterested in, but this week is different. This week college football starts for the rest of the country, and more importantly, it begins for the best conference in all of college sports: the SEC. Each week we will do a power ranking from worst to first in the conference.
This one is tough because I feel like the Commodores are on the rise in the conference, a slow rise, but on the rise nonetheless. The success of Vanderbilt will rely solely on the defense and Ralph Webb.
Drew Lock is a stud. Missouri will no doubt be able to toss the ball around and put up plenty of points, but the question will be whether or not they can keep other teams off the scoreboard. This team has the ability to win seven games, but only time will tell if they can actually pull it off.
12. Ole Miss
Oxford is filled with controversy heading into the 2017 season. With the cloud of the COI looming over the Rebels, you have to wonder how motivated the team will be. Outside of the off-the-field questions, Ole Miss has a talented offense that starts with QB Shea Patterson and ends with an NFL-caliber receiving corps. Although the offense is filled with stars, the defense, which struggled last season, shows no signs of improvement.
11. South Carolina
The Gamecocks are a six-to-seven win team in my eyes. Jake Bentley has all the talent in the world to take this team to nine or ten wins next season, but they aren’t quite there yet. One more season under defensive guru Will Muschamp should have this team firing on all cylinders.
Kentucky is one of the more intriguing teams for me this season. I could see this team winning eight games, but in the same breath I could see them missing a bowl game altogether. Outside of Jojo Kemp, I’m not sure who carries this offense. I’m also not sure what to make of QB Stephen Johnson. The defense and run game will be the strength of this team, we will just have to wait and see how far it can take them.
This is where it gets dicey. I feel like you could put any team in these next few slots in any order and I’d have no problem with it. Arkansas returns Austin Allen, who is a top three QB in the SEC. The one thing that will hurt Allen is the lack of a solid offensive line. On the other side of the football, the defense was atrocious last season and shows no signs of immediate improvement.
We will learn a lot about the Vols this Monday when they take on Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Tennessee has uncertainty at nearly every position, including quarterback, as Butch Jones has yet to announce a starting quarterback for the opener. Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano are expected to battle for the position into the season opener.
7. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball in 2016, but new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham looks to turn it around. Grantham will have plenty of talent to work with, but the real question will be how quickly can the defense turn the corner. Mississippi State also returns arguably the best QB in the SEC in Nick Fitzgerald. We know what Fitzgerald can do, the success of the season will fall on the shoulders of the defense.
6. Texas A&M
I don’t have much faith in Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M this season. I truly expect the Aggies to be on the lookout for a new head coach come December. With a history of late-season collapses, subpar defenses and not having a QB named for week one against UCLA, this team concerns me.
I believe LSU made a huge mistake by hiring Ed Orgeron this offseason instead of a bigger name such as Tom Herman. I’m not sure if this mistake will show itself this season, but it can’t be good for the program in the coming years. While LSU always has an outstanding defense, the offensive questions remain outside of running back Derrius Guice.
Florida will once again be in contention for an SEC title due in part to the weakness of the East. Florida has yet to announce a starting QB ahead of this Saturday’s game against Michigan, and we may even see three guys get snaps. Until McElwain can get a legitimate QB to run his offense, Florida will continue to be a good, but not great football team.
I believe Georgia is the most complete team in the East this season. They have a solid defense, and a good enough offense to win eleven games this season. Historically Georgia seems to drop a game that they shouldn’t, but if they can avoid that letdown, I believe Georgia will win the East. Ultimately the East will be decided October 28th in Jacksonville when the Bulldogs face off against Florida.
While there are some question marks on the defensive line, I believe Auburn’s defense will bring the same intensity that they had last season. Auburn should also be able to play keep away with a dominant back like Kamryn Pettway, but the one player that will vault Auburn into the number two spot in the SEC is Jarrett Stidham. If Stidham is able to live up to the hype, Auburn will be able to challenge Alabama for the top spot in the SEC.
Until Nick Saban leaves Alabama, the Crimson Tide will continue to be the preseason favorites. Alabama returns arguably the best QB in the SEC in Jalen Hurts, and boast a stable of running backs any team in the country would kill for. The defense lost a ton of play makers to the draft last year, but this is the story every year. Until the Tide fail to reload defensively, there is no reason to believe they won’t be the same dominant force that they have been for the last ten years.