Published August 14, 2019

By William Whisler

With college football a little over a week away, the Whiteboard preview continues after taking extensive looks at the ACC, the Big 12 and the Pac 12.

The Whiteboard now transitions to the SEC, where Alabama has arguably been one of the best teams in all of the land under coach Nick Saban. Saban has built a prominent dynasty and the Crimson Tide will be a top contender again for the SEC championship.

Georgia has been solid in previous seasons and once again should be formidable, while LSU, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M look to get back to the level of their rich traditions.

Here’s a look at the SEC.

2018 Order of Finish (Conference, Overall)

East Division

Georgia 7-1, 11-3

Florida 5-3, 10-3

Kentucky 5-3, 10-3

South Carolina 4-4, 7-6

Missouri 4-4, 8-5

Vanderbilt 3-5, 6-7

Tennessee 2-6, 5-7

 

West Division

Alabama 8-0, 14-1*

Texas A&M 5-3, 9-4

LSU 5-3, 10-3

Mississippi State 4-4, 8-5

Auburn 3-5, 8-5

Ole Miss 1-7, 5-7

Arkansas 0-8, 2-10

2018 Championship Game: Alabama 35, Georgia 28

*Conference champion

2018 Bowl Results

2018 SEC Bowl Record: 6-6

Texas Bowl: Baylor 45, Vanderbilt 38

Music City Bowl: Auburn 63, Purdue 14

Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma State 38, Missouri 33

Belk Bowl: Virginia 28, South Carolina 0

Outback Bowl: Iowa 27, Mississippi State 22

Gator Bowl: Texas A&M 52, NC State 13

Citrus Bowl: Kentucky 27, Penn State 24

Peach Bowl: Florida 41, Michigan 15

Fiesta Bowl: LSU 40, UCF 32

Sugar Bowl: Texas 28, Georgia 21

Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal): Alabama 45, Oklahoma 34

CFP National Championship Game: Clemson 44, Alabama 16

East Division

Georgia

 2018 Record: 7-1, 11-3 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 37.9 PPG (2nd in the SEC), 238.8 Rushing Yards Per Game (Led the SEC), 226.1 Passing Yards Per Game (8th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 19.2 PPG Allowed (4th in the SEC), 134 Rushing Yards Per Game (5th in the SEC), 180.3 Passing Yards Per Game (2nd in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift

Defensive Key Returners: FS Richard LeCounte, SS J.R. Reed

Toughest Games: Sept. 21 vs Notre Dame, Nov. 2 vs Florida, Nov. 16 at Auburn

 Georgia seems to finally have settled into its role as a top contender for the national championship after managing setbacks in each of the last few years and a loss to Alabama in the National Championship Game in 2017.

The Bulldogs return their starting quarterback in Jake Fromm, their leading rusher in D’Andre Swift and their leading tacklers in safeties Richard LeCounte and J.R. Reed. The Bulldogs have a fairly easy schedule and avoid Alabama in the regular season. Expect big things from Georgia.

Prediction: 12-0, 8-0 SEC

Florida

2018 Record: 5-3, 10-3 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 35 PPG (5th in the SEC), 213.2 Rushing Yards Per Game (4th in the SEC), 213.5 Passing Yards Per Game (10th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 20 PPG Allowed (6th in the SEC), 162.5 Rushing Yards Per Game (10th in the SEC), 180.8 Passing Yards Per Game (3rd in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Lamical Perine, QB Felipe Franks

Defensive Key Returners: LB David Reese II

Toughest Games: Oct. 5 vs Auburn, Oct. 12 at LSU, Nov. 2 vs Georgia, Nov. 30 vs Florida State

Florida enters 2019 with Dan Mullen ready to get the Gators’ turned around at a faster rate than what was originally expected. Florida finished last year with 10 wins and has a manageable schedule outside of a few tough games against Auburn, LSU and rival Florida State.

The Gators could once again be headed for nine or 10 wins and a prestigious bowl game.

