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Deke Bellavia

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Deke: Pre-season SEC rankings

In three weeks the 2014 CFB season will be underway.  Every week I'll give you my top ten teams in the nation--NFL Top 10 and SEC Top 10.  As a preview - here's how I rank SEC teams going into the season.
1.  Alabama Crimson Tide - The Tide have to find a QB, but that's about all they have to do.  Ala-BAMA is loaded on both sides of the football.  Three play-making WR's are back, three big time RB's are in the backfield and the Bama defense has a lot of future NFL top flight draft picks who are about to rise up the draft boards.  Alabama is still the cream of the crop in the SEC.
2.  Auburn Tigers - QB Nick Marshall is back; the Tigers are set on offense; and I expect the Auburn to be a little better on defense.  Could the SEC Title and national spot in the four team playoff be settled in late November in the Iron Bowl?  YES!
3.  South Carolina Gamecocks - Remember when the rest of the SEC hated the “ole ball coach” when he dominated everyone down in Gainesville?  How things have changed.  If the Gamecocks get to ATL and take on Alabama, I suspect a lot, if not the overwhelming majority, will become fans of SC.  In what looks to be a hard to predict Eastern Division, the Gamecocks have to be the favorite, don't they?
4.  LSU Tigers - You could argue that Georgia or Ole Miss should be here, but I'll go with the team that has the better O-line.  A win over Wisconsin should give LSU a 5-0 start and a top 8 ranking, before they hit the road to face Auburn and Florida in back to back weeks in early October.  Old school fans will love to watch this team; the Tigers will run, run, run with a good stable of RB's.  New school young pups will call it boring.  Les Miles calls it winning!  Don't be madder at the Hatter! 
5.  Georgia Bulldogs - With RB's Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall back, the Dogs will be okay.  UGA has a brutal start to their schedule, facing Clemson and South Carolina in the first few weeks.  Win those two, and the barking dogs between the hedges will be heard around the country.  People who know CFB feel me.  Those who don't are completely lost right now!  
6.  Florida Gators - Will Muschamp's seat is as hot as the sandy beaches in sunny South, Florida.  How can a man know so much about defense and know so little about offense.  I mean, if he knows how to stop one…can't he find someone to run his?  The Gators will be among the nation's elite defensive teams again, but can they score 20 points per game on offense?  If they do, look out! 
7.  Ole Miss Rebels - With QB Bo Wallace back and the SEC's best young WR Laquon Treadwell, these Rebels could be special.  And if the boys from Oxford could somehow be 4-0, when Alabama comes to town…the brown water, bow ties and beauties will be on full display that day in the Grove.  Man, I'd love to be there if that happens.  Who knows, maybe I'll win the lottery and show up!  Hotty Toddy, baby! 
8.  Missouri Tigers - QB Matty Mauck could be the league's best QB by season's end.  Remember, Mauck was forced into the limelight last season and did a damn good job, when James Franklin went down.  After what Missouri and Coach Gary Pinkel accomplished last year, nothing would shock me.  Well…maybe! 
9.  Mississippi State Bulldogs - Okay, Dan Mullen changed the jerseys to read “hail state.”  MSU has been to four straight bowl games, but is this the season MSU does something special?  This program is in dire need of a marquee win.  What better way to get it than on the road in late September against LSU?  QB Dak Prescott is real good and the Bulldogs defense has a chance to be a lot better. 
10.  Texas A&M Aggies - No more Johnny, but the Aggies cupboard is not bare.  A&M will find some players to make plays.  And their defense can't be as bad.  Coach Kevin Sumlin has proven in past seasons he's one of the best offensive strategists in the game today.  Don't be surprised, if the Aggies do alright. 
11. Tennessee Volunteers - Coach Butch Jones served notice last season that the Vols are on the rise.  Now Jones is suddenly stockpiling the recruits.  If you are looking for some SEC stock to buy at a good price, buy some UT stock.  I did! 
12.  Vanderbilt Commodores - New Coach Derek Mason inherits a Vandy program that has been quite impressive lately.  The Doors need a good start.  4-1 after the first five games would be super, 3-2 is ideal.  I think Vanderbilt can get back to a bowl again. 
13.  Arkansas Razorbacks - Coach Brett Bielema is a winner and he's not used to losing.  Well, he didn't lose at Wisconsin.  Arkansas has a good core of RB's in Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, but is that enough to get the Hogs to a bowl?  Say what you want about former Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino, but he did raise expectations for the Hogs program.  Now Bielama has to bring them back up! 
14. Kentucky Wildcats - Coach Mark Stoops and the Cats from Lexington took it on the chin just about every week last season.  To say Kentucky is going to be better this year is easy, simply because they don't have too far to climb.  Stoops brought in some JUCO talent to try and help him build things up.  My take - outside of four, maybe five wins is asking an awful lot of UK. 

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Locations : AlabamaArkansasFloridaGainesvilleGeorgiaKentuckyMississippiMissouriOxfordSouth CarolinaTennesseeWisconsin
People : Bobby PetrinoBrett BielemaButch JonesDan MullenDerek MasonGary PinkelJames FranklinJonathan WilliamsKeith MarshallKevin SumlinLes MilesMark StoopsMatty MauckNick MarshallTodd Gurley

08/11/2014 10:57AM
Deke: Pre-season SEC rankings
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