Y’all might not like this, but the South Carolina Gamecocks are going to be toward the bottom of my power polls until we prove otherwise. But, without further ado, here is GABA’s Week 1, SEC Power Poll!
1) Alabama Crimson Tide - Yes, they are replacing Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry at QB and Jake Coker, who came around toward the end of 2015, at QB. But while other programs may take a couple seasons to rebuild from that, Alabama has proven time and time again that they simply reload. Until somebody knocks them off the top spot, the defending national champs are in my top spot. We’ll learn about Alabama fairly quickly in their opening game against the Trojans of Southern Cal.
2) LSU Tigers - Pulling in at a somewhat close second place are the Bayou Bengals of LSU. LSU made a good hire in Dave Aranda as their defensive coordinator and they have All-World runningback Leonard Fournette returning. However, the progression of Brandon Harris at QB is going to tell the tale of LSU’s season. To beat Alabama and get to the College Football Playoff, LSU will need Harris to take several steps forward and give them a formidable passing attack to compliment Fournette and company.
3) Tennessee Volunteers - With pretty much everyone, including Josh Dobbs, returning from last year’s team, the Vols are the presumptive favorite to win the East. While Butch Jones led teams are prone to laying an egg along the way, the rest of the SEC East is just too much of an unknown for me to pick anybody else higher than UT.
4) Ole Miss Rebels - Chad "Swag" Kelly is back to lead an explosive Ole Miss offense. The Rebels, with the loss of Robert Nkemdiche on defense, along with some others, have some holes to fill on that of the ball.
5) Georgia Bulldogs - The Georgia Bulldogs, now led by Saban acolyte Kirby Smart, are feeling the buzz in Athens, GA. While Smart is looking to put his mark on the defense, the Bulldogs will be breaking in true freshman QB Jacob Eason. Making Eason’s job even tougher is Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are both recovering from injuries that date back to the 2015 season. Luckily for Eason, he has a talented defense and some athleticism on the perimeter to work with in what is likely to be his first start against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
6) Florida Gators - Their conquering hero has returned (good riddance), and then promptly named Luke Del Rio their starting QB. While the defense should be very good again, I’m not sold on the fact that Florida has solved their QB problem. Time will tell.
7) Arkansas Razorbacks - Bret Bielema’s rushing attack will be good, as always. But they are facing down one of the tougher schedules. I think they get to 7 wins, but beating TCU, LSU, Ole Miss and Alabama is going to be a tough task.
8) Texas A&M Aggies - The Texas A&M coaching staff is an absolute dumpster fire - LIVE LOOK HERE. But they brought in Trevor Knight and have a load of talent on the perimeter, so I guess that counts for something.
9) Auburn Tigers - Gus Malzahn named Sean White their starter at QB against Clemson. Other than that, Auburn is a big ol’ mystery. Will 7 or 8 wins be enough to save Malzahn’s job? We’re about to find out. He’d win a lot of support back over if he can pull an opening week upset over our orange friends to the north.
10) Mississippi State Bulldogs - The Bulldogs have had an, um, odd offseason. Mostly mired in controversy, it will be interesting to see how the Bulldogs move forward as the dust settles.
11) Kentucky Wildcats - I’ve got the Wildcats down for another 5 win season. Mark Stoops won’t be in Lexington next offseason as he’ll be looking for a new job. Proving yet again that, just because you have a famous last name, doesn’t mean you can coach. Still though, the Wildcats have a high profile recruit at QB in Drew Barker and there is some excitement in Lexington.
12) Vanderbilt Commodores - Well, it looks like Derek Mason got the defensive side of the ball figured out. The next question is: can the ‘Dores score enough points? It looks like the hope in Nashville lies in the legs of Ralph Webb and the arm of Kyle Shurmur.
13) South Carolina Gamecocks - You guys are probably going to hate me for putting us so low, but until we know more about our team, I can’t justify putting the Gamecocks any higher. We’ll find out quickly in the month of September as 3 of our first 4 games are SEC road games.
14) Missouri Tigers - Barry Odom is a nice guy and probably a good hire. He’s going to keep the defense respectable this year. The big question, again, is can the Tigers score points? Probably not and, if that holds true, it’ll be a long first season for Barry Odom.