CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017: SEC Rankings
The 2017 CFN Preview ranking of all the SEC teams.
Where do the SEC teams rank going into the season? This is NOT a ranking of how the teams are projected or predicted to finish. This is a ranking of how good they all appear to be going into the fall.
Preview 2017: SEC Rankings
Fine, OKAY, Vanderbilt almost certainly won’t be the worst team in the SEC, and it might have found something offensively at the end of the regular season, but it still doesn’t have enough to do more than pull off a few upsets. Working around a loaded group of safeties and a stud of a back in Ralph Webb, repeating last year’s success might really be possible.
13. Ole Miss
The Rebels are going to be interesting. They’ll have the attitude and anger since they lost their coach and won’t be eligible to go bowling, but that won’t be enough to overcome a depth issue. They have some of the best players in the conference at their respective positions – DE Marquis Haynes, PK Gary Wunderlich, OT Greg Little and QB Shea Patterson – but more stars have to emerge.
12. Mississippi State
How far can QB Nick Fitzgerald carry the Bulldogs? He might not have the top receivers to throw to, but he’ll make everyone around him better. While the linebacking corps should be strong, the secondary could be an Achilles’ heel. Fortunately, Fitzgerald might just be good enough to keep the team going in shootouts.
11. South Carolina
It’s still going to take a while for Will Muschamp to create an SEC East powerhouse, if he’s actually able to do it, but he’s got the type of team in place that could grind out just enough wins to be pesky. Muschamp has the great linebacking corps, but he doesn’t have the line. He’s got the quarterback in Jake Bentley, but he doesn’t have quite enough star power. It might not be a pretty team, but it’ll be effective.
Do you believe it’s all for real? Do you believe the Wildcats can build on their breakthrough 2016 season and be even better? The difference might be an improved defensive front seven to go along with great offensive backfield that’ll explode. UK will come up with a few shocking wins, but there won’t be enough of them to take the East.
9. Texas A&M
Welcome to another season when the Aggies just won’t have it, even though it’ll look special at times. As always, the offense will have the pop to hang around with just about everyone, but that’ll only happen once the quarterback situation is settled. You don’t get better defensively losing Myles Garrett, but A&M might not be that bad.
Call 2016 an aberration. QB Drew Lock and the offense should be explosive – and now the other side will provide a little bit of help. The coaching staff is way too good and smart to let the defense be that miserable again. It won’t be stellar, but it’s not going to be the road kill it was throughout last season.
Bret Bielema always seems like he’s close to putting together something special, and this his Hog teams come up just short. He’s got a whale of a quarterback in Austin Allen to work the offense around, and finally, the defense might be just good enough to start winning some of the bigger games against the West power teams.
If the Vols couldn’t get the job done last year when it was loaded with experience and promise, why is it going to happen this time around with so many new moving parts? It’ll all come down to a run defense that was way too squishy soft. RB John Kelly and – most likely – QB Quinten Dormady will get the offense rolling, but that might not matter if everyone is running over and through the defensive front seven.
2016 was supposed to be the year the Tigers were going to rise back up into the national title chase, but that went bye-bye right away. This year’s version still doesn’t have the top quarterback options needed to take the SEC Championship, but the running game will be a killer and the defense should be fantastic again, especially with Arden Key and the pass rush shining.
Jarrett-mania is about to run wild – just like the rest of the Auburn offense. If it wasn’t for the running back tandem at Georgia – and some health concerns – the combination of Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson would get all the love, but the addition of Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham will make the biggest SEC impact. The defense will be just okay, but that shouldn’t matter. The offense will pick up the slack.
The addition of Malik Zaire should be just enough of a difference to finally give the Gators a real, live attack to worry about – at least when Antonio Callaway is back. And if Zaire isn’t under center, that means Feleipe Franks is the star quarterback the team’s been missing. As always, the defense is going to be a killer, the secondary will be great, and the team will win its share of tough games. Now it might just have the talent on the other side of the ball to win the biggest ones.
Can Kirby Smart get the job done in his second year at the helm? It’ll all come down to the offensive line that has to be better and rebuilt – at least a little bit – but if that’s in place, look out. The defense has all the pieces to be the star of the East, the 1-2 rushing punch of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel should be in the NFL, and the quarterbacks are going to be excellent – if they get time to work.
Another year, another season when Alabama is going to be really, really good at this whole college football thing. There are plenty of holes to fill, but the backfield is going to be devastating – remember, that was supposed to be an issue last year at this time – and the lines have reloaded. There’s no real weakness. If you’re hoping for the machine to start slowing down, it’s not happening this year.