Prediction: 9-3, 6-2 SEC

Kentucky

2018 Record: 5-3, 10-3 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 26.6 PPG (12th in the SEC), 199.4 Rushing Yards Per Game (6th in the SEC), 161.5 Passing Yards Per Game (14th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 16.8 PPG Allowed (2nd in the SEC), 151.6 Rushing Yards Per Game (8th in the SEC), 186.3 (4th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Terry Wilson, WR Lynn Bowden

Defensive Key Returners: DT Quinton Bohanna

Toughest Games: Sept. 14 vs Florida, Oct. 19 at Georgia, Nov. 30 vs Louisville

 Kentucky enters 2019 almost definitely expecting to regress after possessing the second-best defensive in the FBS last year, allowing just 16.8 points per game in large part because of the dominant linebacker Josh Allen.

The Wildcats return just eight starters from last season’s 10-win squad that beat Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. I expect bowl eligibility from the Wildcats and not much else this season.

Prediction: 7-5, 4-4 SEC

South Carolina

2018 Record: 4-4, 7-6

2018 Offensive Ranks: 30.1 PPG (9th in the SEC), 152.8 Rushing Yards Per Game (12th in the SEC), 272.8 Passing Yards Per Game (4th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 27.2 PPG Allowed (11th in the SEC), 195.3 Rushing Yards Per Game (13th in the SEC), 229 Passing Yards Per Game (9th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: AB Jake Bentley, WR Bryan Edwards

Defensive Key Returners: LB T.J. Brunson

Toughest Games: Sept. 14 vs Alabama, Oct. 12 at Georgia, Oct. 19 vs. Florida, Nov. 30 vs Clemson

South Carolina enters 2019 with perhaps one of the toughest schedules in the nation. The Gamecocks will face a tough SEC schedule that includes Alabama and Georgia, while also playing in-state rival Clemson at season’s end.

The Gamecocks will need to replace their No. 1 wide receiver in Deebo Samuel and cut down on turnovers from a season ago in order to be successful. The Gamecocks are looking for another season of bowl eligibility under coach Will Muschamp.

Prediction: 6-6, 3-5 SEC

Missouri 

2018 Record: 4-4, 8-5 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 36.6 PPG (3rd in the SEC), 202.4 Rushing Yards Per Game (5th in the SEC), 279.4 Passing Yards Per Game (3rd in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 25.5 PPG Allowed (9th in the SEC), 126.5 Rushing Yards Per Game (4th in the SEC), 262 Passing Yards Per Game (Last in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Larry Rountree, WR Johnathon Johnson

Defensive Key Returners: LB Cale Garrett

Toughest Games: Nov. 9 at Georgia, Nov. 16 vs. Florida

Missouri enters 2019 with a lot of shakeup, none more important than the departure to the NFL of QB Drew Lock, who threw for more than 12,000 yards and 99 TDs in his collegiate career. The Tigers have a fairly decent schedule and could be just as good as a season ago with QB Kelly Bryant transferring in.

The Tigers are facing NCAA sanctions and will not be allowed to participate in the 2019 postseason.

Prediction: 7-5, 4-4 SEC 

Vanderbilt

2018 Record: 2-6, 5-7 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 28.5 PPG (10th in the SEC), 167.5 Rushing Yards Per Game (9th in the SEC), 243.7 Passing Yards Per Game (6th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 26.6 PPG Allowed (10th in the SEC), 194.7 Rushing Yards Per Game (12th in the SEC), 244.2 Passing Yards Per Game (10th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, WR Kalija Lipscomb

Defensive Key Returners: LB Dimitri Moore

Toughest Games: Aug. 31 vs Georgia, Nov. 9 at Florida

Vanderbilt enters 2019 under coach Derek Mason who has led the Commodores to a bowl game in two of the past three seasons. The Commodores having a decently manageable schedule and return one of the SEC’s leading rushers in Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

The Commodores are in the midst of replacing their starting quarterback from last season and only have 11 returning starters on both sides of the ball. Vandy should compete in another bowl game this season.

