By Hunter Hart
The Southeastern Conference proved its dominance once again in the 2018-19 college football season. Although Clemson of the ACC won the College Football Playoff National Championship game, the SEC finished with six teams in the AP top 20, four of which were ranked within the top 10.
What’s even scarier for the rest of the college football world is that much of the talent- especially on the offensive side of the ball, is returning. Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm, Kellen Mond and other top quarterbacks are back to compete once again.
Off the field headlines have also been a large story within the SEC. They started when Kelly Bryant decided to transfer to Missouri, picking Mizzou over other conference foes Auburn and Arkansas. The trend of transferring continued when former #1 recruit Justin Fields announced he was leaving Georgia for Ohio State.
However, the biggest offseason news came when the NCAA punished Missouri for a tutoring scandal by handing down a 2019-20 bowl ban. The news came as a shock to most of the country as it was unknown that the Tigers were being investigated for a violation.
KCOU Sports’ Hunter Hart offers his projections as they currently stand:
- Alabama Crimson Tide (2018 record: (14-1)(8-0 SEC))
Despite a poor showing against Clemson in the National Championship, the Tide reigned over the SEC yet again. Alabama has won four of the past five SEC Championships and has made the College Football Playoff each of the past five years. It does not appear that this year will be any different. The Tide will lose stars such as Quinnen Williams, Jonah Williams and Damien Harris to the NFL. However, key pieces are returning to an already high-powered offense. Tua Tagovailoa will have his top two playmakers from the 2018 season: Jerry Jeudy and Jaylen Waddle. He will also have Najee Harris in the backfield with him. On the defensive side of the ball, Alabama gained two huge wins when Raekwon Davis and Trevon Diggs announced that they were staying in Tuscaloosa for the 2019 season. Alabama also has a favorable schedule, avoiding inter division foes Georgia and Florida. A game at Jordan-Hare Stadium against Auburn kept the Tide out of the conference championship in 2017. Alabama returns to that stadium this year, in what will likely be their toughest regular season game. If they can make it past their in-state rival, we will see Alabama in Atlanta once again.
- Georgia Bulldogs (2018 record: (11-3)(7-1 SEC))
Georgia had one of the strongest cases to be included in the 2018 College Football Playoff, but the committee gave the nod to Oklahoma instead. In last year’s SEC Championship Game, the Bulldogs led/were tied with Alabama for 59 minutes. This was similar to the 2017 National Championship when Georgia controlled almost the entire game before the Tide stormed back to force overtime. Despite the lack of ability to finish big games, Georgia has been extremely successful since Kirby Smart took over in 2016, going 32-9 in his first three years. However, Bulldog Nation is hungry for just one thing- and that’s overthrowing Alabama. The two teams don’t face off in the regular season but will likely meet in the SEC Championship again.
- Florida Gators (2018 record (10-3)(5-3 SEC))
Florida’s impressive performance against Michigan in the Peach Bowl gave Gator fans hope for the 2019 season. The story of 2018 was inconsistency for the Gators, winning at Mississippi State and against LSU but also falling to Missouri and Kentucky at home. Still, it was a solid start to Dan Mullen’s tenure at Florida. After going 4-7 in 2017, the Gators hired Mullen and saw immediate improvement. Quarterback Feleipe Franks is returning. He struggled in their losses but put together a good season for a sophomore quarterback. If he can continue to improve, the Florida offense may be able to keep up with the Gator defense, which is a scary thought for the rest of the SEC. The Gators have a tough three game stretch against LSU, South Carolina and Georgia. If they are able to win two of those three games, especially the one against Georgia, Florida will be a prime position to win the SEC East for the first time since 2015.
Here’s how the rest of the conference stacks up:
- LSU Tigers (2018 record (10-3)(5-3 SEC))
- Auburn Tigers (2018 record (8-5)(3-5 SEC))
- Texas A&M Aggies (2018 record (9-4)(5-3 SEC)
- South Carolina Gamecocks (2018 record (7-6)(4-4 SEC))
- Missouri Tigers (2018 record (8-5)(4-4 SEC))
- Mississippi State Bulldogs (2018 record (8-5)(4-4 SEC))
- Tennessee Volunteers (2018 record (5-7)(2-6 SEC))
- Kentucky Wildcats (2018 record (10-3)(5-3 SEC)
- Vanderbilt Commodores (2018 record (6-7)(3-5 SEC))
- Ole Miss Rebels (2018 record (5-7)(1-7 SEC))
- Arkansas Razorbacks (2018 record (2-10)(0-8 SEC))
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org