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SEC Football Power Rankings pre-Week 1

With football returning in earnest this weekend, a look at every team in the SEC.

SEC Championship - Missouri v Auburn Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Beginning this series, the easiest decision I had to make was who number one in the rankings. It’s Alabama. If you disagree with that, you’re simply wrong.

These power rankings are pretty much going to be factual as the season goes along, but now my opinion of teams is twisted in a lot. It will be impossible for me to watch every game on Saturdays, but I’ll try my absolute best to be impartial and rank them as accurately as possible.

Let’s get this started.

14. Missouri Tigers

Arkansas v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Missouri did drop 60+ in two games last year, but it was against Delaware State and Western Michigan. Can’t say I remember either of those teams existing. With an established QB1 in Drew Lock, Barry Odom doesn't specifically have to worry about that position. However, he does have to worry about replacing Charles Harris, the Tigers best player from a year ago. Hopefully for Mizzou, Damerea Crockett can come back strong after being under suspension for the last game of the year for being arrested for possession of marijuana.

13. Vanderbilt Commodores

Tennessee v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Despite becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2013, this year’s schedule doesn't look very forgiving for the Commodores this year, with trips to Alabama, Ole Miss, and USC on the slate. Losing Zach Cunningham to the NFL is going to hurt this defense a lot, but Ralph Webb returning is a very good sign. A simple goal for the Vandy would be to make a bowl, and with some luck they may.

12. Ole Miss Rebels

Mississippi State v Mississippi Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

I’m straight up not on the Ole Miss hype train. Or Shea Patterson for that matter. Over a three game span, Patterson threw for 880 yards, 6 TDs to 3 INTs, Ole Miss went 1-2 including a blowout against Mississippi State, and they averaged 22 points. That isn't very good whatsoever.

In July of this year, Hugh Freeze resigned amongst allegations for calling a escort service with a school phone. This, along with other scandals over the last couple of years, means Ole Miss has been handling their fair share of news. Maybe this defense will be able to return to being very good when Nkemdiche and co. were there, or not. Who honestly knows? It’s Ole Miss.

11. Kentucky Wildcats

TaxSlayer Bowl - Georgia Tech v Kentucky Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

A very similar team to Vandy last year, Kentucky went bowling for the first time under coach Mark Stoops. With victories over South Carolina, Louisville, Mississippi State, and almost beating Georgia, Kentucky had a strong season compared to their usual standards at 7-6.

With JUCO transfer Stephen Johnson seeming to be Stoops’ answer for the Wildcats at QB, it isn't going to be an easy job to replace the 1 out of the 1-2 punch of Stanley Williams and Benny Snell. As far as defense goes, the Wildcats haven't ranked higher than 11th in the SEC since Stoops took over as head coach. That stat is going to have to improve. Kentucky will most likely be going bowling again this year.

10. Texas A&M Aggies

LSU v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The picture above pretty much represents how A&M’s season went last year. Starting out 6-0, the Aggies would finish the season at a mere 8-5. Trevor Knight went down against Mississippi State, and the Aggies would go 0-3 without Knight in the games. When he returned, he simply wasn't the same and suffered a big loss to LSU and a bowl game loss to Kansas State.

Knight graduated and this leaves about 1000 questions at the QB position for Texas A&M. Not only Myles Garrett, who was the No. 1 selection in the NFL Draft, but fellow pass rusher Daeshon Hall is gone, too. There are a lot of question marks for the Aggies. This, along with the pressure on Kevin Sumlin to do well this season, sets up A&M for a poor season.

9. Tennessee Volunteers

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - Nebraska v Tennessee Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Look, number nine is about as generous as I can get for ranking Tennessee. They've lost their top three players in Josh Dobbs, Alvin Kamara, and Derek Barnett. That is going to be a group of players that is going to be close to impossible to replace this year.

Over the last couple of years, Tennessee, Butch Jones, and Josh Dobbs failed to have a breakout year and win the East. It doesn't look like it’s going to happen this year either. There were a lot of injuries on defense last year and that could contribute to their poor performance, but they're going to have to replace four starters and that is going to be tough.

There are too many unknowns about Tennessee to feel confident enough about them to give them a solid chance at the East. However, there is still a lot of talent for the Volunteers and the division just isn't that crazily tough. Butch Jones is very much on the hot seat, and the pressure is on him for this season.

8. Mississippi State Bulldogs

St Petersburg Bowl - Mississippi State v Miami Ohio Photo by Joseph Garnett, Jr. /Getty Images

The one and only reason the Bulldogs are at number eight on my power rankings is Nick Fitzgerald. Replacing Dak Prescott is anything but easy, so you have to give Fitzgerald credit for that. MSU didn't have the season that they wanted last year by any means, and Dan Mullen and co. still have many on field questions.

Replacing stars in Fred Ross and Ritchie Brown is going to be tough. The West is unforgiving. There were a lot of younger guys playing for State last year, so playing and having that experience as a freshman is a good thing. With a very good QB in Nick Fitzgerald, the ceiling is the roof for MSU.

