SEC Football Predictions – 2013 Season


The SEC has taken home each of the last seven national championships, and with Alabama leading the way don’t be surprised if the SEC makes it seven straight. The SEC West is the best division in college football, but the East has a few teams capable of a BCS run as well. Check our predictions below.

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East

  • 1. Georgia 10-2 (6-2): The ‘Dogs may need to rely on the offense more than ever this year, and luckily it should be more than up to the task. QB Aaron Murray should own the major SEC passing records by the end of the year, and there may not be a better RB tandem in the nation than Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who are both just sophomores. The line is also back in full force, though it will need to improve if the offense is to reach new heights. The defense may take awhile to come around; Georgia must replace SEVEN players that were selected in this year’s NFL draft. Unfortunately, the schedule won’t give the Bulldogs any time to settle in on defense: the first two games are against Clemson’s high powered offense and SEC east rival South Carolina, and LSU comes to town for game four. The defense will almost surely end up as a strong unit, the only question is how big of a hole Georgia will be in after the early part of the schedule.
  • 2. South Carolina 9-3 (6-2): The Gamecocks will feature a pair of quarterbacks this season and will need both to improve their play to help offset the loss of RB Marcus Lattimore and WR Ace Sanders. WR Bruce Ellington appears ready to fill the void left by Sanders, and there are several other receivers looking to step up this fall. RB Mike Davis will get the first crack to replace Lattimore, but it will likely take a group effort make the offense go. You already know about DE Jadeveon Clowney, but the secondary is a strong group as well. LB is a bit of a mystery as all three starters must be replaced. South Carolina misses the Big Three from the West (Alabama, A&M and LSU) so the schedule aligns nicely for a run at a division championship. An early season matchup with Georgia will go a long way in deciding the East.
  • 3. Florida 8-4 (5-3): The Gators have a strong backfield with QB Jeff Driskel and a pair of backs with big potential. However, there are virtually no known receivers beyond Quinton Dunbar, which will make it tough for Florida to establish a reliable passing attack. The line should be solid, but Driskel will need some receivers to emerge to take some pressure off of the running game. The defense was a top-5 unit last season but has been gutted. There is talent all over on that side of the ball, but few players that have shown they can produce. The Gators avoid both Alabama and Texas A&M and could be in the mix for the East crown, but there are a lot of uncertainties in Gainesville this season.
  • 4. Tennessee 7-5 (4-4): The Vols boast a top-tier offensive line, a pair of capable backs and a bunch of unproven players at QB and WR, yet new coach Butch Jones will go to a fast-paced, spread attack. The running game should be solid, but anticipated starting QB Justin Worley will need to work with a young WR group to establish some chemistry in the passing game. Despite being awful last season, we see potential on the defense in 2013. DT Daniel McCullers is a wall on the line, and A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt form an underrated pair of linebackers. The Vols will very likely start a tough conference schedule 0-4, but they should recover for a solid November on the road to bowl eligibility.
  • 5. Vanderbilt 7-5 (3-5): Vandy must replace its starting QB and the school’s all-time leading rusher, but the tools are there to do so with WRs Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd and a solid offensive line. QB Austyn Carta-Samuels looks to replace Jordan Rodgers and showed some promise at Wyoming, but this is the SEC; it may be a tough year on offense if Samuels can’t get his playmakers the ball with consistency. The defense has quietly become one of the conference’s most underrated units and that trend could continue in 2013 with a strong secondary and LB Chase Garnham leading the way. A soft non-conference slate should help pave the way for another bowl game, but duplicate of last season’s nine wins will be tough with a new backfield and unproven defensive line.
  • 6. Missouri 6-6 (2-6): The return of injured RB Henry Josey should infuse some much-needed life into the Tiger offense, which also features potential breakout star WR Dorial Green-Beckham and QB James Franklin (if he can secure the job and return to his 2011 form). That trio could help Missouri drastically improve on its 96th ranked offense from a year ago. The defense will miss tackle Sheldon Richardson and two leaders at LB, but DE Michael Sam, LB Andrew Wilson and CB E.J. Gaines will serve as reliable players with the potential for all-conference seasons. The goal should be a bowl game, and a soft non-conference schedule may make that goal a reality.
  • 7. Kentucky 4-8 (1-7): New coach Mark Stoops will be tested in his first season in Kentucky: the Wildcats just don’t have the talent to compete in the tough SEC. QB Jalen Whitlow has a chance to shine in the Air Raid offense and there is a stable of decent backs, but the offense doesn’t have the horses to move the ball consistently against the league’s premier defenses. The defensive line should be solid and LB Avery Williams was a tackle machine a year ago, but the secondary has holes and the defense as a whole may have a ceiling in the middle of the conference. Expect Stoops to start to turn the Wildcats around, just not this season.

