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Six SEC teams could emerge as national championship contenders in 2013

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Take a breath, SEC fans.

That’s seven championships in a row. It’s all but guaranteed that the SEC will hold one spot in the title game next season, and here are the SEC hopefuls for 2013, in alphabetical order of course:

Alabama Crimson Tide

We’ll have to wait and see just how badly the NFL Draft wipes this roster out, but we know Nick Saban combined with the core nucleus of AJ McCarron, TJ Yeldon and Amari Cooper return on offense. The Tide, however, will lose at least two offensive linemen for sure and could lose one more in the draft depending on what DJ Fluker does. The Tide lose two defensive linemen, one linebacker and likely two starters in the secondary, but this same group lost six starters last year, too. Nick Saban has recruited very well, and several studs are waiting in the wings to take over those roster spots. The Tide will be strong once again in 2013.

Florida Gators

Yeah, I went there. I think Florida under Will Muschamp is here to stay. The way he transformed the toughness of the players in two seasons is remarkable. The offense must get better in 2013, though, and it looks like that will be the case. Jeff Driskel, albeit, returns for his junior campaign, and the Gators will make upgrades on the offensive line and wide receiver with recruiting and transfers but will lose senior All-SEC back Mike Gillislee. However, the defense loses seven starters. Florida, though, has recruited well and Muschamp will have a strong defense. The defense won’t be 2012 good, but the offense has a chance to take a major step forward, especially in the passing game with another full offseason under their belts. Florida and LSU are probably the teams on this list with the least chance of making a championship run.

Georgia Bulldogs

The news of Aaron Murray returning lifted the Bulldogs’ spirits in hopes to make another run at an elusive SEC title and national championship. This program is still considered a sleeping giant that is waiting to wake up at any point. And we keep asking ourselves whether next year will finally be the year the Bulldogs break out. The offense will be electric with Murray, his cast of receivers, all returning starters on the offensive line and Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall in the backfield. This unit will score points in boatloads, but the Dawgs will lose nine starters on defense, with only corner Damian Swann, linebacker Chase Vasser and a few others returning with starting experience  It’s a good thing Georgia will average close to 40 points next season, because they’re going to need it.

LSU Tigers

LSU could escape some attrition and get all starters back on offense except for center PJ Lonergan. Zach Mettenberger and the offense must fix some problems in the passing game, but the three-headed monster of Jeremy Hill, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard return in 2013, as does receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. The offense should improve, but the defense has several holes to fill vacated by players leaving early. Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery and Bennie Logan all leave on the defensive line, as well as linebacker Kevin Minter, corner Tharold Simon and safety Eric Reid. That’s a strong nucleus of serious talent, and LSU will have a tough time replacing all those vacancies. But if the Tigers can get better on offense and are able to score more points, it can help offset defensive losses in a big way.

South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks return a serious nucleus of talent on offense with two quarterbacks and a cast of solid receivers. The Gamecocks do lose a receiver, tight end and one offensive lineman, and I’m somewhat concerned about the running game with Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds. Steve Spurrier very well may play two quarterbacks in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson. However, the Gamecocks will lose seven starters on defense, but they do return All-World Jadeveon Clowney and a solid defensive line. Spurrier and company will have to replace three linebackers, including the SPUR, and two of four in the secondary, including leader DJ Swearinger. After two 11-win seasons, Spurrier will once again be fighting for an elusive SEC Championship in 2013.

Texas A&M Aggies

Arguably the hottest team in the country exiting bowl season was Texas A&M. Led by Johnny Manziel, the Aggies had the most explosive offense in the SEC and arguably the country. The Aggies return Manziel, a host of receivers, solid running backs and three of five on the offensive line, assuming Jake Matthews returns for his senior year. However, the Aggies will need some major holes filled on defense. TAMU loses a minimum of six starters, most notably two linebackers and defensive end Damontre Moore. While I’m so optimistic about the Aggies’ offense, the defense will need to fill voids before Alabama comes to town in week three in 2013.

Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports


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Comments 14

  1. I only see 3 or 4 teams with a legitimate shot: Bama, UGA, Scar and Tamu.

    -UGA and Scar battle for the east again…UF will not be a factor unless they play a QB that can throw the forward pass. (The gator offense is ranked 104th and they will miss those playmakers on D)
    -Bama will win the west fairly easily after pummeling TAMU who will be their only real threat.
    -Despite losing all that talent the new UGA Defense will play as a unit and suprise many of you

    • I disagree. Florida had a QB this year that couldn’t throw the forward pass, and they went 11-2. You have to think they will improve (because they can’t get worse), and there will be an influx of incoming WRs (freshman) and OL transferring in. Though Driskel returns, the offense around him will look much different. I didn’t say better; I said different – and that’s what bodes well IMO. We know they will have a good defense.

