SEC Football Teams Guaranteed to Be Overhyped in 2013 Preseason Poll
Every season the college football preseason poll is released, and it is guaranteed to have a few SEC teams way higher than they should be. Teams from other conferences are also over-hyped, but there is nothing like the SEC, who the voters seem to be madly in love with.
This conference can't do any wrong, as there were five SEC teams in last year’s preseason rankings.
This upcoming season’s preseason poll should be no different. You can expect Alabama to receive every first-place vote and will likely see Texas A&M only a couple of spots behind the national champions. Don't be surprised to see a few other SEC squads in the Top 10 and even a few surprises at the bottom. Overall, like most years, majority of this conference will be ranked heading into the 2013 season.
Here are some of the teams that will receive too much love in the preseason poll.
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Projected Ranking: Top 10
Why Everybody Is in Love: Steve Spurrier has turned South Carolina into that team that is inching closer and closer to becoming a national championship contender. With two straight seasons of 11 victories, the South Carolina Gamecocks finally look like they are ready to compete with the big boys on a national level. Six starters return on offense, including a senior quarterback in Connor Shaw and the defense still has a monster for a defensive end in Jadeveon Clowney.
This could be the year for the folks out in South Carolina.
Reasons Everybody Should Calm Down: With Marcus Lattimore limping his way to the NFL draft, South Carolina still has to find that running back that can be effective for an entire season. The ground game took a nosedive when he was injured late in the year and there are still questions around the position. The offense also lost playmaking wide receiver Ace Sanders, who declared eligible for the next level at the last moment.
With these questions already in the air, South Carolina fans have another one: Do you really trust Shaw as your quarterback?
Sure, the defense still has Clowney on the defensive line, who is more than capable of taking over a game, but this is also a unit that lost every single full-time starter at the linebacker position. The pass rush should remain dominant and the secondary is full of veterans, but all new faces in the middle of the defense isn't something to be comfortable about.
The schedule also won't be a cakewalk with a trip to Georgia, and games against North Carolina, Florida and Clemson on tap.
Spurrier will have to continue pulling the right strings for the 2013 season to be a successful one.
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Projected Ranking: Top 5
Why Everybody Is in Love: In case you haven't heard, Texas A&M has this phenomenal quarterback named Johnny Manziel. Thanks to a wonderful recruiting class, he will have even more weapons around him, including running back Ben Malena, who averaged six yards a touch last season.
The Texas A&M Aggies were also the only team to beat Alabama, and seem to be that 'it' team in college football at the moment. Everybody is riding this Texas A&M bandwagon until the wheels fall off. Also, just so you don't forget, some Heisman Trophy winner is the quarterback of the team.
Reasons Everybody Should Calm Down: The two things that the SEC does better than any other conference are concerns for the Aggies. The reason this conference is so dominant is because what it does in the trenches, but there are issues on both the offensive and defensive line. Manziel will no longer be able to benefit greatly because he has an NFL prospect protecting him. Luke Joeckel has taken his talents to the NFL.
Also, speaking of Manziel, defensive coordinators now have an entire offseason to prepare for the young quarterback. He can't possibly be as spectacular as he was last season, can he?
Defensively, Texas A&M wasn't that great as it was, but now has lost its best player in defensive end Damontre Moore. The offensive fireworks are fun to watch and will earn many cool points with the younger generation, but there is no way you are winning the SEC without an elite defense.
Texas A&M has earned its respect in its first season in the SEC, but there is plenty of work to be done if there is going to be an encore in 2013.
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Projected Ranking: Top 15
Why Everybody Is in Love: When a team is consistent over the years, it starts to build a reputation throughout college football of being this national powerhouse. LSU has won at least 10 games in six of the last eight years and that weighs heavy on the pollsters mind. You won't find many programs out there that have put together a consistent track record the way Les Miles has with LSU, and even though there are plenty of holes to fill, there is enough talent in place due to remarkable recruiting.
This is a team that has overcome adversity before and many voters believe that LSU is still that top competition to Alabama in the SEC West.
Reasons Everybody Should Calm Down: There are only four starters on the defensive side of the ball that are coming back. The defensive end tandem of Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery is gone. Defensive tackle Bennie Logan left early for the NFL. There is no chance of Tyrann Mathieu coming back, and the secondary also lost Eric Reid and Tharold Simon.
I know LSU will be able to fill all of those spots with 5-star players, but that is way too much youth for my taste to expect everything to work out so smoothly.
The offense is in much better shape, but I'm not sure that is a good thing. You have to continue to love the running game of the LSU Tigers, but Zach Mettenberger must improve at quarterback before anybody can label this a national championship contender.
You combine all of these issues with a tough SEC schedule, and the team out in Baton Rouge may be in trouble this season.
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Projected Ranking: Top 10
Why Everybody Is in Love: Florida seems to be on the right track under head coach Will Muschamp, who was able to lead this program to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2009. He also had a young coaching staff that will have another year to work with the returning players on both sides of the ball, particularly Brent Pease on offense.
The Florida Gators now have an experienced quarterback and with a couple of ridiculous recruiting classes, Florida should have enough young talent in place to remain an SEC contender in year-three of the Muschamp era.
Reasons Everybody Should Calm Down: The defense has taken a serious hit with guys such as Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd and Jelani Jenkins all declaring early for the NFL draft. In fact, there are more players leaving than returning from the unit that carried the Gators last season. As for the offense, there are still question marks surrounding quarterback Jeff Driskel. Is he truly accurate and consistent enough to be a threat to put this offense over the top?
Even with all of the talent that has left, Florida should remain competitive with the many elite prospects it was able to snag in the recruiting process last season and with the current 2013 class. But much like last year, this Gators team may have more questions than answers heading into spring practice.
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Projected Ranking: No. 1
Why Everybody Is in Love: Three national championships in four years and unlike Chip Kelly, Nick Saban has shown no signs of leaving the college life. A.J. McCarron is returning for his senior season and has more weapons around him on offense than ever before. The defense also has fewer question marks than it did a year ago when this team was still able to bring the hardware back to Tuscaloosa. This is arguably the most talented team in the country.
Reasons Everybody Should Calm Down: Remember USC last season? Oklahoma did it back in 2011. Alabama fell victim in 2010, as well as many teams before in the preseason rankings. The media gets googly-eyed on one team and thinks that there is no way it isn't going to win the title. Guess what? It is very rare that the preseason No. 1 team ends up remaining at the top when the season comes to an end.
There are also issues on the offensive line that could cause issues early in the season when the schedule is the toughest.
No, this is not saying that Alabama can't win a third straight championship. However, there are many other solid teams that are coming back, and it won't be as easy for the Alabama Crimson Tide as most think it is going to be.