SEC preseason power poll

dshirley@macon.comAugust 14, 2013 

1. Alabama: It's almost not fair anymore with the Crimson Tide. They should be No. 1 in every poll or every ranking until someone knocks them off. We just haven't seen that much during Nick Saban's dominant era. Alabama is poised to win more titles and doesn't look ready to slow down any time soon after yet another unbelievable recruiting class, which leads to continued depth at just about every position.

2. Georgia: The Bulldogs were so close to playing for a national championship last year, but the Crimson Tide stood in their way. That might happen again this year, but this year's Bulldogs team, especially the offense, has a championship look.

3. South Carolina: The Gamecocks have the best player in the country (Jadeveon Clowney) and one of the best head coaches around (Steve Spurrier), and they have had Georgia's number recently. They just have to get over the next hurdle and not have a letdown if they're able to beat the Bulldogs again.

4. LSU: Sure, the Tigers lost a ton of talent to the NFL, but Les Miles and his coaching staff have enough players to be right in the hunt this year. LSU is being overlooked by a lot of folks, but that would be a big mistake.

5. Florida: Will Muschamp's program took a big step forward last year, but the Gators have to be more consistent and more versatile on offense to make the next jump. You can't be average on offense and be elite in the SEC or nationally.

6. Texas A&M: Is Johnny Manziel a one-year wonder? Will he even play after all the recent pay-for-autograph allegations? Those two questions will decide the Aggies' season.

7. Vanderbilt: The Commodores have made big improvements since James Franklin took over as their head coach, and he has made almost as much news off the field with his confidence in his program. The next big task for the Commodores is to be consistently strong in the country's daunting conference.

8: Mississippi: The Rebels pulled off several coups in recruiting this past year, but they have to make those pay off on the field. Mississippi could be much improved and still finish fourth in the devilish SEC West.

9. Tennessee: The Volunteers' program has been a mess for so long that it gets overlooked, and for good reason. Butch Jones is next up in line to try to straighten things out, but he has a tough job awaiting him. A strong offensive line should help his case this year.

10. Auburn: Tigers fans have to hope that Gus Malzahn was indeed the key to the team's run to a national title as the offensive coordinator for then-head coach Gene Chizik. If that's true, Malzahn could lead the Tigers back to greatness as their head coach. 

11. Arkansas: Bret Bielema was a surprise choice as the Razorbacks' head coach, but he has a proven formula from his days at Wisconsin: run the football and play tough defense. But you have to wonder if the Razorbacks will have the discipline needed to succeed after last year's debacle, considering who their former head coach was. Bobby Petrino's team and personal and professional lives have not exactly been filled with disciplined moments the past decade or so.

12. Mississippi State: Dan Mullen's program has been solid, but solid isn't good enough in the SEC West. Last year, the Bulldogs stormed to a 7-0 start against lesser teams only to finish 1-5 after the schedule got tougher.

13. Kentucky: Mark Stoops has energized the Wildcats' fan base, and he did a good job in recruiting last year (and that is carrying over this season). But there's a reason Joker Phillips was fired. The program Stoops inherited is a huge mess.

14. Missouri: Texas A&M and Missouri joined the SEC at the same time, and the Tigers are struggling through the expected adjustment period. The Aggies and Kevin Sumlin, however, have not, and that has to put Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel in hot water with Tigers fans.

 

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