Georgia is the two time reigning champion and will be looking to defend their title once again. Some of their biggest competition is likely to come from their own conference. Alabama is always a threat with Nick Saban at the helm while schools like LSU and Tennessee are rapidly improving. South Carolina is trending up and could play spoiler to a few teams next year. The SEC is still the most dominant conference in the country and they will look to prove it once again next year.
Can Georgia pull off a threepeat? – Winning one title is already tough. Winning back to back championships is exponentially tougher. Winning three in a row is almost unheard of in college football. Schools struggle to win their conference three times in a row, let alone a national championship. Georgia is a team who could possible win three in a row though. The Bulldogs will lose numerous players on both sides of the ball but it did not stop them last year after six defensive players were drafted in the first round. Kirby Smart has built a culture where players learn to wait their turn or are comfortable with splitting snaps to reduce wear and tear on the body. The biggest question for Georgia is at quarterback. Stetson Bennett is out of eligibility meaning a new quarterback will be under center next year. Carson Beck was the primary back up but the job is not guaranteed for him. Brock Vandagriff and Gunnar Stockton will both have an opportunity at the job. Vandagriff may have the highest ceiling as he was a five star quarterback in the class of 2021. Look for the competition to spill over into fall camp.
Has Alabama been passed over as the SEC’s top dog? – Next year feels like the start of a new era at Alabama. Bryce Young and Will Anderson are off to the NFL and both have been the face of the program for the last two seasons. Typically Alabama has an heir apparent at quarterback but the Crimson Tide will have a true quarterback battle. Jalen Milroe started one game this season after Young was injured. Milroe was not overly impressive and was scrutinized for his turnovers. He will compete with Ty Simpson who was a true freshman and only attempted five passes last season. The Crimson Tide are still one of the most talented teams in the country and Saban is clearly hungry for another title. He will replace his offensive and defensive coordinators after both had disappointing tenures in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide signed 11 of the top 50 players in the 2023 recruiting class meaning the talent is on the roster. If Saban can figure out the quarterback position, Alabama should be in a prime spot to make an appearance in the SEC championship game.
Will LSU, Ole Miss or Tennessee be the primary challenger to Alabama and Georgia? – Each year the SEC has a team step up and nearly contend for the conference championship. Tennessee appeared to be on track for a potential playoff birth until Hendon Hooker tore his ACL against South Carolina. LSU defeated Alabama and made an appearance in the SEC Championship before falling to Georgia. Lane Kiffin has Ole Miss trending in the right direction and has been competitive with nearly every SEC team since his arrival in Oxford. One of these three teams is likely to give Alabama and Georgia a legitimate threat this year but which one will it be? LSU feels like the leader with Jayden Daniels coming back at quarterback. LSU has also been active in the transfer portal bringing in players on the defensive side of the ball to address areas of need. Tennessee is a wild card because Joe Milton is expected to start at quarterback and his play has been bipolar. Milton played well in the Orange Bowl against Clemson throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns. He will need to be consistent in order for Tennessee to be competitive next year. Ole Miss could be considered a dark horse while also the most talented team of this group. Lane Kiffin has been a frequent visitor to the transfer portal finding players who can be instant impact players. Kiffin brought in Spencer Sanders and Walker Howard to compete with Jaxson Dart at quarterback to give them the best chance to win. One of these three schools will rise up but which one will it be?
Does Texas A&M rebound or continue to regress? – Texas A&M was arguably the most disappointing team in college football last year. Numerous polls had the Aggies ranked in the top 10 to start the season and they failed to even come close to those expectations. Texas A&M finished with a 5-7 record and no bowl appearance. The offense was abysmal and struggled to find any consistency throughout the whole year. The defense met the expecations allowing only 21 points per game. The Aggies have lost 25 players to the transfer portal over the last year which raises questions. Even in the age of the transfer portal, schools do not typically lose 25 scholarship players over the course of a calendar year. Many of the players transferring were limited contributors which may have a minimal impact in long run but there is still cause for concern. Jimbo Fisher should have his quarterback in Conner Weigman after rotating between Haynes King, Max Johnson and Weigman last year. The defensive line has a chance to be special with Shemar Stewart, Walter Nolen, Lebbeus Overton and Enai White returning for their second year. All four players were top 50 recruits in the class of 2022 and saw significant playing time in their freshman season.
Can South Carolina keep the momentum going? – Shane Beamer is one of the best up and coming coaches in college football. He helped South Carolina to an 8-5 record which included wins over Tennessee and Clemson. Beamer brought youth and energy into the program which has helped build the program. He brought in Spencer Rattler before the 2022 season as they were together at Oklahoma in 2020. Rattler returns after a strong finish to his 2022 campaign. The Gamecocks do have some concerns as the program saw a significant number of departures following the season. Starting running back Marshawn Lloyd opted to transfer to USC while starting tight end Jahiem Bell transferred to Florida State. South Carolina was active bringing in multiple tight ends and offensive linemen in the transfer portal. Beamer will need to retain his starters on a year to year basis to help continuity and chemistry within the program. The Gamecocks are likely to make a bowl game but do not expect them to compete for the SEC this year. Beamer has the program moving in the right direction and will not be an easy opponent for any team in the SEC.