Final SEC preseason power rankings for 2015
Preseason camp has come and gone, and thankfully, no teams suffered major quarterback injuries entering the season. But there are still a wide variety of quarterback questions.
If you look around the country, there are a number of predictions and rankings that point to a wide open Southeastern Conference this season.
Here’s how the SEC’s 14 teams stack up entering 2015, as voted on by our staff:
Fighting for Bowl Eligibility
14. Vanderbilt Commodores
13. Kentucky Wildcats
12. Florida Gators
11. South Carolina Gamecocks
Vanderbilt kicks us off at No. 14. The Commodores open the season against WKU, and Derek Mason needs to get off to a hot start. Can the Dores have a revival this year? The offense and overall team depth remain a huge question mark…Although Kentucky starts at No. 13, expect the Cats to move up throughout the season. Some have predicted UK to beat both Florida and South Carolina, who we rank just ahead of them. Kentucky has recruited well enough to return to bowl eligibility this season…Florida has to prove many people wrong this year. Jim McElwain is righting the ship, but it’s going to take time. We all know about the Gators’ talented defense, and if Florida comes out and has a pulse on offense, this ranking should improve…South Carolina faces a stiff test against UNC week one, and we’ll have a better idea of how to project the Gamecocks after their first game. USC needs answers at quarterback, defensive line and in the secondary.
Back of the SEC West but still in contention
10. Mississippi State Bulldogs
9. Texas A&M Aggies
Mississippi State has the league’s top quarterback, a bevy of wide receivers and plenty of offensive firepower. So, what’s missing? Most point towards the defense replacing eight starters. Anyhow, MSU can easily work its way back to the top much like last season. MSU enters the season as the least experienced team in the division…Texas A&M has been labeled by several as the SEC’s biggest dark-horse program. Arkansas may share that distinction with the Aggies, but TAMU is rated lower to start the season. Should Texas A&M roll out even just a middle-of-the-pack SEC defense, look out. For a team ranked No. 9, TAMU has the highest ceiling on the preseason rankings.
Competing for division crown
8. Tennessee Volunteers
7. Missouri Tigers
6. LSU Tigers
5. Arkansas Razorbacks
4. Ole Miss Rebels
Tennessee opens the season as the SEC East’s darling. UT has lost to Florida 10 years in a row, Alabama eight years in a row and Georgia five years in a row. Tennessee could still be a year away from reaching its potential, but there’s a nice collection of young talent in Knoxville…Despite being back-to-back SEC East champs, Missouri is getting little love entering the season. The Tigers have unproven players but have proven to be a legitimate player builder in college football. So, Mizzou starts in the middle of the pack in the SEC, and that’s right where they want to be…Although LSU’s quarterback position is still a question mark, the Tigers have one of the country’s most talented rosters. The offensive line, running game and wide receiver corps are loaded on offense. The defense enters its first season under new coordinator Kevin Steele, and we’ll see if they can keep the same level of play as under John Chavis…Arkansas is one of the SEC’s most interesting teams for 2015. The Hogs have a dominant running game, but questions remain if the passing attack can develop downfield threats to help offset the running game. Can the Hogs build on an overall impressive 2014 season?…Although Ole Miss has one of the country’s most talented rosters, it has to find a running game. Chad Kelly will lead a talented offense, while the Rebels’ defense should be elite once again. Can Ole Miss take the next step and win the loaded division? Depth is still a legitimate concern.
SEC Championship Favorites
3. Georgia Bulldogs
2. Auburn Tigers
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
The Georgia Bulldogs enter as the SEC East team to beat. However, can the Bulldogs maneuver the brutal schedule that features both Alabama and Auburn? UGA is led by a dominant backfield, experienced offensive line and tremendous pass rush. Is this the year the Bulldogs win the SEC Championship?…Auburn is the SEC’s preseason darlings from the media around the country. Jeremy Johnson and Gus Malzahn make an incredible duo, and the offense should light up the scoreboard. If Will Muschamp can put together even an above average defense, Auburn can make it to the College Football Playoff…Alabama is led by its tremendous defensive front seven in 2015. Nick Saban’s roster features an impressive depth chart and the most talented roster in college football. Can Alabama win the SEC Championship in back-to-back years and become just the second SEC team to do since 1997-98 Tennessee?