We are less than one week away from the first game of the 2018 college football season. In 2017 the country saw two teams from the same conference face off for the first time in the College Football Playoff era. Alabama has been a powerhouse in their conference for years, but if last season was any indication, the gap is closing. Today we rank the ten best teams from the Southeastern Conference.
The Crimson Tide are coming fresh off another national championship, and sit atop the AP Poll. They are unquestionably the best team in the SEC. Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa have shown that head coach, Nick Saban may be seeing an embarrassment of riches. He’s left with the dilemma of riding with Hurts or appointing Tagovailoa. Hurts has shown the ability to win games, but Tagovailoa has already shown the ability to open up the offense and utilize his 5-star weapons on the biggest stage. As this has been seen as a potential “problem” (having 2 talented QBs vying for one spot), it is a “problem” most teams would like to have.
Coming in at second are the Georgia Bulldogs. Last season Georgia showed the ability to go head to head and contend for a championship with Alabama and they aren’t looking to slow down. Head coach and defensive mastermind, Kirby Smart is one of Saban’s many disciples. Smart was able to secure 2018’s best recruiting class in the nation. Although he lost his 2 star running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb to the NFL, Smart has already filled the void at the running back position. D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield will be the two-headed monster of Georgia’s future. Let’s not forget that quarterback, Jake Fromm turned 20 last month and has at least two more seasons of picking apart defenses.
Last season Auburn showed that they have the ability to compete with any SEC team on any given Saturday. The Tigers beat both Alabama and Georgia, but still missed out on competing in the College Football Playoffs. Quarterback, Jarrett Stidham has the ability to take a leap this year and show the country that he’s one of the best quarterbacks in his conference and maybe even the nation Stidham threw for 3158 yards and had a 66.5 completion percentage (earning himself first-team All SEC honors) in 2017. With great quarterback play and a stiff defense, Auburn will make for a tough opponent when facing any SEC team.
#4. Texas A&M
Jimbo Fisher is Texas A&M’s hopeful upgrade from former head coach, Kevin Sumlin. Fisher brings a championship pedigree to College Station after winning a national championship at Florida State University in 2013 with Jameis Winston and company. Fisher is looking to quickly change the culture of Texas A&M, a program notorious for hot starts to their season and cold endings. Fortunately for him, he is inheriting one of the more talented teams in the SEC. Now he just has to make lemonade with the lemons Sumlin left for him.
#5. Mississippi State
Mississippi State is the hot pick as the dark horse to represent the SEC West in the SEC championship. Although I think they will be a strong team, I’m not willing to take a gulp of Kool-Aid that big. Joe Moorhead is the new head coach and former Penn State offensive coordinator. Moorhead’s offensive mind should pair perfectly with his quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. The Bulldogs are slept on every year, but more often than not end up being one of the top 25 teams in the country. Don’t press snooze on them this season.
Year in and year out, Louisiana State University has one of the best defenses in the country with tons of NFL talent. We’re in the Ed Orgeron era of LSU football and there hasn’t been much improvement since Les Miles’ departure. They still have a great defense and no quarterback. Joe Burrow, and Ohio State transfer and Myles Burrow are battling it out for the starting quarterback position. All signs are indicating to Brennan being named the starter when they open against Miami. If Burrow can be even slightly above average, LSU will take a step forward from last season.
#7. South Carolina
The Gamecocks have a superstar in the making in wide receiver, Deebo Samuel. Samuel was named to the coaches All-SEC first team offense. Jake Bentley is a solid quarterback that can help South Carolina stay relevant in the SEC East. Will Muschamp and his Gamecocks will look to upset some teams while flying under the radar this season.
Dan Mullen is the new head coach for the Florida Gators and is looking to have them among the top SEC teams sooner rather than later. Florida finished 2017 with a record of 4-7 (3-5 SEC). With the SEC East looking even weaker than last season, a jump in the team’s record wouldn’t come as a surprise. Junior running back, Lamical Perine will look to be the shining light in the Gators offense this upcoming season.
Drew Lock is undoubtedly one of the star quarterbacks in the SEC. He was named to the coaches All-SEC first team offense. In 2017 he threw 44 touchdowns and was the leader of a high-powered offense. The Tigers’ offense wasn’t much of a problem last season, but their defense routinely gave up huge plays to their opponents. The defense held teams to under 21 points just four times last season and more of the same may come this season.
The Commodores got off to a hot last season and was praised for their strong defense. The past three seasons have been relatively stagnant for Vanderbilt. They’ve shown no real signs of improvement or a falloff. They consistently sit at right below average. Derek Mason will be entering his fifth season as the head coach and he’ll be hoping to surpass national expectations with his squad.