2013 College Football Preview: SEC

Can AJ McCarron lead the Alabama Crimson Tide to a fourth national championship in the past five years?

Can AJ McCarron lead the Alabama Crimson Tide to a fourth national championship in the past five years?

In the past seven years, the SEC has been synonymous with success in the Bowl Championship Series. The last seven BCS National Champions (Alabama x3, Florida x2, LSU, Auburn) have come from the SEC, meaning that the SEC Champion will likely make the BCS National Championship Game this year. This year, five SEC teams are ranked in the preseason top 10 in the AP Poll (#1 Alabama, #5 Georgia, #6 South Carolina, #7 Texas A&M, and #10 Florida), and the SEC is once again loaded with top talent.

Each division of the SEC has three top 15-teams this season that could contend for a conference title. In the SEC West, Texas A&M and LSU will look to knock off two time defending BCS Champion Alabama. The SEC East features three top-10 teams in Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia, each with a great shot to win their division.

MAKING THE CASE

#12 LSU: The Tigers get a big game right off the bat as they face #20 TCU at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium in primetime on Saturday night. Good news? Last time LSU played in Dallas, they went 13-0 and reached the BCS National Championship Game. Bad News? The Tigers still have tough games at Georgia and Alabama and at home against Florida and A&M. First year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will help, but the Tigers need a bit of luck to make it to Atlanta.

#10 Florida: Florida returns veteran QB Jeff Driskel to a team that won 11 games last season and was ranked #9 in the final AP Poll. The Gators are good, and their schedule is pretty favorable. Florida has a chance to knock off South Carolina in Columbia, but the annual matchup with Georgia (The World’s Largest Cocktail Party) might hurt the Gators’ title hopes.

#7 Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel probably broke NCAA rules and is only being suspended for the first half of the Aggies’ first game against Rice. Controversial? Yes, but I must remain objective. But their schedule is a JOKE. They play Alabama at Kyle Field and only real road challenge is at LSU in November. The winner of the A&M-Alabama Game will probably win the division, but something tells me Nick Saban won’t let the Aggies win.

#6 South Carolina: Jadeveon Clowney. Need I say more? Simply enough though, South Carolina needs to beat Georgia on the road in week 2 to prove they belong in the creme de la creme of the SEC. They also have interesting home games against North Carolina (tonight, 6:00, ESPN) and Clemson in their final game.

#5 Georgia: Aaron Murray led the Bulldogs to the 3 yard line in last year’s SEC Championship Game against Alabama. Had Georgia advanced the ball a mere nine feet more, we might be talking about how great Georgia is and not an Alabama dynasty. Aaron Murray is the real deal, and will contend for a Heisman Trophy in 2013. They might lose their opener at Clemson, but they should beat South Carolina at home and reach the SEC Championship Game.

#1 Alabama: Nobody can argue with three national championships in the past four years. Alabama is the best college football dynasty of the past ten years, and they will prove why this season. Nick Saban is a great leader, and much like the Tide got revenge on LSU in 2011 for beating them at home earlier in the season, the Tide will beat A&M in 2013. Alabama will roll (tide) into the SEC Championship Game.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION

In the West, it’s going to be Alabama. In the East, though, the race is much more wide open. The Gators, Gamecocks, and Bulldogs all have a legitimate threat to win the SEC East division title. Of the three schools, Georgia has the most favorable schedule (they don’t play Florida or South Carolina at their respective stadiums), and the Bulldogs and QB Aaron Murray should set up a rematch of the 2012 SEC Championship. Except this year, I predict Georgia to upset the Crimson Tide and reach the BCS National Championship Game.

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