7. Arkansas Razorbacks

Belk Bowl - Arkansas v Virginia Tech Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

I’ve always been a person who believes in 99.9% of cases that to have a good football team you have to have a good QB. The ability to affect a QB’s play and the ability of a QB to play unaffected is how games are won. Austin Allen is one of the guys who I believe gives Arkansas a chance to have a very good year.

Bret Bielema seems to be one of the coaches who is always on the hot seat. Two second half collapses against Missouri and Virginia Tech is going to have a lot of questions for this year. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith left Arkansas for the same position at Minnesota.

The Razorbacks should be able to have a good season with Austin Allen taking the snaps and good RBs in Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley. If the defense can rebound, expect a 8-9 win season for the Razorbacks.

6. Florida Gators

Outback Bowl - Florida v Iowa Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Florida Gators repeated winning the East the last two years with teams that were basically Will Mushcamp’s. They're losing superstar players on defense in Quincy Wilson, Teez Tabor, Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis. If they don't take a huge hit in defensive production, I will be tremendously surprised.

Again, I VALUE QB play very highly. Florida hasn't had an above average signal caller since freaking Tim Tebow. This year won't be any different. Luke Del Rio seems to be the starter, and backups Feleipe Franks or Kyle Trask need to live up to their hype so the Gators could have a chance if Del Rio gets dethroned.

Florida’s schedule seems to be unforgiving with two out of conference games in Michigan and Florida State, two teams who will very much be in the playoff race. That, combined with the talent lost on defense and the questions at QB, doesn't give me a lot of confidence in them. They still have a very good chance for the SEC East.

5. South Carolina Gamecocks

NCAA Football: Birmingham Bowl-South Florida vs South Carolina Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, putting USC at five may come off a little biased, mainly because it is. Even though they were 6-7 last year, South Carolina had a lot of close games. If Jake Bentley starts the season at QB, Carolina probably beats Kentucky and plays MSU a helluva lot better. A two game swing because of one guy shows how talented he is.

With very talented and established players in Jake Bentley, Rico Dowdle, Hayden Hurst, and Deebo Samuel, the Cocks are posed for a very good year on offense. As far as defense goes, Muschamp is known for his hard nosed defense and you could tell the difference from last year compared to the two years before that. There are ball hawking DBs on the backend, but there are a lot of questions as to where the pass rush is going to come from. Hopefully, DJ Wonnum and the other younger guys can step up and have big years.

4. Georgia Bulldogs

NCAA Football: Georgia Spring Game Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia is pretty much everyone’s favorite to win the East, and it isn't for no reason.

Jacob Eason didn't really have the year everyone expected, but having the tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb in the backfield helped him tremendously. The Bulldogs have about the same hype train that Tennessee had last year, and we’re going to find out if they fold in half like the Volunteers or not.

Defensively, the Bulldogs are young on the line. However, the unit should be better in its second year under Mel Tucker, especially with an infusion of all that talent. Kirby Smart is bringing in very good classes to build talent for future success. I doubt the Bulldogs will be national title contenders for a couple of years, but the talent is there for a strong run in the East.

3. Auburn Tigers

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Auburn vs Oklahoma Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

If you watched the spring game, you would know Jarrett Stidham is going to handle the passing attack for the War Eagles very well. With running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson returning along with a bunch of defensive talent under surprising first-year coordinator Kevin Steele, the Tigers have a lot of quality players for their defense.

On paper, the Tigers don't seem to be as good as Alabama. But if they can keep up with the Tide until the rivalry game, anything can happen. See the kick return for a touchdown a couple years ago. Auburn made it to the Sugar Bowl last year with a somewhat depleted team due to injuries, and if they can keep it together all year, 2017 could be their year.

2. LSU Tigers

NCAA Football: Louisiana State Spring Game Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Am I the only one who only remembers Ed Orgeron as the guy from Ole Miss who recruited Michael Oher? No? Anyway, he was tabbed as the man to replace Les Miles. That isn't going to the easiest job to do, but Oregon seems to be doing a pretty good job so far. He went 6-2 last year, with close loses to Florida and Alabama as his only hiccups.

LSU won't miss a beat with Derrius Guice taking over for Leonard Fournette, and is returning a serviceable QB in Danny Etling. The Tigers are one of the few schools to find constant success without good QB play. Defensively, LSU lost a ton. Jamal Adams, Davon Godchaux, Kendall Beckwith, Duke Riley, and four others departed for the NFL a year ago, and replacing that is going to be extremely difficult.

If the offense can win a few games for them, LSU is going to be a very serious contender in the West. If the defense can hold up like last year, they're going to be a very dangerous team. Expect a 10+ win year for the Tigers.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

They’re just Alabama. They have “threats” in Auburn and LSU, but let’s be realistic. Sure, they lost a lot on defense, but they replace it every year. Jalen Hurts is just gonna be better. If Bo Scarborough doesn't go down in the National Championship, they probably win the thing. Not too much else I need to say.