      Also, LSU should be in the mix because basically the entire offense returns much like Georgia, though Mett is not Murray. Remember LSU was one play away from being a one-loss team in the regular season with this offense. Add another offseason for OL, WRs, QB and RBs, it will show its benefits.

      • I agree LSU has a very good chance next year especially with the experience our offense line has gained and the return of Chris Faulk. If Mett contiues to improve like he did at the end of this past season our passing game could be deadly especially with the editions of two beast JUCO WR’s in Quantavious Leslie and Courtney Gardner (who is the #1 JUCO WR according to ESPN,not yet committed but LSU is by far his favorite). Also one of the top JUCO TE’s Logan Stokes who is a pretty good at catching passes.Also with freshman Avery Johnson,John Diarse and Rickey Jefferson coming in the talent at our recieving corp will be very deep. At RB yea we lose Ware and Ford but we return our 3 best backs in Blue,Hill,and Hilliard. Also Terrance MaGee doesnt hurt the cause at RB.

      • Florida May get a lil better on offense…but no way they get better on D. Their playmaking ability on D and turnover ratio won them 11 games. That defense was undoubtebly the best in the Nation in my opinion and it is hard to imagine them matching that again considering who they are losing. I just feel like the SEC is becoming more of a scoring league and LSU and UF are going to hafta find ways to score CONSISTENTLY on offense if they want to compete.

  2. LSU lost too much talent with 9 underclassmen going to the NFL. Not to mention the Honey Badger is still gone.

    They also have the hardest schedule with the typical SEC West schedule and they play Florida and Georgia in the SEC East. That’s just brutal. I see them losing at least 2 games next season.

    • Do I need to remind you that LSU won the National Championship with 2 losses a couple years ago… While the defensive roster may be depleted, LSU has posted top recruiting classes every year. The names won’t be there, but the results usually are. You have to include them.

    • Thats wishful thinking really especillay with the talent we have still on the roster yea there young and unknown to non-tiger fans. On the d-line Freak Johnson, and Ego Ferguson will anchor the middle they have experience,size,and talent. While some question the depth the additions of freshman Maquedis Bain,Greg Gilmore,Christian LaCountre,and Tevin Lawson, and with Quentin Thomas already on the roster depth really isnt a question. At d-end its not truly devestating losing Montgomery and Mingo while it hurts it dosent kill us with the extrordinary raw talent of Danielle Hunter and the power and experience that Jermauria Rasco has gained over the past couple years, were good at the starting spots,and the depth wise with many incoming freshman such as Kendell Beckwith,Frank Herron,Lewis Neal,and Michael Patterson,and a few other possible commits we will have talent and depth,maybe not the experience but LSU has won with young teams before. The LB’s are still in check as well as DB’s.

  3. Eric
    Commented : 1 year ago

    I understand that Marcus Lattimore is an irreplaceable player. However, I feel like you are undervaluing Brandon Wilds. In Lattimore’s absence, Wilds ran for 3 100 yard games (out of 5), and that was as a True Freshman. While he is not Marcus, he definitely provides a pretty solid threat in the backfield.

  4. I think that A&M and South Carolina may have the best shot at it.
    But the Dawgs Defense will not be as bad as you may think. 5 of the returning guys (Swann, Herrera, Vasser, Jenkins, and Smith) were all basically starters. And Swann and Jenkins could be All-conference.
    Go Dawgs
    Go SEC

    • DawgMan
      Commented : 1 year ago

      With the Dawgs returning murray and 9 other starters, I see an unbelievable offense next year. Unbelievable. We return every single offensive lineman, our record breaking quarterback, and our extremely Trent Richardson esque running back and Gurley. Would it surprise some of you to know that Gurley ran for more yards the regular season than Lacy? Not sure about post season, I need to check the stats. Georgia vs Alabama rematch next year in SEC championship, Georgia vs Texas A&M in the national championship.

      • No Doubt Gurley is our horse…I just can’t wait to see what new stuff Bobo does with Marshall next season…they gotta continue to get him the ball in the open feild.

      • False. Ohio St will go undefeated next year. Whether they belong in the NC game or not, they’ll be there by virtue of starting the season in the top 5.

  5. I chuckled when I saw Florida. I fell out of my chair when I saw South Carolina.

    UF is going to have another great team, but I think they’ll end up like they did this year – getting caught sleeping in 1 or 2 games because their offense won’t be able to overcome a poor defensive showing. USC(e) won’t be in the picture at all. No doubt they’ll be overrated again like they were all year, but we won’t be talking about them in the same breath with ‘bama, LSU, A&M, or Grorgia.

  6. I wouldn’t be surprised if Texas A&M ends up being next year’s Arkansas. I am really interested to see how the Aggies deal with an offseason of high expectations.

    We’ll find out early whether or not next season is the year Georgia finally breaks out. With games to open the season against Clemson & South Carolina, this young defense won’t have time for growing pains.