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SEC Football: Predicting the Conference’s Top Five Games in 2013

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Top 5 SEC Games of 2013

Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

If last year was any indication, the SEC football schedule that was released on Wednesday is going to provide some of the best college football ever seen in the conference's illustrious history. Last season, Alabama's comeback on November 3 against rival LSU paved the road for back-to-back championships by Nick Saban's team. The following week, the Tide suffered one of the most stunning losses of the season to Johnny Manziel and the upstart Texas A&M Aggies on November 10. The SEC Championship game was stuff of legends, incomparable as far as games go in college football. Georgia was five yards away from a meeting with Notre Dame in the BCS national championship. The game saw six different lead changes and Alabama coming away with their second SEC Championship in four years.

This season, the newly-released SEC schedule will likely make for even better games with the parody in the league as good as it's ever been. The SEC is stacked from top to bottom, and the West is the best division in college football. Alabama will claw and scratch for a chance at a three-peat for the national title, with third-year starting quarterback A.J. McCarron, while Texas A&M and Manziel are a complete package offensively against supreme SEC defenses. LSU is the most underrated team in the land, coming into the AP poll at a distant No. 12 while Ole Miss is the most dangerous sleeper in the league after last season and Mississippi State brings a lot of momentum with three straight bowl appearances. Don't count out first-year coaches Bret Bielema of Arkansas or Gus Malzahn of Auburn, either.

The East division brings in three top-10 teams: Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. Vanderbilt should be in the Top 25 throughout the year, and Missouri can play with anybody in this conference as well. First-year coaches Butch Jones of Tennessee and Mark Stoops of Kentucky should right the tide from last season.

The SEC schedule for the upcoming college football season presents an unbearable slate of games for any team. Here are the top five matchups on the schedule this season.

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5. LSU @ Georgia

Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

The glaring weakness coming into the season for Georgia is its run defense. Last year's Georgia run defense was flat out embarrassing under Todd Grantham. LSU should have ample opportunities to expose a weakness that still might not be solved.

LSU must have an legitimate passing game to go along with Alfred Blue and Kenny Hillard. This offense shouldn't ever finish 92nd in the NCAA again with new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Georgia will do just enough in this potential top seven matchup.

Prediction: Georgia 23, LSU 20

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4. Florida @ Georgia

Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

It's safe to say that the Gators offense wants a mulligan after being held without a touchdown in this rivalry a season ago. Florida turned the ball over six times, three after the half. Jordan Reed's fumble did extensive damage as well. Florida's bread and butter, a strong ground game, never flexed its muscles.

Georgia has won five out of the last 23 meetings. Florida has a two week rest period to gear up for the game, which is under-appreciated. Florida will be unable to limit the damage from Jonathan Rumph and Michael Bennett. Georgia finishes off an elite defense.

Prediction: Georgia 23, Florida 17

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3. LSU @ Alabama

Derick E. Hingle-USA Today Sports

Since 2008, this game has gone in spurts; Alabama wins two straight meetings, then LSU wins two in a row, followed by Alabama, that has won the last two, including the 2012 BCS Championship game. Because of the pageantry of the last couple of meetings, this game dominates the college football landscape as the nation's top rivalry. It'll be shown in prime-time for the third consecutive season.

Alabama has the edge here at Bryant-Denny. T.J Yeldon was money down the stretch for the Tide, and he should do better than his 104 all-purpose yards from the previous meeting. McCarron was far from sharp in Baton Rouge last season but made the best plays when it mattered most. He will do it again this time.

Prediction: Alabama 21, LSU 9

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2. South Carolina @ Georgia

Jeff Blake-USA Today Sports

This game will go a long way in deciding who will represent the SEC East in the first Saturday of December. Georgia, for my money, will three-peat of the East. Georgia has the best rushing attack in the country and a quarterback in Aaron Murray that's as groomed as anyone else in the country.

Georgia will need to establish the run, exclusively with "Gurshall." South Carolina has the best defensive line in the conference, and they will need to prove it by coming out with a good showing stuffing the run. The better team wins in three weeks.

Prediction: Georgia 38, South Carolina 27

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1. Alabama @ Texas A&M

John David Mercer-USA Today Sports

A.J. McCarron and Nick Saban don't lose big games. They won't spoil their revenge at Johnny Manziel or Texas A&M in the biggest game of the season. McCarron will pull out a Heisman dramatic moment, throwing for four scores to the best receiving corps in the country.

Manziel is going to be outstanding in the early goings. However, Alabama will play out of their minds defensively getting the ball out of Manziel's hands. Look for Alabama to play four strong quarters and jump out first in a big way. McCarron's ticket to New York City will already be punched after Week 3.

Prediction: Alabama 34, Texas A&M 10