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2015 SEC Conference Football Preview: Still the Top Dogs

SEC for 2014The 2014 college football season didn’t finish the way most expected. Up was down and down was up last year. The Big Ten won a national title and a few other bowl games against the SEC, leading many to wonder if the conference is all hype. It’s not. The SEC is still the top conference in the country and has been for more than a decade. One disappointing bowl season doesn’t change that.

The 2015 SEC conference race is likely to see a few familiar teams near the top, and a few other teams that certainly won’t be easy wins. Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, LSU, Georgia, and Arkansas will go into the fall with championship aspirations. But which teams will live up to the hype?

The Contenders

As long as Nick Saban is at Alabama, the Crimson Tide will be a contender. Experience on offense is our only concern with Alabama. They return just 2 starters, but have an experienced QB (Jake Coker) and a running back (Derrick Henry) that could form into one of the nation’s best. Defensively, look for Alabama, with 7 returning starters, to dominate.

Auburn was one of the most disappointing teams in the country last year at 8-5. They had national title aspirations and didn’t come through. They again have dreams of winning it all this year and will have a very good chance if they can beat Alabama and win a couple of tough road games (LSU, Arkansas). Bret Bielema has done a fantastic job rebuilding the Arkansas program. He has them in a great position to contend this year, but the schedule is brutal. With road games against Tennessee, Ole Miss, and LSU, and a home game against Alabama, Arkansas is going to have to earn it this year.

secThe Darkhorses

Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia likely won’t win the league or even make it to a BCS Bowl, but these are 4 teams the upper echelon squads had better not overlook. Never count a Mark Richt coached team out. They are the favorites to win the SEC East division and, if they can pull off an upset in the conference championship game, they just might sneak into a BCS Bowl or the College Football Playoff. Kentucky is going to continue getting better and better as long as Mark Stoops is in Lexington. And don’t sleep on Florida and Missouri.

The Hopeless

Not many teams go 10-3 and return a Heisman caliber quarterback and basically have no hope for success the next season. Well, except for Mississippi State. 2014 was a surprising year for the Bulldogs, thanks in large part to an improved defense and the outstanding play of quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott is back but only 6 other starters from the 2014 squad will join him. It’s going to be a long year for MSU. Ditto for Vanderbilt, but what else is new?

The Others

The 2015 SEC just might be the deepest conference ever. Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Texas A&M are 5 other teams that will be solid, if not great. LSU and Ole Miss fans are thinking national title, while the other 3 teams expect to get back to a bowl game. Can LSU and Ole Miss contend for a conference title? It’s possible, but both teams are going to need consistent QB play, and neither have a QB that has proven to be consistent at this level.

Final Predictions

  • SEC East Champ: Georgia
  • SEC West Champ: Alabama
  • SEC Champ: Alabama
  • SEC Offensive POY: Jeremy Johnson, QB Auburn
  • SEC Defensive POY: Derek Barnett, DE Tennessee
  • CFB Playoff Teams: Alabama