2016 Preseason SEC Power Rankings

The SEC cemented themselves as the top conference in college football with an impressive performance in bowl season last year, but with several strong teams coming into the new year, it's possible that the conference will be even better next year. Here's how all 14 SEC teams stack up against each other going into 2016:

14) Missouri Tigers

Quite frankly, Mizzou is a mess going into the new season. Their offense ranked dead last in the conference last year, and there isn't a lot of hope that it will improve. Sophomore Drew Lock will start at quarterback, but they have no proven weapons on the outside and their returning leading rusher, Ish Witter, picked up just 511 yards last year. The defense will be solid, but losing defensive lineman Walter Brady and Harold Brantley hurts.

13) South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina was one of the most disappointing teams in the country last year, going just 3-9. They also have just nine starters returning from that group, leading to questions at every position. True freshman Brandon McIlwain is expected to start at quarterback, and he doesn't have any proven weapons to make the transition easy for him.

I blame last season's struggles more on poor coaching and schemes - and a lack of leadership - than an a overall lack of talent, but there's no doubt the Gamecocks are facing an uphill battle in 2016.

12) Vanderbilt Commodores

The Commodores host the Gamecocks on Thursday night, and the loser of which will be expected to finish at the bottom of the SEC East at the end of the year. Many have high hopes for Vandy this year thanks to their defense, but their offense (which ranked 123rd in the country) needs to get better for them do make any sort of noise this season.

11) Kentucky Wildcats

Head coach Mark Stoops is in his fourth year at Kentucky, but they have yet to make a bowl game. The Wildcats don't have the top-end talent to really make a lot of noise in the SEC, yet there is no reason why they shouldn't make a bowl game this year.

10) Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State is embarking on life without quarterback Dak Prescott, and we're not really sure how that will look. They have limited proven offensive weapons, and head coach Dan Mullen's ability to get them on the same page quickly will determine how successful they are.

9) Auburn Tigers

Auburn was a HUGE disappointment last year, and it doesn't look like they're due to a rebound season, either. Transfer John Franklin III surprisingly lost out on the starting QB job to Sean White, who was less than impressive last season, as he threw just one touchdown pass in seven games. If Auburn's offense is limited like that again, they may not make a bowl game.

8) Texas A&M Aggies

The quarterback problems at A&M are well documented, but Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight should keep the offense playing at a respectable level. Their defense is expected to take a step forward in the second year under defensive coordinator John Chavis, and the improvement - or lack thereof - of their unit will determine where they finish in a tough SEC West.

7) Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas has nine starters returning on defense and an experienced receiving core, headlined by star tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. You also know that head coach Bret Bielema will be able to develop running backs, so the running game will be a strength as well. The only question mark is a quarterback, where they are breaking in first-year starter Austin Allen.

6) Florida Gators

Florida surprisingly won the SEC East in head coach Jim McElwain's first season, and they still have the talent across the board to compete for another title next year. That being said, they need to figure out their quarterback situation if they're going to have a legitimate chance.

5) Georgia Bulldogs

It was a "disappointing" 10-win season for Georgia this year as they fired Mark Richt, but he left a lot of talent for new head coach Kirby Smart to use next year. Five-star recruit Jacob Eason will finally give the Bulldogs a reliable quarterback, and their defense will be much improved in Smart's system.

Oh yeah, they also get Heisman candidate running back Nick Chubb back from injury. With him leading the way, the Bulldogs will be extremely tough to beat.

4) Ole Miss Rebels

The Rebels lost most of their star power with wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche all in the NFL, but they're replacing them with the top recruiting class in the country. Quarterback Chad Kelly is the best returning signal-caller in the conference, and with most of the defense returning, Ole Miss will be a serious threat in the SEC West again next year.

3) Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee is the favorite to win the SEC East, and enter the season as a dark horse College Football Playoff contender. Head coach Butch Jones has stacked this team with top recruiting class after top recruiting class, and this is the year they finally have the experience to match the talent. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs is arguably the best quarterback in the conference, running back Jalen Hurd is a legitimate star, and their defense is littered with top NFL prospects - headlined by defensive end Derrick Barnett.

2) LSU Tigers

Speaking of Nick Chubb, which SEC team wants to face Leonard Fournette? Arguably the best back in the country is back, along with almost all of the rest of the Tigers' starters as they were one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2015. Add in another year of experience and a top five recruiting class, and LSU has all the ingredients of a College Football Playoff team.

1) Alabama Crimson Tide

At this point, I think it's best if we stopped doubting Nick Saban and Alabama. 

They lost a ton of talent this offseason, including Heisman winner Derrick Henry, but the Tide always have more than enough talent to adequately fill all positions of need. Their secondary returns a bunch of young stars, headlined by freshman cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick, and wide receiver Calvin Ridley will provide an elite target to either Cooper Bateman or Blake Barnett under center.

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