Prediction: 7-5, 4-4 SEC

Tennessee 

2018 Record: 2-6, 5-7 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 22.8 PPG (13th in the SEC), 129.1 Rushing Yards Per Game (14th in the SEC), 196.4 Passing Yards Per Game (11th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 27.9 PPG Allowed (12th in the SEC), 154.5 Rushing Yards Per Game (9th in the SEC), 222.9 Passing Yards Per Game (8th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Jarrett Guarantano, WR Marquez Callaway

Defensive Key Returners: LB Daniel Bituli

Toughest Games: Sept. 21 at Florida, Oct. 5 vs Georgia, Oct. 19 at Alabama 

Tennessee enters 2019 with a brutal schedule and comes off a season in which the team went 5-7. The Volunteers will have a tough climb and a lot of it will depend on if QB Jarrett Guarantano can stay healthy and be solid as a starter.

The Volunteers have a tough stretch from the end of September all the way through October and they should be happy to reach bowl eligibility this season.

Prediction: 5-7, 2-6 SEC 

West Division:

Alabama

2018 Record: 8-0 SEC, 14-1 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 45.6 PPG (Led the SEC), 198.4 Rushing Yards Per Game (7th in the SEC), 323.6 Passing Yards Per Game (2nd in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 18.1 PPG Allowed (3rd in the SEC), 121.3 Rushing Yards Per Game (3rd in the SEC), 198.3 Passing Yards Per Game (5th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Tua Tagovailoa, WR Jerry Jeudy, RB Najee Harris

Defensive Key Returners:  LB Dylan Moses

Toughest Games: Oct. 12 at Texas A&M, Nov. 9 vs. LSU, Nov. 30 at Auburn

 Alabama enters the 2019 season after getting dismantled by Clemson in the national championship a year ago. The Crimson Tide is preparing for what is being dubbed “the Revenge Tour” and with an easy schedule, The Crimson Tide will definitely be competing for the SEC Championship come season’s end.

Can Alabama defeat Georgia in a thrilling rematch after coming back last season? It’ll be a must watch game in December.

Prediction: 12-0, 8-0 SEC

Texas A&M

2018 Record: 5-3 SEC, 9-4 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 36 PPG (4th in the SEC), 219 Rushing Yards Per Game (3rd in the SEC), 252.6 Passing Yards Per Game (5th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 25.3 PPG (8th in the SEC), 95.2 Rushing Yards Per Game (2nd in the SEC), 253.2 Passing Yards Per Game (5th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Kellen Mond, WR Quartney Davis

Defensive Key Returners: DT Justin Madubuike

Toughest Games: Sept. 7 at Clemson, Sept. 21 vs Auburn, Oct. 12 vs Alabama, Nov. 23 at Georgia

 Texas A&M faces murderer’s row this season as the Aggies will battle some of college football’s top teams in 2019. The Aggies, led by Jimbo Fisher, had a great first year and Fisher is hoping to complete the turnaround at College Station.

The Aggies won nine games in 2019 and return starting quarterback Kellen Mund and WR Quartney Davis who caught seven TDs a year ago. The Aggies only return four starters on a defense that was shaky against the pass and let up a fair amount of points last year.

Prediction: 8-4, 5-3 SEC

LSU

2018 Record: 5-3, 10-3 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 32.4 PPG (7th in the SEC), 173.6 Rushing Yards Per Game (8th in the SEC), 228.5 Passing Yards Per Game (7th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 21.8 PPG Allowed (7th in the SEC), 138.6 Rushing Yards Per Game (7th in the SEC), 200.1 Passing Yards Per Game (6th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Joe Burrow, WR Justin Jefferson

Defensive Key Returners: LB Jacob Phillips, SS Grant Delpit

Toughest Games: Sept. 7 at Texas, Oct. 12 vs Florida, Oct. 13 vs Georgia, Nov. 3 vs Alabama

 LSU looks to improve after reaching its first New Year’s Six bowl and become a true contender for the College Football Playoff in 2019.

The Tigers were fantastic a year ago and Ed Orgeron is hoping to get back to the SEC Championship for the first time since 2011.

