Here come the picks and we’ll begin by taking a look at the Eastern division. Anytime you have either Florida or Tennessee having down years (and the Vols have had a lot lately), the SEC East will seem down and that’s the case this year, too.
South Carolina and Georgia are clearly the class of this division and it’s somewhat of a shame that these two meet so early in the season. Ah, but such is life. On to the picks…
1) South Carolina Gamecocks [Overall 11-1, SEC 7-1] – The Gamecocks make it four straight 11 win seasons and find their way to Atlanta for the second time. The ‘Cocks will survive Texas A&M and Georgia in the first three weeks of the season, but fall to Auburn in their October trip the Plains.
2) Georgia Bulldogs [10-2, 6-2] – An early loss to South Carolina will ultimately keep the Dawgs from their second trip to the SEC championship game in three years. Their other loss will come late to longtime rival Auburn. [Edit: Actually, that would be three out of four years.]
3) Missouri Tigers [8-4, 4-4] – The Tigers take a step back from last season’s SEC East division championship. New starting quarterback Maty Mauk will play well, but not good enough to prevent four conference losses.
4) Tennessee Volunteers [6-6, 3-5] – The Vols become bowl eligible in their second season under Butch Jones. A win in week six over division rival Florida is the highlight of this season as UT ends a skid of three straight seasons with no bowl.
5) Florida Gators [6-6, 3-5] – If Gator coach Will Muschamp is indeed on the hot seat, things will only get hotter by season’s end. The conference scheduler did Florida no favors by writing in games against Alabama and LSU, both losses.
6) Kentucky Wildcats [4-8, 1-7] – Baby steps. That’s the key phrase for Wildcat fans this season, the second under head coach Mark Stoops. The ‘Cats haven’t won a conference game since 2011, but should get one this year against Vanderbilt.
7) Vanderbilt Commodores [4-8, 0-8] – Speaking of Vanderbilt, things return to normal for the ‘Dores this year as their streak of three straight bowl games end. If you’re a Commodore, you’re thankful for out of conference games.