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WBN SEC Football Power Rankings


Welcome back, college football season. we missed you.  A lot.  Last we checked in, the Auburn Tigers were busy winning the SEC’s fifth straight national title.  There is a pretty good chance tha this streak reaches six this year, but as of now, the preseason power rankings may read like a version of “Crime and Punishment”.  We will try to leave it on the field and not focus on the off the field crap, but all of that could very well come back and bite some SEC teams this year.  Let’s take a look at the first power rankings of the season.

1.  ALABAMA (10-3 last season, preseason #2):  Mark Ingram and Greg McElroy are gone, and Trent Richardson and sophomore QB A.J. McCarron will have to step up and fill the void.  Trent Richardson is up to the job and for now, it does not appear like the T-Town Menswear fiasco will come to a resolution soon.  It is imperative that Richardson play as he will be deflecting the attention from the new kid under center and allow McCarron to get his feet wet.  Even if the offense struggles, Alabama returns 10 starters on defense so expect more nastiness from the D.  And if the other team does not score, you do not lose.  (9/3 vs Kent State) 

2.  LSU  (11-2 last season, preseason #4):  So far this year, the LSU Tigers are the national champions of drama.  As of now, the status of starting QB Jordan Jefferson is fully in the air and Jarrett Lee has been named the starter.  To be honest, I am not a big fan of Jefferson and considered him a fairly pedestrian QB, but the dual threat potential made him a dangerous player.  This was a LSU offense that went 11-2 with the worst passing game in the SEC last year anyway.  8 starters return from that ferocious defense, but LSU has their work cut out for them in week one.  (9/3 versus #3 Oregon)

3.  South Carolina (9-5 last season, preseason #12):  It is with some trepidation that I put the Gamecocks at number three, seeing how they closed out their season versus Auburn and Florida State.  Yet, the Gamecocks are the defending SEC East champions and they have two very dangerous stars in Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery.  It is also what seems like year eight of the Stephen Garcia experience and he has to end the Jekyll and Hyde bit for the Gamecocks to be a top 10 team.  I think that the Gamecocks have big question marks in the O-Line and the DB’s are shaky.  Look for freshman Jadevon Clowney to make a big impact on defense.  It’s a shaky SEC East and the Gamecocks rate as the best for now.  (9/3 vs East Carolina)

4.  Arkansas  (10-3 last season, preseason #15):  Arkansas just caught a tough break as RB Knile Davis was lost for the season due to an ankle injury, but the pressure is on Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson to pick up the slack.  New QB Tyler Wilson has three cupcakes to open the season and to get a grasp on the offense and it helps to have playmakers like Greg Childs catching the ball.  Arkansas has a nasty run defense and if the rest of the defense steps up, they could challenge in the West.  There are lots of question marks for the Hogs, but it appears they have the right people n the right slots to have a successful season.  (9/3 vs Missouri State)

5.  Mississippi State  (9-4 last season, preseason #20):  You can argue that the biggest loss to the Florida Gators recently has not been either Urban Meyer or Tim Tebow, but Dan Mullen.  Mullen has done a nice job turning this team around, but there are expectations this year, and that can be a different story.  Chris Relf could be poised for a breakout season.  He made nice strides developing his passing game, and we know that he is a threat running the ball.  Vick Ballard is back as well, giving the Bulldogs a couple of nice weapons.  The DL is solid , but the LB corp is all new and this could be an area of concern.  I don’t know if this is a nationally ranked team, and finishing in the top three of the West will be a struggle, but if you are looking for a darkhorse, look no further.   (9/1 @ Memphis)

6.  Georgia (6-7 last season, preseason #19):  A lot of the preseason optimism is focused on Aaron Murray building on a solid freshman campaign and hoping for Lattimore-like production from Isiah Crowell.  The Bulldogs will lead it since last years top rusher Ealey transferred .  You would think that with another year of the 3-4 defense, this will be a solid defense but it is still a shaky secondary.  Face it, there are lots of questions for Georgia and this could be a team set to go down in flames, especially if they get off to an 0-2 start versus Boise State and South Carolina.  The pressure is on and it could go either way.   (9/3  vs #5  Boise State)

