In the second edition of our college football conference previews we will be looking at the powerful SEC. The Southeastern Conference is hands down the best football conference in all of the NCAA as demonstrated by the fact that a team from the conference has won the BCS National Championship every year since 2006. The list includes the Florida Gators in 2006, the LSU Tigers in 2007,the Florida Gators in 2008, the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2009, the Auburn Tigers in 2010, and the Alabama Crimson Tide again in 2011. The 2012-2013 season should be another dominant year for the SEC as several teams are legitimate National Championship contenders with 5 teams in the top 15 in the nation. Currently, Alabama is ranked #1, LSU is #3, Georgia #7, South Carolina #8, and Arkansas #13.
2012 SEC Football Rankings
It’s really hard to make a call between Alabama and LSU heading into this year. Both teams lost a ton of talent to the NFL and both team have plenty of blue chip recruits ready to step in. Considering the fact that LSU wet the bed in the BCS National Championship game we will give Bama the slight edge. Alabama also benefits by having junior QB AJ McCarron back to lead the offense.
1B. LSU Tigers
One could make the case that LSU is the more talented team heading into the 2012-13 football season. Their defense should be as good as ever. However, the Tigers will be relying on the inexperienced Zach Mettenberger to lead the offense. That means they will likely lean heavy on the ground game. If LSU is going to win a National Title this season they are going to need a more balanced offensive attack.
The Georgia Bulldogs were one of the few SEC teams not raided by the NFL draft. All major pieces of the offense will be back this season including QB Aaron Murray, RB Isaiah Crowell, WR Malcolm Mitchell, WR Michael Bennett, WR Marlon Brown, and WR Tavarres King. The biggest questions come from the offensive line as they will lose the services of OL Cordy Glenn, OL Ben Jones, and OL Justin Anderson. They will also return 10 starters on defense.
Steve Spurrier has the Gamecocks getting better and better each year. South Carolina seems poised for another big year as they return the best running back in the nation with Marcus Lattimore and promising young quarterback Connor Shaw. The only thing holding SC back is their tough schedule!
Offensively, the Razorbacks are ready to compete with the likes of Alabama and LSU for a SEC Championship. While the defense has been steadily improving they are not quite there yet. Thrown in the fact that Arkansas plays in the SEC West and you have the #5 team in the SEC.
Missouri is a newcomer to the SEC and will likely take some time getting used to the defensive minded approach common throughout the conference. They should be able to quickly adapt offensively with QB James Franklin running the show. The big questions is how he will perform against some of the top defenses in the nation.
Many have written off Auburn from title contention after chalking up their 2010 National Championship to superstar Cam Newton. However, the Tigers could surprise some people if their young defense can continue to make progress.
No one really knows what to expect from Texas A&M this season following their move from the Big 12 and the hiring of head coach Kevin Sumlin. The Aggies do have talent and could be a wildcard in the SEC West.
The Gators are loaded with top ranked recruits but have struggled to find an identity on offense the last few seasons. This will be the 4th straight year with a new offensive coordinator which means there will be some more growing pains in Gainesville – that is if they can find someone to play QB.
Vandy has a lot of positives going for them this year- most notably a pretty easy schedule. They will not play LSU, Alabama, nor Arkansas this season. If they can handle South Carolina and/or Georgia they could end up surprising quite a few people this season.
11. Tennessee Vols
The Vols have an abundance of talent but head coach Derek Dooley has largely failed to develop it. If head can somehow turn the corner to save his job this team could be bowl eligible.
It’s hard to compete in the SEC if you can’t beat anyone in your own division. Mississippi State has been better of late but until they can beat someone other than Ole Miss, they will continue to be cellar dwellers.
There is not much to like in Lexington heading into the season. The offense just flat out needs to get better if this teams is going to compete at all.
14. Ole Miss Rebels
A terrible offense combined with a terrible defense is not usually a recipe for success. New head coach Hugh Freeze has a monster task at hand getting the Rebels competitive. It could be a very long year in Oxford!