The SEC has been the premier conference in college football and this year will be no different. Alabama, Georgia, and Texas A&M will all be preseason top 10 teams and clear candidates for the College Football Playoffs. The depth of the conference continues to be strong with Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, and Auburn as likely top 25 teams. But, how will it all unfold? Now, let’s unveil our 2021 SEC standings predictions.
Things are pointing up for the Razorbacks, but they have the ill fortune of playing in the SEC West which is the toughest division of college football. However, they were better on both sides of the ball in Sam Pittman’s first year in Fayetteville. They have a chance to get to five wins this season but they will not make a bowl just yet.
6. Mississippi State
2020 was a strange year in Starkville as Mississippi State scored 44 points against LSU in the opener but only scored a total of 30 points combined in their next four games. They improved late in the season and seemed to have found their man at quarterback in Will Rogers. Look for the Bulldogs to be more consistent on offense and with a middle-of-the-pack SEC defense will get back to a bowl game.
5. Ole Miss
The Rebels have the third-best offense in the SEC behind Alabama and Georgia. Matt Corral flourished in his first year under Lane Kiffin and eight starters return. However, the question remains as to whether they can stop anyone. Nine starters returns, however, they did give us over 38 points each game. They should win four of their first five and should get back to a bowl game.
Tiger fans keep waiting for Bo Nix to come around. In his third year in the program and with new head coach Bryan Harsin will this be the year? If the Tigers can win in Happy Valley, they should start the season 4-0. But, trips to LSU and Texas A&M along with hosting Alabama and Georgia could have the Tigers staring at a 7-5 or 8-4 season.
This year’s version of LSU should resemble what we are accustomed to from the Tigers. Myles Brennan should return as the starting quarterback and was putting up tremendous numbers until he got hurt. LSU hosts Auburn, Florida, and Texas A&M while traveling to Alabama and Ole Miss. If the defense improves over the 35 points given up per game they could be a double-digit win team in 2021.
2. Texas A&M
Jimbo Fisher has turned Texas A&M into a national title contender in his fourth season in Aggieland. They must retool their offensive line with only one starter returning and break in Hayes King as the likely new quarterback. However, they are loaded everywhere else and have one of the best defenses in the country. They should be 5-0 before Alabama comes to College Station on October 9th. Can they slay the giants?
Losing eight starters on a historically good defense will be a problem even at Alabama. Mac Jones, Najee Harris, and Devonta Smith all finished in the top five of the Heisman with Smith winning it and none of them return. Bryce Young has the task of replacing Jones and has very little experience. Having said that, the Crimson Tide may rely on their defense early on in the season which will be the best in the SEC. But, Alabama will still be the preseason number one and the favorites to win another National Championship.
Vanderbilt had a nightmare season in 2020 as they went 0-9 and fired head coach Derrick Mason. Clark Lea comes in with a rebuild on his hands as the Commodores are the least talented team in the SEC. With home games against East Tennessee State and Connecticut, Vanderbilt should get a could of wins but will not avoid the basement.
6. South Carolina
Shane Beamer brings some much-needed excitement and enthusiasm to Columbia to invigorate the program. The defense must be retooled as they only return six starters from a team that surrendered 36 points per game. We’ll call for the Gamecocks to double their win total at least in Beamer’s first year with the program headed in the right direction.
It’s not often you could say a team is in a rebuilding mode, but also has the opportunity to get to a bowl game. But, that’s exactly what the Vols have in Josh Heupel’s first year at the helm. They should start 2-1 at worst and should be favored in five games this year. One would assume that Tennessee will improve upon their 22 points per game last year under an offensive-minded head coach.
Will Levis should bring an upgrade to the quarterback position in Lexington. But, Kentucky only has 12 returning starters which includes only five on defense. Looking at the schedule, Kentucky has the opportunity to get back to a bowl game especially with Louisiana Monroe, Chattanooga, and New Mexico State on the docket.
The trajectory for the Tigers is pointing up in Eliah Drinkwitz’s second year in the program. They have a budding superstar at quarterback in Connor Bazelak as he threw for over 2,300 yards in just eight games a year ago. Three fairly easy non-conference games should set the Tigers up for another bowl game this season.
Florida is the most difficult team in the country to get a handle on. Dan Mullen has alienated many within the program over the way he handled the Cotton Bowl last year and the lack of availability in the spring. They are the least experienced team in the league with only 10 returning starters. Emory Jones figures to replace Kyle Trask but the defense must improve. Nine wins feel like the right number this season for the Gators.
The Bulldogs might be the most talented team in the country in 2021. If JT Daniels can stay healthy, he’s the best quarterback in the SEC. The loss of George Pickens will be hard to overcome but there is plenty of depth there. Pledges from Arik Gilbert and Derion Kendrick are huge. The only weakness could be replacing the losses in the secondary.
SEC Championship Game
Alabama vs Georgia
Georgia has had three opportunities over the last four years to dethrone the champions of the SEC and has been unable to do so. Can this year be the year? Meanwhile, Alabama has to take a step back on offense, don’t they? We’ll call for the upset here and the Bulldogs finally getting over the hump and winning the SEC Championship