Tag Archives: SEC

2021 SEC Football Preview

SEC Championship: Alabama over Georgia

SEC East

1. Georgia Bulldogs

Projected Record: 12-1

Wins: Clemson, UAB, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, Charleston Southern, Georgia Tech Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

Losses: Alabama (SEC Championship)

Georgia Logo

The offense is absolutely loaded with QB JT Daniels, RBs Zamir White and James Cook, and receivers Jermaine Burton, Kearis Jackson. When you also add in one of the best Tight End combinations in the country with Darnell Washington and Arik Gilbert this offense has a chance to be special. This doesn’t even include if George Pickens returns near the end of the year from a torn ACL. As for the offensive line, don’t worry. It will also be strong after returning three starters and high rated recruits waiting to take over.

The defense is also loaded. The defensive line has Jordan Davis and Travon Walker clogging the middle with Adam Anderson and Nolan Smith rushing on the edge. Quay Walker and Nakobe Dean are really solid linebackers as well. Secondary is the one area of concern as they replace a few key starters. Transfers Derrion Kendrick (Clemson) and Tykee Smith (West Virginia) should calm down the concern. Overall, this is one of the most talented teams in the country and a lock to win the SEC East.

2. Florida Gators

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: Florida Atlantic, USF, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Samford, Missouri, Florida State

Losses: Alabama, LSU, Georgia

Dan Mullen finally has what he wants for the offense… a mobile quarterback. Expect Mullen to utilize Emery Jones in the RPO game now that Kyle Trask graduated. Florida’s main issue is at the skill positions after they lost their top weapons (Kadarius Toney, Kyle Pitts, and Trevon Grimes). Add in an inconsistent offensive line and this offense will take a step back.

There are also questions on the defensive side of the ball. The best players on the defense are CB Kaiir Elam and edge rushers Zachary Carter and Brenton Cox. Outside of those players there are concerns. Expect the defense to still be OK and finish in the top half of the conference. The team as a whole will take a small step back after a fantastic 2020 season.

3. Kentucky Wildcats

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Louisiana Monroe, Missouri, UT-Chattanooga, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, New Mexico State, Louisville

Losses: South Carolina, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State

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Kentucky’s biggest question going into the season is who will start at quarterback? New QB Will Levis is intriguing, but he will have to win the job from Joey Gatewood and Beau Allen. Wan’Dale Robinson, a transfer from Nebraska, is a key addition who along with WR Josh Ali will give Kentucky at least a few weapons. This will be a classic Kentucky offense where it is led by the running game which features a strong offensive line and RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. (Averaged 6.6 YPC and 785 rushing yards).

The defense returns just four starters and are replacing two early round picks in Jamin Davis and Kelvin Joseph. Expect, the defense to not be as strong. Overall, Kentucky will be an average, tough SEC team.

4. Missouri Tigers

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Central Michigan, SE Missouri State, Boston College, Tennessee, North Texas, Vanderbilt, South Carolina

Losses: Kentucky, Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas

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QB Connor Bazelak showed some promise in his freshman year, the offense will evolve if he takes another step forward. As for the rest of the offense, it will be led by their line who returns four starters. However, Mizzou will need some skill players to step up as they lacked playmakers from last year. Returning WR Keke Chism and Ohio State transfer WR Mookie Cooper might be the guys to do it.

Defensively, Mizzou struggled in the last three games. Now, after having to replace some key players, I can’t see the Tigers defense making a huge jump in play. Edge rusher Trajan Jeffcoat and secondary players Ennis Rakestraw, Akayleb Evans (Tulsa transfer), and Martez Manuel are solid players and will keep the defense adequate. Expect Missouri to be a decent SEC team.

5. Tennessee Volunteers

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Bowling Green, Pittsburgh, Tennessee Tech, South Carolina, South Alabama, Vanderbilt

Losses: Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia

Tennessee Vol logo

New coach Josh Heupel brings his up-tempo offense to the SEC. The problem? The offense returns only two starters and they lost their two most explosive weapons in Eric Gray (transfer to Oklahoma) and Josh Palmer. QB Hedon Hooker (Virginia Tech transfer) looks like a lone bright spot in this offense.

