The AP College football poll was released on Sunday, and the SEC won the day. Overall, the SEC managed to get eight teams into the preseason rankings. Apparently, the voters couldn’t find room for Florida and Vanderbilt, but best believe those teams are on the radar.
For all of their preseason success, the SEC has two starting quarterbacks returning on the eight teams in the top 25. Nick Marshall of Auburn and Bo Wallace of Ole Miss are the only full time returnees. Could this be another year of defensive dominance in the SEC?
The Alabama Crimson Tide are coming off of two straight losses, yet that didn’t stop Nick Saban’s squad from coming in at No.2. The Crimson Tide aren’t even sure of their starting quarterback yet. Still, Alabama is almost deemed a lock to make the inaugural college football playoffs. They begin the season against West Virginia.
The No. 6 Auburn Tigers shocked the nation last season, and made it to the BCS championship game. They knocked off Alabama and played Florida State to a stand still. Even with quarterback Nick Marshall having a year under his belt, Auburn is still not getting the same respect as chief rival Alabama. The Tigers are a year stronger into Gus Malzahn’s system, so they may play even faster. Auburn starts off fast with a game against Arkansas.
No. 9 South Carolina is the third and final team in the top 10 for the SEC. The Gamecocks face off with Texas A&M, and they are expected to be in the national title hunt all season long. If they win the SEC East, they’ll be vying for that playoff spot. In similar fashion to many SEC teams, the Gamecocks will be breaking in a new starting quarterback Dylan Thompson.
The No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs have Todd Gurley and every other team in the SEC doesn’t have him. They will in Hutson Mason at quarterback, but the new signal caller hasn’t tempered any expectations for 2014. Georgia might be the best running team in the nation when it’s all said and done. The Bulldogs will try to exact revenge on Clemson Tigers to open the season.
The LSU Tigers are one spot behind Georgia at No. 13 and they will face a major hurdle to open the season. Leonard Fournette will be the major attraction as he has to help replace a boatload of offensive firepower that graduated to the NFL. Don’t count against the Tigers staying in the SEC West title hunt.
Ole Miss won eight games last season, so it’s only right that they join the top 20 at No. 18. Could it be a little high for the Rebels? Possibly, but with great expectations comes great responsibility. Their objective is to not lose the first game of the season. They face off with Boise State.
No. 21 Texas A&M named Kenny Hill as the starting quarterback for the Aggies. His debut will be at Williams-Brice Stadium in front of 80,000 people. A win will solidify Texas A&M after the Johnny Manziel era. However, if they lose and play poorly on offense, the Aggie faithful will long for the days of Johnny Manziel.
Missouri was the SEC runner up to Auburn, yet all their losses to graduation and defection dropped them to No. 24 in the AP poll. They’ll have two winnable games before they face UCF. They are roughly in the same spot as last season. Can the Tigers make another run in the SEC East? Maty Mauk will be a major factor.
The SEC has a lot to live up to this season as they try to recapture the national title. If the Florida Gators can find any offensive rhythm, they might triple their win total.