Who will win the SEC East?

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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…

Main contenders

Florida
Georgia
South Carolina

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

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.

Lookout below

Kentucky
Missouri
Tennessee

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.

Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

REFERENCES

COMMENTS

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  • So…what is your prediction?

  • SC won the East last in 2010.

  • I agree with the top 3 with the caveat that Florida, in particular, is going to have a slow start trying to replace the defensive starters they’ve lost and that could end up costing them. I think things will likely be between UGA and SCAR but even they have question marks.

    A lot of folks are betting against UT this year, including Vol fans. This is understandable since there are so many unknowns, especially at QB and WR. However, it’s finally got enough talent and depth to be a darkhorse candidate against a lot of teams. I also think they’ve finally got a ball coach,

    Vandy is in my opinion about to implode. Their wins last year was against awful teams and without their QB who carried the team.

    Also with a scandal that involves 4 players even though it may or may not involve starters or expected incoming starters will deflate the program, especially boosters and other supporters as Vandy prides itself as being better than everyone else and even with Franklin football is still an after thought to them. That means it’s quite easy for them to condemn and dump support. The very fact Vandy has dumped the players already despite that opening them up to litigation does not bode well. Also Vandy being so tight lipped is not a good sign. With up to 10 student athletes involved I have a feeling when charges are finally filed and the witness list released and/or the other athletes names leaked to the press the whole season could explode before it even begins. It will rock Vandy that much.

    I think Mizzou may have a better season than expected with their QB healthy again. UK will be improved but still UK and likely still have a poor record to show for it.

    • Ugh apologies for the typos. Also, a clarification in case anyone gets confused: I don’t see the Vols as a contender this year but as a team that has the potential to spoil other team’s chances and possibly, though not probable, be a darkhorse contender if things get wild and luck rolls their way.