7.  Florida  (8-5 last season, preseason #22)  Lots of questions in Gainesville as the Will Muschamp era begins.  First and foremost is the task of rebuilding the defense, from which only three starters return.  There is lots of talent on this team, but finding the right mix is the task.  Also, Charlie Weiss will have to perform a  minor miracle with Jeff Brantley, who was average last season and horrible in the spring game.  The Gators still have playmakersRainey, Demps, and Dunbar.  To be honest, this is as vulnerable as the Gators have been since the Zook years, but I look for them to finish around 8-5 again rather than totally fall apart.   (9/3  vs Florida Atlantic)

8.  Kentucky (6-7 last season):  Much has been said about the loss of Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke, and Mike Hartline, but Kentucky is not devoid of talent at the skill positions and they have two games to get some chemistry before facing Louisville.  Young players will have to step up, yes, but Kentucky does have a very solid offensive line can open up the passing lanes for Morgan Newton, who has the potential to be very good.  All the playmakers return on defense and you have to think that defensive co-ordinator Rick Minter can get some improvement from last year’s squad.  Plus, it is a very weak East conference.  If Kentucky can learn how to win the close games, they can open some eyes this year.   (9/1 vs Western Kentucky)

9.  Tennessee  (6-7 last season):  The Volunteers were not quite the joke they were expected to be last year, and a few bright spots such as  Tyler Bray and Tauren Poole emerged.  Look for players like Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers to be counted on to improve this year.  The offensive line is promising and the Vols should put some points on the board.  Tennessee has a good secondary, but only return one starter from their DL and LB corps, so those units can be exposed when you hit SEC play.  UT has a very soft out of conference schedule and should get enough SEC wins to be bowl bound again this year.  (9/3  versus Montana)

10.  Auburn  (14-0, preseason #23) 
Let’s pretend for a second that Auburn is the 23rd ranked team in the country.  They have a brutal schedule and no Cameron Newton.  As a matter of fact, only 8 starters of the 22 National Title starters return, so make no mistake, this will be a rebuilding year for Auburn and there is no way they will finish in the top four in the SEC West, so the preseason ranking is a joke.  They return exactly one starter on each the OL and the DL and these lines are the key to victory in the SEC. Michael Dyer returns and you have a lot of good young talent from a National Title fueled recruiting class, but let’s not get crazy.  The ceiling on this team is 8-4 with a 4-8 basement.  6-6 is likely.     (9/3  vs Utah State)  

11.  Mississippi  (4-8 last season): When is this whole “Black Bear” name change going to happen anyway?  Maybe when that happens, the Rebels will be competitive in the SEC West again.  Last season was a trainwreck and this season could be on par with that.  Ole Miss only returns three starters on defense, but since last years team was horrid, that could be a plus.  Randall Mackey pulled a Jordan Jefferson and was arrested in a fight at a bar, so for now, the starting QB is sophomore Barry Brunetti, what was 4-9 for 6 yards last year.  RB Brandon Bolden is back and the REbels actually have a solid OL, so there may be a lot of 40 carry games in Bolden’s future.  (9/3, vs BYU)

12.  Vanderbilt  (2-10 last season):  The Commodores return virtually everyone from last season’s 2-10 squad, but you have to love the enthusiam and confidence James Franklin brings to the job.  The ‘Dores return all 11 starters on offense and 8 starters on defense and you have to think that counts for something.  If QB Larry Smith can return to his form from a couple of years ago and if RB’s Warren Norman, Zac Stacy, and Wesley Tate can continue their progress, these Commodores can score some points.  And they have a decent secondary which will make some teams think about throwing deep.  Look for Franklin to re inspire this team’s gutty work ethic and you can see them giving some of the big boys scares this year.  (9/3 vs Elon)

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