Defensively, the Vols were hit equally as hard by exiting players. This defense is full of unproven talent. Texas transfer LB Juwan Mitchell will help a little, but expect this defense to look ugly at the start of the rebuild. Overall, it won’t look pretty in Knoxville this upcoming year.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks

Projected Record: 5-7

Wins: Eastern Illinois, East Carolina, Kentucky, Troy, Vanderbilt

Losses: Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Florida, Missouri, Auburn, Clemson

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The Gamecocks will rely on the run game with 1,000 yard rusher Kevin Harris and redshirt freshman Marshawn Lloyd (top rated recruit who missed last year due to injury). The offensive line also returns four starters. The problem is this roster does not have an established QB or any standout receivers. At least TE Nick Muse decided to return after a solid season

Defensively, South Carolina is loaded up front, but is heavily inexperienced in the secondary. The strength are edge rushers Aaron Sterling and Kingsley Enagbare. It will be interesting to see how Shane Beamer does in the first season with this team. Overall, a bowl game will be a solid finish for them.

7. Vanderbilt Commodores

Projected Record: 3-9

Wins: East Tennessee State, Colorado State, UConn

Losses: Stanford, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Missouri, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee

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It is the start of another rebuild at Vanderbilt. Offensively, the team returns eight starters including QB Ken Seals after a decent freshman season. The best offensive weapon will be WR Cam Johnson. On defense there is a clear lack of talent. Overall, don’t expect too much from this team.

SEC West

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Projected Record: 13-0

Wins: Miami, Mercer, Florida, Southern Miss, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Tennessee, LSU, New Mexico State, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia (SEC Championship)

Losses: None

Alabama logo

The 2020 National Champions return with quite a few pieces to replace on offense including Devonta Smith, Najee Harris, and Mac Jones. However, don’t expect too much of a drop off with QB Bryce Young taking over and young talent at the skill positions . This year the defense should be much improved with a loaded defensive line, great linebackers and edge rushers, and a secondary that returns everyone except Patrick Surtain II. Alabama is loaded again and should be National Champion favorites.

2. Texas A&M Aggies

Projected Record: 10-2

Wins: Kent State, Colorado, New Mexico, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Auburn, Ole Miss, Prairie View A&M, LSU

Losses: Arkansas, Alabama

Texas A&M Logo

The Aggies are absolutely loaded with impact players. On offense RB Isaiah Spiller, TE Jalen Wydermyer, WR Ainias Smith, and OT Kenyon Green are all future NFL players. The main concern will be who takes over for QB Kellen Mond (Haynes King or Zach Calzada) and replacing four offensive line starters. The quarterback and offensive line are keys to a good offense and shouldn’t be ignored.

Defensively, this is a top ten defense that returns nine starters. So, expect the Aggies to be  one of the best defenses in the nation. The defense is led by Demarvin Leal who should be a first round pick. Overall, the Aggies are talented… but the unknown at quarterback and offensive line makes me hesitant.

3. Ole Miss Rebels

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: Louisville, Austin Peay, Tulane, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, Liberty, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State

Losses: Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M

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Lane Kiffin had an explosive offense in his first year in Oxford. Year two’s offense will be even better and could be special. Losing wide receiver Elijah Moore hurts, but the offense has many other weapons including RB Jerrion Ealy. Also, the offense is led by one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, Matt Corral.   

Decent defense is going to be the key to a successful season. The linebackers are experienced with Lakia Henry, JacQuez Jones, and MoMo Sanogo. Sam Williams also provides the Rebels with a solid edge rusher. However, the question remains whether they are good enough on the defensive line and in the secondary. The Rebels need some improvement after finishing 126th in total defense last year. The Rebels top ten offense can only take them so far… for the Rebels to make the next step in the SEC West there has to be defensive improvement. Expect a solid team and a solid year for Ole Miss.

4. LSU Tigers

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: UCLA, McNeese State, Central Michigan, Mississippi State, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana Monroe

Losses: Ole Miss, Alabama, Texas A&M

After Myles Brennan’s injury, Max Johnson will be the starter for LSU at quarterback. As for the rest of the offense, look for WR Kayshon Boutte to follow up a breakout freshman season. One area that needs to improve is the running game after LSU finished 109thin rushing yards behind Tyrion Davis-Prince and John Emery Jr. 

Defensively, this is a talented bunch. It starts on the defensive line where Ali Gaye and Andre Anthony lead at edge rusher. Mike Jones Jr. was a big transfer pickup from Clemson who will play a roaming linebacker role. The strength is at corner where Derek Stingley Jr. and Eli Ricks  make up a fantastic duo. Expect a major improvement after finishing 124th in total defense last year.

Overall, it’s this is an experienced, talented team with a lot of upside. But, questions remain whether Coach Orgeron can get that talent to translate onto the field.