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West

  • 1. Alabama 12-0 (8-0): The Tide have won three of the last four National Championships and are the early favorite to win it all again this season. On offense, the defending champs return the nation’s most efficient passer, perhaps the most talented WRs in the conference, and another future NFL back in T.J. Yeldon. ‘Bama must replace several starters on the line, but LT Cyrus Kouandjio is a future first-round pick, and when have the Tide NOT had a great line under Saban? The nation’s top defense a year ago is again loaded at linebacker and will feature plenty of talent on a re-built line and in the secondary. After opening with Virginia Tech and travelling to Texas A&M in week three, the Tide will be on cruise control until a November meeting with LSU. With as much as Alabama returns from a National Championship team and as easy as the schedule is, it’s almost unfair to the rest of the country.
  • 2. Texas A&M 10-2 (6-2): In its first season in the SEC, Texas A&M toppled the eventual National Champion and rode the Heisman Winner and record-setting offense to 11 wins. So what do the Aggies do for an encore? QB Johnny Manziel is back to lead the explosive offense, and the biggest task for the sophomore may be just avoiding a sophomore slump after opposing defenses have had an entire offseason to prepare for him. RBs Ben Malena and Trey Williams, WR Mike Evans and one of the top lines in the conference will all ensure Manziel doesn’t need to do it by himself. The thing that may keep the Aggies from challenging Alabama for the conference crown is the defense, which must replace a pair of stars now in the NFL. However, the secondary is experienced and if several key players up front can bounce back from injuries, the defense should again be sufficient.
  • 3. LSU 9-3 (5-3): No team was ravaged by early departures to the NFL like the LSU Tigers. The offense should still be in good hands with returning QB Zach Mettenberger, an always-loaded stable of backs and some talented players returning at WR. Departed center P.J. Lonergan was the anchor of the line, but otherwise the Tigers are in good shape up front. The defense was hit the hardest by the NFL exodus, and the Tigers will need some young players to step up in a hurry. As usual though, LSU is stacked with talent on defense, it’s just a matter of if that talent is ready to step up and dominate like former LSU defenses. You can never count LSU out, but we think the Tigers are just a notch below the Tide and Aggies this season.
  • 4. Ole Miss 7-5 (4-4): The Rebels made big strides on offense in 2012 and appear primed to continue the upward trend this fall. Bo Wallace is a scary dual-threat QB and just needs to cut down his interceptions to emerge as one of the premier players in the conference. WR Donte Moncrief is Wallace’s top target and is another potential all-conference player. RB Jeff Scott will run behind a solid offensive line and has a shot at 1,000 yards. The defense, although a bit more uncertain than the offense, has the potential to be quite good. LB Denzel Nkemdiche is the returning leader and will have plenty of experience around him, but if oft-injured LB D.T. Shackelford and freshman DE Robert Nkemdiche (the nation’s top recruit) can break out, the Rebels’ defense could be nasty. Ole Miss will hit a brutal five-game gauntlet early on – @ Texas, @ Alabama, @ Auburn, Texas A&M, LSU – but should rebound in the second half of the year for a nice season.
  • 5. Mississippi State 6-6 (3-5): MSU’s offense, which returns QB Tyler Russell, RB LeDarius Perkins and an experienced line, has just one weakness: WR. Perkins is the leading returning receiver with 19 catches a year ago. Russell and Perkins form an excellent combo in the backfield, but Russell will need some receivers to step up and become reliable threats for the passing game to excel. DE Denico Autry appears primed for a breakout season on defense, and LB Benardrick McKinney and safety Nickoe Whitley provide a pair of reliable playmakers in the back seven. However, the defense will feature a new approach and at least six new starters, which will make it tough to hang with the elite teams in the division. The Bulldogs should be able to muster a fourth consecutive bowl behind the experienced offense, but that may be the ceiling for MSU in 2013.
  • 6. Auburn 6-6 (2-6): The focus at Auburn early in the season will be the quarterback battle, but the real stars of the offense may end up being the running backs. Tre Mason cracked 1,000 yards last season and will be joined by JUCO transfer Cameron Artis-Payne to form a potent 1-2 punch. Both backs will need to be ready for action as the offense lacks a playmaking wideout or established QB. The defense is shifting to a 4-2-5 and should be able to get more speed on the field in an effort to slow down the SEC offenses. The back end of the schedule is loaded, so if the Tigers hope to make a bowl game they will need to do their damage early in the season against a soft non-conference slate.
  • 7. Arkansas 4-8 (1-7): New coach Bret Bielema is bringing a new style of football to Fayetteville, and there may be some growing pains in 2013. Bielema will have to go to work without a trio of former offensive stars: QB Tyler Wilson, RB Knile Davis and WR Cobi Hamilton. With those three gone, there isn’t much for established players on that side of the ball. The defense returns more experience than the offense but was not very effective in 2013. The inexperienced offense, lack of big-time talent on defense, and tough conference schedule will likely lead to a rough year for the Razorbacks.

Let’s hear your predictions in the comments!

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