The SEC officially says goodbye to 2013, and we flip the page looking ahead to the 2014 season. College football is becoming year-round, especially with recruiting through February and spring football amping things up. Before you know it, summer will be here, and SEC Media Days will be right around corner.
How much did the SEC power rankings change after bowl week? Seven of 10 teams won bowl games. Remember, ranked wins and ranked losses reflect the final AP Top 25 rankings below.
Related: 2014 SEC football schedules
1. Auburn Tigers (12-2, 7-1)
Auburn was two or three plays away from winning the BCS National Championship, and after what we saw in the Sugar Bowl, I’d pick this Auburn team to beat Alabama, again. Gus Malzahn’s wizardry is great on so many levels, and what a season for the SEC Champs! From 3-9 to 12-2, it was a helluva ride, and it’s only going to get better.
Ranked wins: #18 Texas A&M, #7 Alabama, #5 Missouri
Ranked Losses:#14 LSU, #1 FSU
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-2, 7-1)
Oklahoma proved teams can beat Alabama with ordinary players. It wasn’t Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton or Tim Tebow out there, it was Trevor Knight who brought his A-game. It takes a specific style of game to beat Alabama, and dominating the turnover margin like Oklahoma did certainly helps. It wasn’t that Alabama didn’t show up ready to play; Oklahoma just outplayed and outcoached the Tide. Still, I thought they were the second best team in the SEC, even though they did lose to the two highest ranked opponents they played.
Ranked wins: #18 Texas A&M, #14 LSU
Ranked Losses:#2 Auburn, #6 Oklahoma
3. South Carolina Gamecocks (11-2, 6-2)
This was possibly the greatest season ever for a team that didn’t win a BCS bowl or compete for the national championship. The Gamecocks beat two BCS bowl winners (UCF and Clemson), along with the Cotton Bowl winner, Mizzou. The Gamecocks have collected three 11-win seasons, and still, nobody is talking about South Carolina. The Gamecocks lost to two final unranked opponents in Georgia and Tennessee, and the Vols pretty much ruined everything.
Ranked wins: #10 UCF, #5 Missouri, #8 Clemson, #24 Vanderbilt, #22 Wisconsin
Ranked Losses: None
4. Missouri Tigers (12-2, 7-1)
For a team that was too soft and too finesse, Mizzou had an electrifying turnaround that took a back seat to only Auburn. The Tigers turned things around from 5-7 (2-6 SEC) to winning the SEC East. Yes, Mizzou will be remembered on a national level for losing to Auburn and giving up so many yards, but it was a season to remember in Columbia. And the Tigers aren’t going away anytime soon either.
Ranked wins: #24 Vanderbilt, #18 Texas A&M, #17 Oklahoma State
Ranked Losses:#4 South Carolina, #2 Auburn
5. LSU Tigers (10-3, 5-3)
LSU had the talent and scheme to finish much better than three losses. Ho hum – it’s another 10-win season for LSU, but the ceiling was much higher had a few plays gone their way. Iowa was a comfortable win for LSU, even though the score may not depict that. The offense was explosive, but the defense was a letdown at times. The Tigers were the only team to defeat the SEC Champions during the regular season.
Ranked wins: #2 Auburn, #18 Texas A&M
Ranked Losses: #7 Alabama
6. Texas A&M Aggies (9-4, 4-4)
Had Texas A&M had any semblance of a defense, they would have been a legitimate force. Instead, they had the country’s best player, and the country’s worst defense. The most impressive win the Aggies recorded during the season was a blowout win over Vanderbilt, and the second was beating Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. What’s the ceiling for the Aggies next year without Johnny Manziel? It will certainly be fun finding out.
Ranked wins: #24 Vanderbilt, #23 Duke
Ranked Losses: #7 Alabama, #2 Auburn, #14 LSU, #5 Missouri
7. Vanderbilt Commodores (9-4, 4-4)
This is what great coaching does for you: it helps you rewrite all the football history books in Nashville. For the first time in history, the Commodores have notched back-to-back nine-win seasons and back-to-back bowl victories. It helps having arguably the SEC’s top wide receiver in Jordan Matthews, who epitomizes the program. The Commodores played the weakest win/loss schedule in the SEC for 2014 and had no wins over final ranked teams.