5. Arkansas Razorbacks

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Rice, Georgia Southern, Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Mississippi State, Missouri

Losses: Texas, Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU, Alabama

Coach Sam Pittman brings an Arkansas team that returns a ton on both sides of the ball. Offensively the question is KJ Jefferson ready to take over? He will have an established offense with WR Treylon Burks, RB Trelon Smith, and the entire offensive line returning. 

The defense will also see improvement after finishing 106th in total defense. An area Arkansas will focus on improving is pressuring the quarterback. The defense features a few key pieces including linebackers Grant Morgan and Bumper Pool, and safety Jalen Catalon. This will be a tough football team to play in 2021.

6. Auburn Tigers

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Akron, Alabama State, Penn State, Georgia State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina

Losses: LSU, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Alabama

Coach Bryan Harsin enters his first season with a decent football team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. However, the question remains can you trust Bo Nix? Further, this offense lost a lot of weapons, including their top three receivers. With unproven receivers and inconsistent offensive line, don’t expect a high powered offense. Instead, the offense will revolve around sophomore RB Tank Bigsby.

On defense, inside linebackers Zacoby McClain and Owen Pappoe make a great duo and play behind a good defensive line. The secondary should be a strength this year with Smoke Monday at safety and corners Roger McCreary, Nehemiah Pritchett and Ladarius Tennison. As mentioned, this team will be led by their defense. Expect Auburn to finish in the middle of the pack in the SEC West. 

7. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Louisiana Tech, NC State, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee State

Losses: LSU, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss

Other than their game against LSU, the offense was awful last year finishing 104th in total yardage. While the offense does return mostly everyone, the SEC defensive coordinators may have figured out Mike Leach’s scheme. The offense does have QB Will Rogers coming off an OK freshman season and a very good left tackle in Charles Cross. 

The 2020 team was actually led by their defense. However, this year the defensive front seven has depth concerns. What remains a strength is at cornerback with both Emmanuel Forbes and Martin Emerson returning. Look for Mississippi State to be solid defensively, but I’m not sure if there will be much of an offensive improvement. Expect a tough year for Mississippi State.

2020 SEC Football Preview

SEC Championship: Alabama over Georgia

SEC East

1. Georgia Bulldogs

Projected Record: 9-2

Wins: Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

Losses: Florida, Alabama (SEC Championship)

Georgia Logo

People are doubting Georgia since Jamie Newman opted out of the season… it is a mistake. JT Daniels may have beat out Newman and is a better fit for new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Outside of the quarterback position, Georgia has talent with RB Zamir White, RB James Cook, WR George Pickens, and Florida State graduate transfer TE Tre McKitty. Where I am concerned with the offense is replacing four starters including both tackles. Another major concern is will someone other than George Pickens step up at wide receiver?

The Bulldogs strength continues to be their defense as they are absolutely loaded and will most likely be a top three defense in the nation. Georgia returns almost all of their linebackers from last season including Monty Rice and Nakobe Dean. Additionally, they have a talented edge rushing tandem of Azeez Ojulari and Nolan Smith and a great defensive line that includes senior DE Malik Herring. The secondary is also filled with studs including Safety Richard LeCounte, CB Eric Stokes, and CB Tyson Campbell.

Final Outlook: Georgia might have the top defense in the nation, but the question remains can they improve offensively. The addition of JT Daniels helps, but JT Daniels missed last year with an injury. Anyways, Georgia is the top contender in the SEC East and has a realistic shot at the playoffs with only three major conferences playing.

2. Florida Gators

Projected Record: 8-2

Wins: Ole Miss, South Carolina, LSU, Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas Vanderbilt, Kentucky

Losses: Texas A&M, Tennessee

Kyle Trask is the best starting quarterback the Gators have had since Tim Tebow (Will Grier is debatable). While Florida finally found a competent quarterback, the skill positions took a hit from losing three starting wide receivers and starting RB. The main questions about this group is can new starting RB Dameon Pierce handle taking over the full load? Will new talented WRs Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney be able to step in Van Jefferson and Freddie Swain’s shoes? What isn’t a question is their best receiving target is back in TE Kyle Pitts. The offensive line is also experienced returning four starters from last year. The offense should be above average again, but don’t expect them to be Steve Spurrier’s Gator offenses from the 1990s.

