1. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0, 0-0)- This was a no-brainer and, contrary to popular opinion, I do in fact have a brain. Alabama is returning two (2) time National Champion QB A.J. McCarron along with RB TJ Yeldon and LB’s CJ Mosley and Adrian Hubbard. And we can’t forget about blind side OT Cyrus Kouandjio. Experience and ability are what set this group apart with AJ throwing for nearly 3,000 yards, 30 TD’s and 3 Int’s and Yeldon rushing for over 1,100 and 12 TD’s not to mention his one TD receiving. When Mosley and Hubbard get after you and Mouandjio protecting, Nick Saban stands the greatest chance to 3-Peat, a feat that has never been accomplished.
2. #5 Georgia Bulldogs (0-0; 0-0)- Standing in the way of a 3-Peat is Mark Richt and Georgia. Returning starting QB, Aaron Murray was named preseason First Team All SEC over McCarron. That seems to indicate that Murray has greater talent as he strives outside of the Saban system. He has thrown for over 3,000 yards each of his first three (3) seasons and looks to break a few SEC records in total passing yards (11,528-David Green), TD passes (114-Danny Wuerffel), Completions (696-Chris Leak) and Passing Attempts (383-Jared Lorenzen). But without a doubt, the RB duo or Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will carry this team after their combined rushing proclivity of over 2,100 yards in 2012. The O-Line returning three (3) starters will set the Offense but their Defense took a HUGE hit with the losses of Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo so Armalo Herrera, Kwame Geathers and Jordan Jenkins have much work to do.
3. #7 Texas A&M Aggies (0-0; 0-0)- Having a reigning Heisman winning QB still at the helm would normally bode very well for a team but in this case, we aren’t even sure if he’ll be on the field against Rice in Game 1. Johnny Manziel is still dealing with the fallout of his autograph scandal where he allegedly profited $7,500 or so. If his eligibility is damaged and he misses games, the fall from Top 5 could be swift. They figure to rely heavily on JM’s feet but should rest that load on returning RB Ben Malena and OK transfer Brandon Williams. If Tra Carson and Trey Williams reach their potential then Kevin Sumlin could be looking at a better than 11-2 record. The only hiccup is that defense because they don’t have anyone that really stands out so they have to make the 11 work as one.
4. #12 LSU Tigers (0-0; 0-0)- Coming off a moderately disappointing 10-3 2012, ironically having Zac Mettenberger back will be huge for them. The kid can throw and, though his five (5) TD passes in SEC play must improve, it helps that Jeremy Hill was voted back on the team after appearing on “Cops.” They always say that “Speed Kills” so having the 99 receptions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry flying down the field, Miles will be flirting with another undefeated season. I don’t see it because their best Defensive player is Tackle Anthony Johnson
5. #6 South Carolina Gamecocks (0-0; 0-0)- Spurrier returns QB Connor Shaw and Jadeveon Clowney to the team but the loss of Marcus Lattimore and Ace Sanders will prove costly as they are looking to rebound from the rough season that was 2012. The tough position to gauge here is QB as Spurrier was forced to rotate between Shaw and Dylan Thompson last season and both played well in spurts. The only constant on the team is Clowney who is just a beast. Add to Clowney, Brison Williams in the secondary and Kelcy Quarles on the D-Line and you have a formidable combo that should be enough to contend for the SEC East crown.
6. #10 Florida Gators (0-0; 0-0)- Perhaps the biggest question mark among the “elite” SEC schools resides squarely on Will Muschamp down at Florida. He has a QB in Jeff Driskell that opposing Defenses gameplan to make him throw. I repeat…opponents want Driskell to throw. But in spite of Driskel, they managed to pull off an 11-2 2012 season for what that’s worth. They managed to land one of the best RB’s in this year’s class in Kevin Taylor. The kid is a speed beast and will compliment Matt Jones nicely. They’ll rely heavily on the receiving corps of DeMarcus Robinson and Andre Dubose as well as TE Kent Taylor. A lot of question marks still but if their Defense can win more games than Driskel loses then 11-2 isn’t out of the question.
7. Ole Miss Rebels (0-0; 0-0)- After a surprising first season under Hugh Freeze, expectations are out of this world. With Bo Wallace back as the consummate dual threat and a year under his belt, he and Dante Moncrief should explode this season. That is if they can eliminate some of those turnovers Wallace is prone to have. Their D is going to rely heavily on LB Denzel Nkemdiche and S Cody Prewitt or they’ll get smoked out West. With the way Freeze is recruiting, the Rebels should be able to hold their own for a while.