SEC football returns next month. Indeed, August 29th will be a great day, as three SEC teams get ready for a dogfight.
Alabama enters as the prohibitive favorite to win the SEC and the BCS, but after Alabama, there’s a cluster of five teams in the mix. Most are quick to say if not Alabama, then either Georgia or South Carolina.
Does that mean the SEC East is the stronger division? I’m not ready to go there yet, but the East is up for grabs with the three-headed monster of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, with four others on the outside looking in.
Drum roll, please…
Florida and Will Muschamp will still have a top defense even after the Gators lost six starters. The biggest question entering 2013 is the passing offense, particularly the quarterback. Jeff Driskel’s development and the air attack is one of the most anticipated storylines this season. Florida’s stacked with talent, but are the Gators are ready for their 11-win encore…Georgia enters as one of the prominent favorites, headlined by a sexy and electrifying offense led by Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley. Mike Bobo may call boring plays, but Georgia can hang 40 in a heartbeat. The defense, however, is the biggest question mark. Replacing eight starters and one of the best secondaries will be tough to overcome, but this team can outscore anyone and will continue to lean on the offense…Steve Spurrier continues to elevate the South Carolina program. He’s taken them to new heights and is looking for his second East crown since 2005. Coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons, the program is eager for the next step – an SEC Championship and a national title. Spearheaded by a ground-and-pound offense and a physical defense led by sackmaster Jadeveon Clowney, several have the Gamecocks as the proverbial preseason favorites…and it’s hard to argue against.
On the cusp
Vanderbilt might not be a contender yet, but if the program keeps heading the direction it’s going, they will eventually beat one of the big boys and move into a second- or third- place-type scenario. The 2013 team will be James Franklin’s best yet, but if they want the respect they strive for, they have to beat one of the four preseason ranked opponents. It creates a very interesting subplot for 2013.
Kentucky is rebuilding under head coach Mark Stoops. I expect the program to improve upon its two wins, but the SEC East crown is nowhere near a discussion in 2013…Missouri’s Gary Pinkel sits on the hottest coaching seat entering 2013. The offense and quarterback are under the microscope, while the defense was much better than advertised. Will the defense at least be as good as last season? If so, and if Mizzou’s offense picks up its game, we’re talking about a much-improved team. But they are still not in the East title discussion…Tennessee should have some long-term success under Butch Jones, but the roster has too many holes this year. A bowl game is definitely a possibility, but there are too many questions at quarterback, receiver and on defense to even talk about an upset right now.
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