Bill’s wrapped up his conference previews with Alabama (don’t worry, still quasi-godlike) and then gone on to power rank the fourteen conference programs. Here’s how he sees the SEC right now:
3. South Carolina
I was tempted to put Alabama in its own tier again, as I do think the Tide start a step ahead of everybody else. But all five of these teams have top-10 potential, and there’s been just enough turnover in Tuscaloosa to hold off.
6. Ole Miss
7. Texas A&M
10. Mississippi State
Any of these Tier 2 teams could end up playing at a top-15 level … which would make them Tier 1 candidates in any other conference. Instead they’re at least one step behind each of the top five teams.
The Vols are too young (and have been too iffy in recent years) to be considered anything more than a top-40 or -50 team this year, but they have too much potential to be stuck with the names below.
Arkansas almost belongs with Tennessee, but I think the Hogs are still a year away from top-50 quality. And if you combined Vandy’s defense with Kentucky’s offense, you might have close to a Tier 2 team. So there’s that, at least.
Honestly, I could nitpick a little here and there (especially with Tennessee on its own tier and the order of his Tier 2 teams), but overall it looks like a pretty fair representation of where things currently stand. What I’m curious about is which team you see winding up playing the farthest above its preseason assessment and which team falls the farther below.
I’ll get the party started with the usual caveat about injuries – not that it worked for Florida or Georgia last year – but the team I think may be most overrated is TAMU. I know Sumlin recruits like a sumbitch, but you don’t lose all that All-American talent without missing a beat. And the team I can see making a jump is Mississippi State if Prescott is ready to take his game to the next level.
What say you guys?