While preparing for this predictions column, a thought kept crossing my mind about how much better the SEC West should be than the SEC East.
The top four picks in the West probably could win the East.
Here are the picks:
- Alabama The Crimson Tide are the reason most of the country dislikes the SEC. The last time the Crimson Tide lost a bowl game, the only corona anyone knew about was a Mexican beer. Nick Saban may be 5-6 tall, but he's the biggest college football coach in America.
- Texas A&M If not for Saban, the Aggies would be the pick to win the West and the SEC championship. When Saban was picked against in the past 10 years, he won a national championship. The Aggies' only loss last year was 52-24 to the Tide. The team's only real question mark is at quarterback.
- LSU With 18 starters back, Ed Orgeron better win 10 games or he may find himself talking a lot about the 2019 national championship. That works for a year, sometimes two. After that in a state ranked No. 2 per capita for producing NFL players, you need to beat Alabama.
- Ole Miss The Rebels won four of their last five in 2020, and they should have beaten LSU in Death Valley. Lane Kiffin has 17 starters back. Everyone knows they need to play better defense. Kiffin, a great offensive mind, will have his unit scoring.
- Arkansas In one season, Sam Pittman created confidence, camaraderie and a keen desire to play hard. They won't be the most talented team in the SEC, but the Razorbacks will play hard and find a way to win enough to show improvement.
- Auburn First-year Coach Bryan Harsin knows football, but does he know SEC football, which just means more? In addition to playing all the West Division schools (including on the road at LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M), he gets Penn State. Honeymoons on The Plains tend to be short.
- Mississippi State Mike Leach knows how to light up a scoreboard, but has he learned about defensive speed in the SEC?
- Georgia Kirby Smart is 52-14 in five seasons at Georgia, but this may be his most challenging one yet. His defense, which returns just five starters, has more holes than a fishing net.
- Florida Dan Mullen has only 10 starters back from a good team that finished 8-4. Lots of work to be done.
- Missouri Eli Drinkwitz had a proper baptism into the SEC last season. He had wins over LSU and Kentucky, but he was beaten badly in the final two games, 49-14 by Georgia and 51-32 by Mississippi State.
- Kentucky After eight seasons, Mark Stoops is finally off the hot seat. The question is can he stay away from it with only 12 returning starters. The Wildcats have a favorable schedule and are in the easier division.
- Tennessee New Coach Josh Heupel has said he will call the offensive plays like he did at Central Florida, where he was 28-8 in three seasons. He needs a few tricks up his sleeve as the Vols return just five on offense and seven on defense.
- South Carolina This is Shane Beamer's first job as a head coach, and while he inherits 14 returning starters, they are from a team that went 2-8 last season. The Gamecocks' only wins were against Vanderbilt and Auburn.
- Vanderbilt New Coach Clark Lea's claim to fame is he was a walk-on fullback for the Commodores after spending his freshman season playing baseball at Birmingham Southern and his sophomore year at Belmont. His extensive background is in coaching defense. Vanderbilt is the toughest football job in the SEC.