Just like the year prior, this team will be lead by their defense. Defensive Ends Zachary Carter and Georgia transfer Brenton Cox are tasked to replace last year’s dangerous NFL duo of Jabari Zuniga/Jonathan Greenard. In the secondary, corners Marco Wilson and Kaiir Elam make for a strong duo. Although Florida lost their leading tackler from last season, Ventrell Miller has shown to be capable of taking over. Even with the losses of some key pieces to the 2019 Gator defense, this unit is still talented.

Final Outlook: Florida is Georgia’s biggest competition in the East as they are good on both sides of the ball, but you have to give the edge to Georgia right now.

3. Tennessee Volunteers

Projected Record: 6-4

Wins: South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Florida

Losses: Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn

Tennessee Vol logo

The main question is who will start at quarterback after both Jarrett Guarantano and Brian Maurer received playing time last year. Freshman Harrison Bailey was a wildcard to start, but with no spring practice it looks like he will have to wait his turn. The offensive unit is led by its experienced offensive line. With incoming Georgia transfer Cade Mays (if his waiver appeal is granted) and dominant guard Trey Smith, this unit is one of the best in the country. The Vols have to find a receiver to step up after losing Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway to graduation.

Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt has this defense heading in the right direction. LB Henry Too-To’o is one of the best in the conference and the defensive line is stout also with Darel Middleton, Aubrey Solomon, and Emmit Gooden. Add in a secondary who finished 16th in the nation in passing yards allowed led by CB Bryce Thompson and this defense should be looked at as a legitimate unit.

Final Outlook: A veteran defense and great offensive line makes the Vols a wildcard contender in the SEC East. However, it will probably be another year until we talk about them as true contenders in the SEC East.

4. Kentucky Wildcats

Projected Record: 5-5

Wins: Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, Vanderbilt

Losses: Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina

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QB Terry Wilson is back after his season ending injury which forced Kentucky to use a receiver at quarterback last year. Kentucky has a stable of running backs returning led by Asim Rose and returns one of the best offensive lines in the conference. Nobody knows how good this receiving unit is because… well… they never threw the ball last year.

The defense returns most of their starters after finishing 21st in the nation last year. The unit is led by OLB Jamar Watson who returns after a 6.5 sack season.

Final Outlook: People will overlook Kentucky, but this is a legitimate team in the East. It may not be sexy, but they’ll win a lot of games by running the ball and playing good defense.

5. Missouri Tigers

Projected Record: 3-7

Wins: Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas

Losses: Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi State

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It will be a major test for new Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz. The offense has a new starting quarterback with Shawn Robinson, transfer at TCU. While Robinson displayed a talented arm during his time at TCU, he was often inconsistent with his accuracy. Add in an inconsistent offensive line and this offense might struggle. At the skill positions Missouri has only a few legitimate options including RB Larry Roundtree and Virginia Tech graduate transfer Damon Hazelton (All-ACC recognition the past two years).

Missouri’s defense was actually good last year ranking in the top 20. Drinkwitz was impressed enough to keep the entire defensive coaching staff. The defense returns most of its starters including LB Nick Bolton, a potential first round pick and SEC leader in tackles. Safeties Tyree Gillespie and Joshuah Bledsoe are a strong safety combination and 310-pounder DT Kobie Whiteside (6.5 sacks) is a disrupter.

Final Outlook: This is where the bottom of the SEC East starts. While Missouri should have a solid defense, their offense is filled with questions. The questions are amplified as Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz didn’t have the opportunity to install his offense during spring practice. Don’t expect anything special from Missouri.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks

Projected Record: 2-8

Wins: Vanderbilt, Kentucky

Losses: Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Missouri, Georgia

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The offense is filled with more questions than answers. It starts at quarterback where sophomore Ryan Hillinski must make an improvement after only completing 58.1% last year. There are rumors floating out of Columbia it will actually be Colorado State QB Collin Hill taking the starting snaps. Either way the quarterback will have to find help as the receivers are unproven and the offensive line is average. The lone bright spot was freshman MarShawn Lloyd, who was a top fifty recruit… but he was lost for the season. This offense is the definition of shaky.

A defense that was average last year loses a few key starters including first round pick Javon Kinlaw, DJ Wonnum, and TJ Brunson. The loss of these key Gamecocks leaves the defense with holes they may not be able to fill. However, South Carolina returns its sack leader from last year DE Aaron Sterling (6 sacks), the leading tackler Ernest Jones (97 tackles), and a talented cornerback duo of Jaycee Horn (son of Joe Horn) and Israel Mukuamu. There is also five-star true freshman DE Jordan Burch who should receive action right away.

