2015 SEC Football Preview (part III)

Last updated on August 21st, 2015 at 10:22 am

So far we have gone through teams 14-9: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Arkansas. Now we will get down toward the top-5.

At #8 is a traditional power that is at a crossroads. LSU lost four conference games a year ago, and were just all over the map. They were embarrassed by Auburn and Arkansas, beat Ole Miss and Texas A&M on the road and took Alabama to overtime. Following a loss to Notre Dame in Nashville to close the season, LSU lost defensive coordinator John Chavis to A&M, with lawsuits flying. Kevin Steele comes in with an inconsistent record of success. Still, defense will be the strength of this team.

The defense will be typically stout in 2015, and they may possess the best running back in college football in Leonard Fournette, as well as explosiveness at receiver. But who will be the quarterback and will either of them possibly be what they need in the rugged SEC West? Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings return to battle it out. Both can run, each has strong arms, neither is accurate—and each has shown struggles in leading the offense in adverse conditions.

LSU could challenge for the College Football Playoff or it could all blow up. They get Auburn and A&M at home but travel to Alabama and Ole Miss. I may have them a bit high even, but middle-of-the-road about captures the Tigers, and Les Miles always seems to pull some out.

Mississippi State reached heights never-before-seen in 2014 with a #1 national ranking and a contender for the playoff. Then the Egg Bowl happened. To call it a lazy and uninspired effort against Ole Miss would be very kind. A 31-17 loss knocked them out of championship contention, and a similar effort got them run over by Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The Maroon Bulldogs also made a change at DC, re-hiring Manny Diaz. Heart was their biggest problem though, not scheme.

A Heisman frontrunner, QB Dak Prescott, returns to a backfield with little experience. State returns 7-of-22 overall starters from last season, a reason State was seen by the Media as 7th in the West. I have more faith in them than that, and it starts with Prescott, the best in the conference. State must learn quickly.

Consecutive road games at Auburn and A&M come as the calendar turns from September to October. After that though, the schedule is as manageable as anyone’s. I think they will prove people wrong.

A program used to proving people wrong stands at #6, two-time defending Eastern Division champion, Missouri. No one ever imagined the impact Mizzou has had in football since joining the league for the 2012 season.
After going 2-6 in 2012, the Tigers have gone an unimaginable 14-2 the last two seasons. Though they lost decisively in Atlanta each year, it is still an amazing accomplishment. Do not count them out in 2015 either.
Maty Mauk returns at quarterback, and if he can guard against the key mistake, can achieve elite status in this league. The offense will center on Mauk, and RB Russell Hansbrough. Inexperience abounds out wide with no one who caught for even 200 yards last year returning. The defense gets it done in a group concept led by LB Kentrell Brothers.

Can Missouri make it three in a row? Trips to Georgia and Arkansas are the largest hurdles of another crossover schedule that does not contain the West’s best, a main criticism of their continued regular season success.