The Southeastern Conference has won an unprecedented seven straight BCS National Championships, proving its dominance over the rest of college football. The bad news for those other conferences is that it appears that the SEC is in line to win its eighth-straight title this year.
The Alabama Crimson Tide, two-time defending BCS National Champions, return a core of the team that won last year’s title by beating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 42-14 in the national title game. Quarterback A.J. McCarron is back for Alabama, as is running back T.J. Yeldon. Wide receiver Amari Cooper also returns, as does four-time national champion coach Nick Saban.
The schedule sets up nicely for Alabama as well, as the Crimson Tide face lesser opponents from the SEC East (Tennessee Volunteers and Kentucky Wildcats), and have most of their tough games at home. The notable exception is a Sept. 14 trip to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies, who beat the Tide in Tuscaloosa last season.
So, while it would appear that Alabama is the primary candidate to win the SEC’s eighth-straight BCS title, what happens if the Tide are upset on the way to the coronation? Is there another SEC team that could win the title?
The simple answer to that question is yes. As is the case every year, there is enough talent in the SEC to win it all, with teams like the Georgia Bulldogs, South Carolina Gamecocks and Florida Gators being the leading contenders.
Georgia returns quarterback Aaron Murray, as well as running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Last season, Georgia came up just five yards short of beating Alabama and playing for the BCS title. Mark Richt and his team hope to get over that hump this season.
South Carolina will have an outstanding defense this season, and with Steve Spurrier on the sidelines, the Gamecocks should be able to scheme their way to score enough points on offense. Replacing running back Marcus Lattimore will be key, but defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney might be the best defensive player in the country.
Florida is the team with the most question marks. The defense figures to be really good again this season, which is what head coach Will Muschamp wants. However, can the offense find enough playmakers to score with the opposition? Quarterback Jeff Driskel must improve this year, and one of the stable of running backs must replace the departed Mike Gillislee.
Alabama is still the prohibitive favorite to win the BCS title this season, but should something strange happen along the way, look for one of the SEC East members to be in a position to make it eight in a row for the conference.