Final Outlook: South Carolina will finish in the bottom half of the SEC East. With an offense full of questions, a defense who lost several key starters from last year, and an all-SEC schedule…getting over 3 wins will be a struggle.

7. Vanderbilt Commodores

Projected Record: 0-10

Wins: None

Losses: Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina, Missouri, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia

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Vanderbilt doesn’t have a legitimate quarterback option as the competition is between freshman Ken Seals and JUCO transfer Jeremy Moussa. Vanderbilt also replaces a trio of key players on offense with RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, WR Kalija Lipscomb, and TE Jared Pinkney. Not to mention the offensive line is also bad. All signs point to this being a historically terrible offense

Vanderbilt returns basically their entire defense… well before a few players opted out. The defense also finished 101st in the nation last year. Defensive lineman Dayo Odeyingbo is a legitimate player, but there aren’t many other bright spots on defense.

Final Outlook: Not only do I not think Vanderbilt will not win a SEC game, I don’t see them being competitive. The Vanderbilt offense could be historically bad and the defense is nothing to rely on with all the opt outs. Vanderbilt is in for another rough season where I don’t think they even hit 100 points on offense.

SEC West

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Projected Record: 10-1

Wins: Missouri, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, Kentucky, Mississippi St., Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia (SEC Championship)

Losses: Georgia

Alabama logo

Although Alabama does not have Tua returning, the offense should continue to be explosive. Wide receivers Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie will be one of the most dangerous trios in the nation, Alabama returns the best offensive line in the nation and RB Najee Harris is a top five running back. The major question will be if Mac Jones holds onto the starting job over the top recruit in the country Bryce Young.

Last year Alabama’s defense was different… as in they weren’t dominant. However, expect a major improvement especially with LB Dylan Moses returning after missing last season with a torn ACL. The defensive line is deep and talented after the Crimson Tide was forced to play young players last year due to injuries. A key for the Tide is finding who will step up as the edge pass rushers following Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings heading to the NFL. Reports out of camp say true freshman Will Anderson is a “grown man and beast”. Learn the name now. In the secondary, safety Jordan Battle is a breakout candidate after a tremendous freshman season and CB Patrick Surtain Jr. is one of the best in the country.

Final Outlook: Alabama has the roster to be National Champions, but without an elite quarterback and a tough SEC schedule makes it a tough road. However, this team has the most talented roster in the country. Expect Alabama to be out on a 2020 revenge tour.

2. LSU Tigers

Projected Record: 7-3

Wins: Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Missouri, South Carolina, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss

Losses: Florida, Auburn, Alabama

Coming off a dream season, the 2019 LSU Tigers were one of the best of all-time. But now they must replace an elite quarterback (Joe Burrow) with Myles Brennan. Not only the quarterback, but 16 players from that team went to the NFL Combine. On offense alone they must replace four starters on the offensive line, two starting tight ends, their starting running back and two wide receivers. Despite all these losses, LSU does return a few solid receivers and a capable running back in Chris Curry. Losing Jamarr Chase due to opting out will hurt.

The defense was also hit hard by departures to the linebacking group which saw Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips leave for the NFL Draft and Marcel Brooks hit the transfer portal. The replacements will include Damone Clark and North Dakota State transfer Jabril Cox (FCS All-American). The defensive line should be fine as they return Tyler Shelvin (UPDATE: Shelvin Opting out), Siaka Ika, and Glen Logan. Even with the loss of Kristian Fulton, Grant Delpit, and Kary Vincent Jr (opt out)… safety JaCoby Stevens and CB Derek Stingley are key pieces to the defense back to lead the secondary.

Final Outlook: LSU is still a talented team, but losing that many talented players to the NFL and opt outs will not be easy to overcome. Add in a quarterback who hasn’t seen much action and it is practical to expect LSU to take a step back.

3. Texas A&M Aggies

Projected Record: 7-3

Wins: Vanderbilt, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Auburn

Losses: Alabama, Mississippi State, LSU

Texas A&M Logo

The Aggies return a ton of starters to an 8-5 team that beat everyone they were supposed to beat and lost to everyone they were supposed to lose to. Kellen Mond is back for his senior year and so is their leading rusher Isaiah Spiller, leading receiver Jhamon Ausbon (just kidding… he opted out), talented tight ends Jalen Wydermyer/Baylor Cupp, and a veteran offensive line. Depth at running back and wide receiver are a concern, but the Aggies offense will go as far as Kellen Mond takes them.

