1. Georgia, 12-0 (8-0) - I'm taking the Dawgs to run the table this year. In part because of their great schedule which avoids LSU, Alabama and Arkansas - and of course Mississippi State. But they also have a great team with future NFL stars littered all over their roster. Todd Grantham's defense is going to be stout, and the offense won't be too shabby either with Aaron Murray running the show. The toughest game of the year is @ South Carolina, which they have lost two straight to the Gamecocks, but I'm predicting that streak ends this fall.
2. South Carolina, 9-3 (6-2) - I really think last year's South Carolina team was better. If they had not lost to Auburn at home and Marcus Lattimore would have stayed healthy they could have been competitive in the SEC Championship Game and possibly gone on to the BCS Title Game. This year I think they lose too much talent on defense plus Ellis Johnson - and not having Alshon Jeffrey is going to sting. They are still a really good team though.
3. Florida, 9-3 (6-2) - The Gators are the biggest beneficiary of suspensions in my opinion. I've gone from picking them to go 7-5 to 9-3 because of LSU and Tennessee suspending major playmakers. Their defense should be so good they'll have a chance to win most games, and even though the offense looks less than mediocre they are Florida. But this is a two games better than last year - I'm counting on them heading to College Station in Week 2 and pushing A&M around.
4. Tennessee, 7-5 (3-5) - I had UT beating Florida but without Da'Rick Rogers I can't pull the trigger now. So I had Derek Dooley winning 8 and keeping his job, but I think he wins 7 and loses it. If they had retained their coaching staff I'd be more optimistic with 18 returning starters. If their offensive line can prove to be a good one Tyler Bray & Co. could still be great even without Rogers.
5. Vanderbilt, 7-5 (3-5) - You have to like what James Franklin is doing. Their defense does lose some star players and might not be as good, the offense might be better though. They have UK and Ole Miss on the schedule which is a plus, and I'm actually going to call for a home win vs. Auburn.
6. Missouri, 6-6 (2-6) - I just don't know how well their offense will do in the SEC. I think they have athletes and they will move the ball, but it won't be like it was in the Big 12. This would be a disappointing season for them but I just don't see room for more wins.
7. Kentucky, 3-9 (0-8) - They are no good. Joker gets canned.
1. Alabama, 12-0 (8-0) - Nick Saban will reload and it will all come down to November 3rd (which I now think they will win - I don't like picking them to go undefeated but I feel it's necessary. They could still lose at LSU though). They are just better than everyone else, and they have better coaching. The two possible stumbling blocks would be at Arkansas and at Tennessee.
2. LSU, 10-2 (6-2) - This is a great team, one that I had pegged to go undefeated before you know who got suspended. Without the Honey Badger I think it cost LSU two loses. He is such a game changer, not only on defense but special teams. I'm going to say Alabama and at Florida.
3. Arkansas, 9-3 (5-3) - Losing Petrino really stings, and they are bringing in new coordinators. They lose three top flight WRs and some solid defensive talent. This team will be good, but they can't compete for the West without Bobby P.
4. Mississippi State, 8-4 (4-4) - I made up my mind I was picking State at 8-4 after I wrote this. Since I always pick MSU to beat Auburn I switched that this year to hopefully reverse the luck. This is a solid team and if Tyler Russell can stay healthy and do well in the passing game, it will be a great year.
5. Auburn, 7-5 (3-5) - Gene Chizik is going in the opposite direction of what won him a national championship in 2010...more defense, less offense. There are more question marks here than probably any other team (maybe UT). How will the defense adjust to a new D.C.? Who will play QB and will they be any good?
6. Texas A&M, 5-7 (2-6) - I'm actually going to pick them to come out of the gates losing the opener at LA Tech (similar to another maroon team circa 2008) and then Florida. Even if they beat LA Tech I still don't think they make a bowl game because they play two FCS schools - so they need 7 wins to be eligible.
7. Ole Miss, 3-9 (0-8) - This is definite rebuilding. They have the toughest schedule and the worst team. But by the end of the year I expect them to look better than Kentucky.
SEC Champ: Georgia - I really think Mark Richt has it in him to win this thing.
Independence Bowl: Missouri
BBVA Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt
Liberty Bowl: Tennessee
Music City Bowl: Auburn
Gator Bowl: Mississippi State
Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Florida
Outback Bowl: South Carolina
Cotton Bowl: Arkansas
Capital One Bowl: LSU
Sugar Bowl: Alabama
BCS Title Game: Georgia vs. USC in the battle of teams with under 75 scholarships yet really really good national championship game. Georgia wins to make it seven straight for the SEC. While I'm out on a limb here, I say Richt retires to become a missionary...I think he has other goals in life, he'd like to go out on his own terms and I'm sure he's tired of the UGA fanbase always calling for his head.