2018 College Football Preview: SEC

al-uga-jpg-1535055489

This arguably is the best conference in college football and last season showed with Georgia and Alabama in the championship game. So with that being said, get ready for another round of some of the best football in the country. People might argue against it, but with the crowds, the traditions, the programs, how could you think otherwise? With that being said, let’s take a look at the teams in this awesome conference.

 

East Division

Florida

This has always been a traditional powerhouse, but with the talent here, they may actually be able to compete with Georgia for the top spot in the division. Yes, the program has struggled as late, but there has to be a lot of optimism here. With a head coach that has a dying urgency to win, you can’t help, but think that there are exciting times for the Gators. Their offense is fast and their defense is stingy, just watch out Georgia, you have a tough challenge ahead.

Georgia

Speaking of Georgia, they are still the favorite to win the division. Not only were they in the College Football Championship game against Alabama, they came so close to winning it, but lost in devastating fashion. Yes, last year ended in heart breaking fashion, but there is a lot of optimism here and they could be back to that same possible promise land come January. Despite losing Roquan Smith, Nick Chubb, and Sony Michel, they might actually be better this year, and losing those names shouldn’t be as big of a deal despite them being awesome players. Jake Fromm is an awesome quarterback and will be in the NFL soon, but his backup Justin Fields might even be more talented. So if Fromm goes down, there is no worry there for the Bulldogs. They will be a very fun team to watch.

Kentucky

Kentucky has long been regarded as a laughing stock in the SEC when it came to College Football (basketball is another story, but that’s a different sport anyways), as some fans of other teams in the division look at them on their schedule and see it as an easy win. The question will be whether they will ever be good? With Mark Stoops as the head coach, they might finally have a team that could compete. What helps Kentucky is that they will return a great portion of their starters back, so experience will help here. Their schedule isn’t easy and the division is significantly better from last year, but the Wildcats have gotten better as well.

Missouri

Missouri significantly improved from 2016 in 2017 as they went 7-6 after going 4-8 a season earlier, but the question is whether they will make strides in 2018. They caught a lucky break that SEC East was a weak division, but if it has gotten stronger this year, will Mizzou show up to play or will they struggle? The offense will be story this year as the offense has changed a lot and they have a strong NFL prospect at quarterback, Drew Lock. It’s going to be interesting to see how they do this season.

South Carolina

The Gamecocks went 9-4 in 2017 which suggests they had a good season, but they also played in a weak division. Their offense was atrocious and they need that to be better if they want to be competitive in their division considering how much it improved. However, they will likely rely on strong play from their defense which is a strength on this squad. With Will Muschamp as the coach, they could make things interesting and could snatch the division title away from Georgia.

Tennessee

Trying to become a superpower once again, the Volunteers do have some promise. They hired Jeremy Pruitt to be their head coach and revamped seemingly everything as they plan to do big things this year. There are still some question marks though, as the quarterback, offensive line, running back, and some on the defensive line situations need to be worked out. This will be an interesting story to watch, but Volunteer fans might be in for a fun ride in 2018.

Vanderbilt

Along with Kentucky, Vanderbilt has also long been seen as the whipping boy of the SEC. Vandy really struggled last season going 1-7 in conference play, but they do play in a very tough conference. This season will be a mystery as the division has gotten stronger, but there are improvements with the Commodores. Their offense will need to be much better this season if they want to compete and the defense cannot continue to make as many mistakes as they did last year if they want to win some games. It might as well be a rebuilding season for Vandy.

 

West Division

Alabama

The Crimson Tide’s appearance in the College Football Playoffs last year was controversial, but their finish as the National Champions suggests that they did, in fact, belong. Nick Saban will look at last season as a failure, despite winning the National Championship, simply because of how much they struggled against teams that should have been no challenge (also, because he’s Nick Saban, and he’s never satisfied with anything). That being said, coming into 2018, you can really make a strong case they are the best team in College Football. Their offense should be as strong as always, but it will be interesting to see what happens with the quarterback situation with possibly either Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa starting. And of course their Nick-Saban-coached defense will be great. Bama should be awesome to watch in 2018.

Arkansas

The Razorbacks could have had a great 2017 as their offense was explosive, but there was one problem — their defense practically gave up as many yards as the offense gained. Arkansas are going to have limit the damage as much as possible in 2018 if they want to make some noise, but playing in such a strong division, a loss to Alabama or Auburn would easily be forgiven. They should be better in 2018, but they need limit the damage as much as possible.

Auburn

If you were an Auburn fan last season, it was gut wrenching to watch how everything ended. Losing the SEC Championship to Georgia was heartbreaking, especially seeing how everything ended up. After all, the Tigers managed to beat both Georgia and Alabama last season to clinch the West Division. Jarrett Stidham showed how good of a quarterback he is, and with him coming back, this could be a great year once again. Traditionally Auburn does better when they have returning quarterbacks, but the loss of Kerryon Johnson in the backfield will hurt. Replacing him will be a tough task. And the defense? Well, they are pretty good as well. It could get interesting in the West Division because of Auburn.

LSU

Well last year was an interesting season for LSU as a good amount of people thought they would win 10 games and compete with Alabama for the the division title. But then they lost four games, including a heartbreaking loss to Troy, which sealed the deal on whether or not they would make the playoffs. That being said, the same expectations will be upon the Bayou Bengals in 2018 as they are a deep and strong side. A strong LSU team to compete with Alabama and Auburn for the division title is always a good thing, and it could make it interesting in the West this season.

Ole Miss

Losing Shea Patterson will really hurt the Rebels’ chances at winning the division this season, but they come in as probably one of the biggest mysteries in the SEC. Things could go well or they could go awry. They won six games last season, but the Rebels could go either go up or go down. The only thing that is known for sure is that they will be able to compete, as they have some experience with most of their starters coming back. They will also be returning three of their top wide receivers as they are the only team in College Football to return three receivers that racked up seven or more touchdowns from the season before. That could mean that their offense will be explosive in 2018. But how they will do by the end of the season will be a mystery.

Mississippi State

Offense will not be a problem for Mississippi State this season, as they might be able to match up with any team in the division if it becomes shootout. However, as good as the offense is, the defense could be the difference as to whether or not they will compete for the division title. They will be an interesting case, but keep a close eye on them. Besides, the division is so strong, it really will be fun to see what they do this season.

Texas A&M

Jimbo Fisher is now the new head coach for the Aggies and there is a lot hope for the fans as that is an incredibly splashy hire. While there won’t be an immediate division crown for the Aggies, there is some talent for Fisher to work with. With how strong the division is, Texas A&M will make a lot of noise and like Mississippi State could make a huge difference as to how things play out. They will be interesting to watch.

Predictions

James Rowe: Georgia vs Alabama in SEC Championship. Alabama wins. Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia will make the College Football Playoffs. Yeah, the SEC is that strong this year. Also with three SEC teams in the playoffs, is that considered a hot take?

Thomas Martin: Georgia coasts through the East, with only a few minor struggles along the way. My total, unbiased, completely non-partisan, non-homerish (skeptical yet) pick for the West is Auburn. There is a LOT of good on this Auburn team, and the God of Chaos reigns supreme on the plains. Sure, the boring pick is Alabama with their boring (read: cupcake-filled) schedule, but who wants boring? Georgia vs. Auburn in the SEC championship. Auburn wins it all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s