The Aggies return 8 starters to a pretty good defense from 2019. The defensive line is talented up front with Demarvin Leal and Bobby Brown III. The Aggies also return their top two tacklers LBs Anthony Hines (just kidding… he opted out too) and Buddy Johnson. The secondary was suspect at times last year, but returns most of the starters and has depth with 5-star cornerback Jaylon Jones and top JUCO cornerback Brian George.

Final Outlook: The question remains, is Kellen Mond ready to take a step forward? This should be the season A&M finally takes the step forward with their talent on defense, but consistency will be key with an all SEC schedule.

4. Auburn Tigers

Projected Record: 6-4

Wins: Arkansas, South Carolina, Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee

Losses: Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M

Can you trust Bo Nix? He had his moments, but completed just 57.5% of his passes as Auburn mostly won with the ground game. Now Auburn must replace the entire offensive line and has no clear starter at running back. The receiver room is the one experienced unit with Seth Williams, Anthony Schwartz, and Eli Stove all returning. However, unless Bo Nix takes a step forward, this offense might be in trouble.

The defense also is replacing a lot from last year including four of five secondary starters, and two key defensive linemen Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson. DE Big Kat Bryant, DT Tyrone Truesdell, LB KJ Britt and OLB Owen Pappoe are solid returning starters, but there isn’t much else. Auburn has work to do on this end of the ball.

Final Outlook: A questionable offense with major replacements needed on defense… Auburn will most likely not be competing for a SEC West title in 2020.

5. Ole Miss Rebels

Projected Record: 3-7

Wins: Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State

Losses: Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Texas A&M, LSU

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What new Head Coach Lane Kiffin does with this offense will be interesting. Ole Miss finished as a top three SEC offense and top ten national rushing offense. Ole Miss returns both QBs John Rhys Plumlee and Matt Corral along with thalented sophomore rusher Jerrion Ealy. WR Elijah Moore is also solid finishing with 850 yards last season, but they will need another receiving option to step up. The offensive line should also be a decent unit for the Rebels.

On defense, Ole Miss was absolutely burned through the air finishing 120th nationally. The secondary and interior defensive line are the areas of concern. However, Ole Miss has a talented linebacker unit with Lakia Henry, Jacquez Jones, and MoMo Sanogo. The sack leader DE Sam Williams also returns. With the added experience, Ole Miss should make an improvement.

Final Outlook: Ole Miss is an extremely intriguing team going into 2020. Ole Miss is talented enough to surprise a few teams with their offense under Lane Kiffin.

6. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Projected Record: 3-7

Wins: Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Missouri

Losses: LSU, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss

Mike Leach had his biggest victory getting KJ Costello as a grad transfer quarterback from Stanford. Costello and returning RB Kylin Hill should be the best at their respective positions in the SEC. The questions remain how Mike Leach can install his air raid offense with Mississippi State’s lack of top end receivers and an adequate offensive line. Alabama grad transfer WR Tyrell Shavers should play right away alongside Osirus Mitchell.

The defense took a step back last year from a unit in 2018 that was one of the nations best. Mississippi State may make another regression after losing some key starters. The defensive line will be the strength with Nathan Pickering and Kobe Jones leading. LB Erroll Thompson is also extremely talented and the leader of the defense.

Final Outlook: Mississippi State has a talented quarterback and running back, but installing Leach’s offense in year one with no spring practice may be difficult. Add in an average defense and only a few wins seems likely.

7. Arkansas Razorbacks

Projected Record: 2-8

Wins: Ole Miss, Mississippi State

Losses: Georgia, Auburn, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Missouri, Alabama

The offense and defense were abysmal in their 2-10 season last year. However, this 2020 Arkansas team could surprise some people with a great staff put together by head coach Sam Pittman which includes offensive coordinator Kendall Briles and defensive coordinator Barry Odom. The offense returns eight starters and adds Florida grad transfer QB Feleipe Franks. This is a decent enough offense, especially with 1100 yard rusher Rakeem Boyd, to take a step forward from last season.

The defense landed quite a few graduate transfers including Clemson DE Xavier Kelly, Oklahoma LB Levi Draper, and Arkansas State CB Jerry Jacobs. The group should help the six returning starters to the defensive unit. The defense is led by second leading tackler from last season LB Bumper Pool. The Razorbacks will improve from their 110th ranked defense last year.

Final Outlook: This team’s outlook looks much better than last year as there is some decent talent sprinkled throughout the roster. Arkansas is facing one of the hardest schedules as they play all top 7 teams in the SEC. Still, look for Arkansas to win their first SEC game since 2017.