Where the 7 SEC teams rank in ESPN's Way-Too-Early Top 25 poll
As the page is quickly turned to 2020 in college football, early polls are coming out looking ahead to the fall, and where teams will — or should — be ranked.
That includes seven SEC teams from ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25.
For context, Mark Schlabach recalled, “Last year, the first edition of the 2019 Way-Too-Early list correctly predicted two of the top four, six of the top 10 and 14 of the top 25 teams in the final College Football Playoff selection committee rankings. Among the teams ranked too high: Notre Dame (who would have guessed?), Texas (you don’t say?) and Texas A&M (a year too soon?).”
With Clemson at No. 1, and Ohio State at No. 2, the SEC rankings went like this:
11. Texas A&M
Here’s how Schlabach described the SEC teams:
Despite a slew of injuries, Alabama still won at least 11 games for the ninth straight season. Meanwhile, much of LSU’s defense is coming back, and Ed Orgeron was fortunate to hang on to coordinator Dave Aranda for at least one more season. The same goes for 30-year-old wunderkind Joe Brady, who is working on a new deal to stay with the Tigers. Georgia’s defense carried the load in 2019 and should be stout again, especially with safety Richard LeCounte, linebacker Monty Rice and cornerback Eric Stokes electing to return.
There’s no question that Dan Mullen has stabilized Florida’s football program with a 21-5 record in two seasons. The next step is toppling Georgia in the SEC East, and the talent gap between the programs narrowed after the Bulldogs’ mass exodus of underclassmen.
Year 3 (under Jimbo Fisher) might bring better results, with the Aggies expected to bring back 18 starters on offense and defense. Fisher took his lumps playing 19 true freshmen this past season, and that decision might pay dividends in the near future. At Auburn, the top three pass-catchers are expected back, along with leading rusher JaTarvious Whitlow. Will coach Gus Malzahn loosen his reins on the offense after bringing in Chad Morris as his new coordinator?
There’s no question that the Volunteers are getting better under coach Jeremy Pruitt. The question heading into 2020 is how much have they closed the gap on SEC East rivals Florida and Georgia?