SEC Football Season Preview
Football is finally back down South as the SEC begins play this upcoming weekend. Due to COVID-19, the conference will play a 10 game, conference-only schedule. The 2020 season will conclude on Saturday, Dec. 19 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The SEC has six teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP Top 25 and boasts two more on the list, tying the ACC for the most teams in the AP Poll, having seven respectively.
Let’s take a look at the top contenders in the SEC:
No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide have to be disappointed after last year’s season result of not making the SEC Championship game, a place they had been four times in the past six seasons. With the exit of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to the NFL, Alabama’s offense is not guaranteed to be as high powered as it has been in the past, but they're still poised to be the top dog in the SEC-West.
Other key losses include tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., as well as wide receivers Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy. But with players like junior quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris and wide receiver DeVonta Smith, their offense is set to bounce back and make a statement.
With much of Alabama’s defense set to return this year, you can expect them to be as solid and commanding as ever.
No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs
Coming off of their third straight SEC championship appearance, the Bulldogs are hoping to make it there again under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
With presumptive starting quarterback Jamie Newman opting out of the season, redshirt-freshman D’Wan Mathis is their starter for Week 1 against Arkansas. He was the third string quarterback throughout the summer, but is now expected to pick up where Jake Fromm left off. A backfield with Zamir White and James Cook will certainly help as well.
While only losing linebacker Tae Crowder to the NFL, their defense is going to be a strong unit also. Ranked as the third best defense in the nation last year, their returning linebacking corps will be their anchor defensively. Look for a repeat performance from their run defense, one of the best in the country.
No. 5 Florida Gators
Maybe the best team in the SEC-East, the Gators are definite division title contenders. Led by head coach Dan Mullen and breakout quarterback Kyle Trask, the defending Orange Bowl champions are looking to continue the success that they had last year.
Florida’s offense is helmed by Trask and two senior wide receivers in Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes. They will be the foundation of this offense and their ability to make plays will ultimately decide how the season goes for them.
Key losses on defense include leading tackler David Reese II, sack leader Jonathan Greenard and cornerback C.J. Henderson. Their departures leave big gaps to fill. With a plethora of young players getting the nod at starting positions this year for the Gators, only time will tell how this Gators defense pans out, but all signs are pointing towards a huge season.
No. 6 LSU Tigers
The Bayou Bengals come into 2020 after playing arguably the best season any college football team has ever had and getting a national championship ring to show for it. However, this season should be much different for them and head coach Ed Orgeron is going to have his hands full trying to lead this team to another SEC title.
They lost almost all of their key players to the NFL, most notably Heisman winner Joe Burrow. They also lost their defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and the man behind that amazing 2019 LSU offense, Joe Brady.
Key players for this 2020 season include freshman tight end Arik Gilbert and returning sophomore Derek Stingley Jr., who is the best lockdown corner in the nation.
No. 8 Auburn Tigers
Auburn was a surprise team last year almost all because of sophomore standout quarterback Bo Nix. Despite losing to all three top 10 opponents they faced, there were glimmers of greatness when the Tigers took down both Oregon and Alabama.
With the loss of their entire offensive line being the largest problem, Nix will have to show his true scrambling ability. He has the weapons for an air attack with the best receiving corps in the SEC consisting of Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz.
Not much else has changed for Auburn coming into this year, except the expectations. After performing well last year and LSU being a question mark this year, it seems like their chance to break through to the SEC championship.
Charlie Murray is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism.To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.