Prediction: 10-2, 6-2 SEC

Mississippi State

2018 Record: 4-4, 8-5

2018 Offensive Ranks: 28.5 PPG (10th in the SEC), 223.6 Rushing Yards Per Game (2nd in the SEC), 173.8 Passing Yards Per Game (13th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 13.2 PPG Allowed (1st in the SEC), 95.1 Rushing Yards Per Game (1st in the SEC), 168 (1st in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Kylin Hill, QB Tommy Stevens (Transfer)

Defensive Key Returners: LB Erroll Thompson

Toughest Games: Sept. 28 at Auburn, Oct. 20 at LSU, Oct. 27 Texas A&M, Nov. 10 at Alabama 

Mississippi State surprisingly had one of the best defensives in the country and the best defense in the SEC last year — even under a great offensive head coach — but that defense has just three returners from a season ago.

The Bulldogs will have transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens coming in to reunite with Joe Moorhead and it could prove to be a fruitful reunion.

Prediction: 8-4, 4-4 SEC 

Auburn 

2018 Record: 3-5, 8-5 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 30.9 PPG (8th in the SEC), 167.5 Rushing Yards Per Game (10th in the SEC), 222.5 Passing Yards Per Game (9th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 19.2 PPG Allowed (4th in the SEC), 135.9 Rushing Yards Per Game (6th in the SEC), 219.5 Passing Yards Per Game (7th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Jatarvious Whitlow, WR Seth Williams

Defensive Key Returners: DE Marlon Davidson

Toughest Games: Aug. 31 vs Oregon, Sept. 21 at Texas A&M, Oct. 26 at LSU, Nov. 30 vs Alabama

 Auburn enters 2019 with a tough non-conference opener against Oregon and a tough SEC schedule against Florida, LSU, Georgia and Alabama and must also replace starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who left for the NFL.

The Tigers have done extremely well in Gus Malzahn’s tenure and are looking to build on last year’s eight-win season.

Prediction: 7-5, 4-4 SEC

 Ole Miss

 2018 Record: 1-7, 5-7 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 33.9 PPG (6th in the SEC), 164.1 Rushing Yards Per Game (11th in the SEC), 346.4 Passing Yards Per Game (1st in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 36.2 PPG Allowed (14th in the SEC), 221.8 Rushing Yards Per Game (14th in the SEC), 261.7 Passing Yards Per Game (13th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Scottie Phillips, WR Elijah Moore

Defensive Key Returners: LB Mohamed Sanogo

Toughest Games: Sept. 28 at Alabama, Oct. 19 at Texas A&M, Nov. 2 at Auburn, Nov. 16 vs LSU

 Ole Miss was a team that could put up points in bunches with some huge wide receivers in D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown a season ago. Unfortunately, they also gave up points better than most teams at the NCAA FBS level.

Fortunately for Ole Miss, the team returns eight starters on defense. Unfortunately, the Rebels only have three returners on offense and have a brutal schedule.

Prediction: 3-9, 1-7 SEC

Arkansas 

2018 Record: 0-8, 2-10 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 21.7 PPG (14th in the SEC), 143.4 Rushing Yards Per Game (13th in the SEC), 192.3 Passing Yards per Game (12th in the SEC).

2018 Defensive Ranks:  34.8 PPG Allowed (13th in the SEC), 167.8 Rushing Yards Per Game (11th in the SEC), 245.3 Passing Yards Per Game (11th in the SEC).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Rakeem Boyd, WR Deon Stewart

Defensive Key Returners: McTelvin Agim

Toughest Games: Sept. 28 vs Texas A&M, Oct. 19 at Auburn, Oct. 26 at Alabama

Arkansas returns 11 starters from last year’s team that was extremely disappointing under Chad Morris in his first season as head coach. The team has added some top prospects but still has a lot of run to grow and isn’t expected to do much in 2019.

Prediction: 4-8, 0-8 SEC

SEC Championship: Alabama vs Georgia

Champion: Alabama