Ranked wins: None
Ranked Losses: #4 South Carolina, #5 Missouri, #18 Texas A&M
8. Georgia Bulldogs (8-5, 5-3)
What a frustrating season for Georgia. From suffering season-ending injuries to having one of the worst secondaries in the SEC, eight wins and losing to Nebraska in the bowl game will stick in the Bulldogs’ craw all offseason. Georgia has an extreme amount of talent and experience (17 of 22 starters) coming back next year, but replacing Aaron Murray with Hutson Mason won’t be easy. But it’s actually big that Mason had his moments this year in the final three games.
Ranked wins: #4 South Carolina, #14 LSU
Ranked Losses: #8 Clemson, #24 Vanderbilt, #5 Missouri, #2 Auburn
9. Mississippi State (7-6, 3-5)
Mississippi State is one program that should become increasingly excited for 2014. Dak Prescott is a difference maker, and he’s one of the few returning starters next season. Even getting to a bowl was huge for MSU; blowing out Rice may not seem important, but to a young team overall, the confidence is at an all-time high. Could MSU be a surprise team in 2014 after such an impressive and surprising ending to 2013? Who would have thought the biggest game that got away came against Auburn, who played for the national championship?
Ranked wins: None
Ranked Losses: #17 Oklahoma State, #2 Auburn, #14 LSU, #4 South Carolina, #18 Texas A&M, #7 Alabama
10. Ole Miss Rebels (8-5, 3-5)
Ole Miss salvaged a disappointing finish with a bowl victory over Georgia Tech. The LSU win was impressive, and it was the only ranked team the Rebels beat, despite having 18 returning starters. Bo Wallace has to make great strides this offseason for the program to take the next step forward.
Ranked wins: #14 LSU
Ranked Losses: #7 Alabama, #2 Auburn, #18 Texas A&M, #5 Missouri
11. Tennessee Volunteers (5-7, 2-6)
Tennessee truly had a very tough season. Had they not played Oregon, the Vols would be bowling. Instead, they didn’t go bowling for their third straight season. Butch Jones has a strong recruiting class that will bring in some talent and help, but replacing the entire offensive line will be difficult. Is Josh Dobbs the future? Is Riley Ferguson the future? Can the defense improve? There are more questions than answers in Knoxville.
Ranked wins: #4 South Carolina
Ranked Losses: #9 Oregon, #7 Alabama, #5 Missouri, #2 Auburn, #24 Vanderbilt
12. Florida Gators (4-8, 3-5)
Florida had their worst year since 1979! Still, Will Muschamp will return, but a philosophical change on offense must be had. Florida lost their last seven games. Granted, it was to five ranked opponents, but losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern are unacceptable for a program that should compete for national titles, injuries or not. Florida plays one of the toughest schedules in college football every single year, but the Gators did go through injuries of biblical proportions to nine different starters. It was an overall forgettable year that will leave Muschamp sitting on the hottest seat in college football entering 2014.
Ranked wins: None
Ranked Losses: #14 LSU, #5 Missouri, #4 South Carolina, #1 Florida State, #24 Vanderbilt
13. Arkansas Razorbacks (3-9, 0-8)
The Razorbacks finished exactly where Auburn did last season, winless in the SEC. Bret Bielema needs to weed out the weak players and keep the strong. He also has a nice nucleus of returning players in RBs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, TE Hunter Henry and QB Brandon Allen, but he needs much better players at receiver. Bielema also needs more size and athleticism at linebacker and in the secondary. Overall, this team isn’t SEC-ready, but a couple more good recruiting classes will help. A bowl game is the expectation for 2014. Finishing the season on a nine-game losing streak isn’t what was expected.
Ranked wins: None
Ranked Losses: #18 Texas A&M, #4 South Carolina, #7 Alabama, #2 Auburn, #14 LSU
14. Kentucky Wildcats (2-10, 0-8)
Mark Stoops endured a tough first season in Lexington. Things really got off to a tough start after the loss to Western Kentucky. Wins against Miami (OH) and Alabama State were imperative. The ceiling was probably four wins entering the season. The Cats played Louisville, Florida and Mississippi State pretty tough. Stoops just needs athletes on both sides of the ball, primarily to fit his throw-it-around identity on offense. There’s another nice nucleus of players in the 2014 class, headlined by QB Drew Barker to help Kentucky get better. The defensive line wasn’t bad, led by DEs Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith, along with DT Donte Rumph.
Ranked wins: None
Ranked Losses: #15 Louisville, #4 South Carolina, #7 Alabama, #5 Missouri, #24 Vanderbilt
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