Keeping with the football spirit, here is the breakdown of the best of the best and greatest conference in college football history. This is our annual SEC prediction which will show the picks for the championship as well as individual awards which will excite even the most cynical of fans. These picks are as good as money, and you can say that you “heard it here first!”
With 10 of 11 starters returning on offense, the main question marks are on the defense. With how the defense disappointed last season, there could be a chance that even though there were major losses on the defensive side of the ball, the team could rank higher in total defense than last year’s squad. The main thing everyone will be watching will be quarterback Aaron Murray who needs to raise his big game poise for his team to take the next step.
Western Division Champion- Alabama Crimson Tide
I almost do not even need to write anything about our defending champions. It feels like this team is set up so perfectly to win 4 out of 5 National Championships this season. They are one of the best program dynasties that we have ever seen, and possibly the greatest. If they can get past Texas A&M and LSU, they could run the table yet again.
SEC Dark Horse- South Carolina Gamecocks
This team has the best player in the conference in Jadeveon Clowney, and a solid overall team. The Dual quarterback play has always scared me, but has become the way Steve Spurrier likes to run things. Dylan Thompson and Connor Shaw both have starter potential and the confidence to get it done. Mike Davis is a solid replacement for Marcus Lattimore, and this should fuel them to big places and potentially a BCS bowl game.
Eastern Division Surprise Team- Tennessee Volunteers
This team returns 4 out of 5 offensive lineman and the top two rushers from last season in Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. Justin Worley is stepping in at QB and they have 8 starters returning on defense, this is enough for new head coach Butch Jones to work with. They will look more like the Tennessee teams of the past.
Western Division Surprise Team- Auburn Tigers
With the Gus Bus coming to town, this team can actually use the talent that new head coach Gus Malzahn actually recruited. He will be able to maximize their early potential, and I think he will build this program back to a championship level. Nick Marshall has transferred in to become a quarterback in this offense, and as a former defensive back at UGA it shows his athleticism.
Conference Champion- Georgia Bulldogs
This probably shocked most of you, but this seems to be too perfect of a storm for Alabama to repeat, and you have to like this offense that returns everyone. The defense will be ready by this time in the season to contain the Tide enough for Murray and the offense to finish the drill.
Conference MVP- UGA QB Aaron Murray
If the Bulldogs are to win the championship, then Murray will have to be at this level and thrive. He has all of the tools and weapons to get it done.
Offensive Player of the Year- UGA RB Todd Gurley
Gurley is potentially the best running back in the nation, and his hard-nosed running could coax any deficiencies in the defense this season.
Defensive Player of the Year- South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
Possibly the best player in the nation, but Clowney is never satisfied, so he will stay hungrier than ever this season.
Coach of the Year- Tennessee HC Butch Jones
The job of turning around the Volunteers is no easy one, especially with no SEC experience under his belt. He will take this team back to the rocky top.
Newcomer of the Year- Auburn QB Nick Marshall
This JUCO transfer played quarterback in high school and when he went to UGA they made him a defensive back and now he gets to play his desired position with the Tigers. He could have all the talent that Malzahn needs to make this unit go.
Full Conference Predicted Standings
This is how I see this conference playing out this season, with some usual suspects leading the way. There are 10 total bowl teams in this conference, by my calculation.
SEC Eastern Projected finish SEC Western Projected finish
1. Georgia 11-1 (7-1) 1. Alabama 11-1 (7-1)
2. South Carolina 10-2 (-2) 2. LSU 10-2 (6-2)
3. Tennessee 8-4 (5-3) 3. Texas A&M 10-2 (6-2)
4. Florida 9-3 (5-3) 4. Auburn 8-4 (4-4)
5. Vanderbilt 7-5 (3-5) 5. Mississippi 7-5 (4-4)
6. Kentucky 4-8 (1-7) 6. Arkansas 5-7 (1-7)
7. Missouri 4-8 (0-8) 7. Mississippi State 4-8 (1-7)