By: Nate Murphy (@bigmurph23)
We have made it to our final stop on the conference road trip. Sure, these are based on pure gut instinct and complete BS. But hey, maybe I’m right. Only time will tell.
The SEC is an interesting conference. It brings back two former programs into the fold. One with some historical success and one with some all-time failures. But what’s to say will things go the same way this time? Practice your accents, we’re heading south.
The LSU Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers bring their programs back in Season 19 under some new leadership. We know the historical losing streak that the Vols were on when they folded last time around. The question is when does that streak end? LSU on the other hand gets an AD coming over in the offseason looking to defend his title. We will have a better understanding of how good these two will be after recruiting. But I think LSU will give themselves a great chance to push the top teams in the conference. Tennessee has some proving left to do.
After three full articles and the start of a fourth, it may be time for a cocktail. Or at the very least let’s talk about the teams involved in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Florida and Georgia were two teams who went up and down last season. Georgia was the last team to get in the playoffs. That didn’t stop them from making a great run before finally getting bounced just short of the ultimate prize. The one thing we know for sure about the Team Spirit-winning locker room is it smells better in there after the departure of beloved Steven Eastridge (affectionately known as “stinky”). They lose some key seniors spread out over the rest of the roster as well. So how the new leader of the dawg pound fills those voids will go a long way in determining the success of UGA.
The Gators worked their way into the second round of the playoffs last season before being dispatched by Georgia. So can they respond in Season 19 with a deeper run? They lose enough to concern me. But their defense will be senior-heavy this season. So maybe the experience on that side of the ball is enough to carry them.
Auburn probably falls into this middle tier in the conference as well. They struggled to a 1-5 conference record last season. However, the one-two punch of Baker Thomas and Storm Odie are still there. This gives the offense a shot in any game. Can Auburn do enough to plug holes, build depth and get themselves over the hump?
Where does this leave us? With bluegrass and a crimson tide. Kentucky can say they are defending National Champions. Alabama can say they are defending SEC champions. And we will all get to enjoy watching them battle it out in what could be a defacto conference championship game. Alabama has to replace one of the greatest passers of all time. Luckily for them, they had a new quarterback appear when their new AD arrived. Avery Ware is a good quarterback and, if he can protect the football, Alabama could be on their way to another conference crown.
Kentucky lost their AD but got their old AD back. 14RDavis is back to run the ‘Cats again and has a lot to continue their success already in place. Short of a mass exodus in the transfer portal Kentucky loses very little. And that could spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E for the SEC.
Here is how I see the SEC shaking out: