In & around SEC football

By Cole FrederickBy Cole Frederick

Best case, worst case scenarios for the 2014 season

Alabama 

Best Case. The offensive line becomes one of the most dominant in the country and the running back tandem of Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon dominates the SEC. Jacob Coker steps in at quarterback and is consistent throughout the year, while Lane Kiffin’s offense is explosive and balanced. Trey DePriest fills the void left by linebacker C.J. Mosely. The secondary, led by Landon Collins, grows up quickly. The kicking game drastically improves. Alabama finishes the season at 12-1 with a berth in the playoffs. 

Worst Case. Kiffin cannot find a way to utilize all the playmakers on the offensive roster and the offensive line can’t protect Coker. Defensively, the secondary is repeatedly exposed and can’t defend well against prolific passing offenses. The kicking game is weak yet again and Yeldon experiences fumb-ling woes. The Crimson Tide finishes 9-3 and tied for third in the SEC West. 

Arkansas 

Best Case. The Razorbacks make a drastic improvement in Coach Bret Bielema’s second season in Fayetteville. Led by ru-nning back Alex Collins, the Hogs upset two SEC West foes and win all four non-conference games to reach a bowl game. 

Worst Case. Arkansas’s lack of talent and depth lead to another disappointing 3-9 season. 

Auburn 

Best Case. The Tigers continue last year’s success in the SEC by starting 9-0. Nick Marshall is more accurate at quarterback, the running game is still dom-inant and the receiving duo of Sammie Coates and Duke Williams makes Auburn the most dangerous offense in college football. Ellis Johnson’s defense improves and the Tigers find more consistent play at linebacker. Auburn’s only loss is at Georgia in the 10th game of the year. The Tigers win another Iron Bowl en route to a 12-1 season and a berth in the playoffs. 

Worst Case. The running game suffers with the departures of Tre Mason and Greg Robinson. The defensive line isn’t as strong without Dee Ford, and the secondary is still susceptible to big plays. Auburn can’t overcome one of the toughest schedules in the country and finishes 8-4 overall and tied for fourth in the SEC West. 

Florida 

Best Case. The Gator offense is more dynamic under new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, quarterback Jeff Driskel has the best season of his career and the defense is the best in the conference. The Gators sneak into the SEC championship game at 9-3. 

Worst Case. An early season blowout loss at Alabama derails Florida and the Gators stumble to a 6-6 season. 

Georgia 

Best Case. Running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall remain healthy all season, quarterback Hutson Mason di-rects the best offense in the league and the defense improves under defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Georgia overcomes an early season loss to South Carolina and wins the SEC East. The Bulldogs finish 12-1 and make it to the playoffs. 

Worst Case. Gurley and Marshall can’t stay on the field, Mason turns the ball over too often and the defense still struggles. The Bulldogs finish the season 8-4.

Kentucky 

Best Case. Kentucky knocks off Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and avoids another last place finish in the SEC East. The Wildcats upset Louisville to reach a bowl game at 6-6. 

Worst Case. The Wildcats remain a bottom dweller in the East Division and finish 3-9 on the year. 

LSU 

Best Case. The Tigers win the SEC West behind a dominant running game and superior defense. Despite inexperience at quarterback, the Baton Rouge squad will be successful offensively thanks to a veteran offensive line. LSU overcomes a midseason loss at Auburn to win the SEC West and SEC championships and make the playoffs at 12-1. 

Worst Case. Quarterback play is inefficient, the offense is too one-dimensional and defensive depth becomes an issue halfway through the season. LSU stumbles to an 8-4 season. 

Mississippi State 

Best Case. Mississippi State’s defense is the best in the SEC and quarterback Dak Prescott is the most efficient quarterback in the league.The Bulldogs upset Auburn and finish the regular season with 10 wins for the first time since 1999. 

Worst Case. Despite one of the easiest schedules in the league, the Bulldogs lose winnable games in the middle of the season and finish 7-5. 

Missouri 

Best Case. The Tigers take advantage of a favorable schedule and finishes the season at 10-2 behind solid quarterback play from Maty Mauk. 

Worst Case. Missouri drops consecutive games to South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and are upset later in the year by Texas A&M and Tennessee. Mizzou finishes the year at 7-5. 

Ole Miss 

Best Case. The Rebel offensive line is better than expected and the running game is more consistent than a season ago. Quarterback Bo Wallace has the best touchdown to turnover ratio of his career and LaQuon Treadwell is the best receiver in the country. The defense is better than last year and Ole Miss fi-nishes the regular season at 10-2. 

Worst Case. Boise State knocks off Ole Miss to start the season and the Rebels fail to pull off a major upset against either Alabama, Auburn or LSU. A loss in the regular season finale to intra-state rival Mississippi State sends Ole Miss to a 7-5 record. 

South Carolina 

Best Case. Dylan Thom-pson’s experience at quarterback over the past two years pays off and running back Mike Davis leads the league in rushing. The Gamecocks take care of Georgia early in the season and win the SEC East at 11-1. Steve Spurrier wins his first SEC title at South Carolina and the Gamecocks represent the SEC in the playoffs. 

Worst Case. South Carolina’s misses Jadeveon Clowney’s presence on defense and the offense sputters without Connor Shaw. The Gamecocks lose the early season showdown against Georgia and lose games on the road to Auburn and Florida. A loss to Clemson to finish the year leaves South Carolina with a disappointing 8-4 season. 

Tennessee 

Best Case. The Volunteers end the season by defeating Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt to finish with a 7-5 record.

Worst Case. Utah State upsets Tennessee to start the season. The Vols fail to recover and end the season with a 4-8 record. 

Texas A&M 

Best Case. The defense is much better than the last two seasons and the Aggies remain competitive in the toughest division in football. An upset over Ole Miss in the middle of the year catapults A&M to another 8-4 regular season. 

Worst Case. The absence of Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans proves to too much for Texas A&M to overcome. The Aggies end the season with a 5-7 record. 

Vanderbilt 

Best Case. The transition from James Franklin to Derek Mason works out well and the Commodores win seven games in Mason’s first season as head coach. 

Worst Case. Mason isn’t ready to coach on such a big stage just yet. Vanderbilt fails to reach a bowl game at 5-7. 

 
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