In Depth Analysis On The 2016 SEC Title Game Winning Predictions
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Alabama Crimson Tide have been the class of the SEC for years, so it should come as no surprise that we have them at the top of the pile to reach the SEC title game. Bama lost a number of starters in the offseason, but the team is reloaded with the No. 1 recruiting class and some solid returning starters, including Alabama’s best wide receiver in 2015 Calvin Ridley who made 89 catches for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns, so the Tide should remain competitive. Dealing with SEC opponents like Ole Miss, LSU and Tennessee won’t be easy for the young Crimson Tide, but Nick Saban is a master at dealing with adversity and Bama’s defense should still be among the best in the SEC. With that, another double-digit win season should be very possible for the team, along with a spot in the SEC championship game.
Star running back Leonard Fournette, he of the 6.5 yards per carry average and 1,953 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in 2015, will be the player to watch in LSU as the Tigers look to upend Bama from the top of the SEC. Fournette is a once-in-a-generation talent at running back and the 16 additional starters that will be returning from last season’s squad should motivate Tiger players for a big season. Besides having Fournette at RB and an experienced Brandon Harris at QB to lead the offense serviceably, the Tigers have a great hire in new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, a very solid front-seven and an experienced secondary that should surely allow LSU to make a strong run for the SEC title.
Ole Miss Rebels
QB Chad Kelly is arguably the best quarterback in the SEC, and after completing 65.1 percent of his passes for 4,042 yards and 31 touchdowns while rushing for 500 yards and 10 scores in 2015, it isn’t far-fetched to expect him to have another solid season. The Rebels were the lone team to beat Bama in 2015, and that should come as big motivation for them to repeat the same in 2016 and even soar to higher heights in the SEC. As a concern, though, Mississippi is returning just a handful of starters, and that could easily complicate their contention for the conference title.
The Vols are the most hyped team in the SEC and that is largely based on the fact that the team is returning the most starters in the conference (at 18). Noteworthy of these returning starters is arguably the second-best QB in the SEC in senior dual-threat signal-caller Joshua Dobbs and his explosive running back tandem of Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. The 6’3’’, 210-pound Dobbs threw for 2,291 yards and 15 touchdowns last season while rushing for another 671 yards and 11 scores; numbers that point to a high ceiling should he play up to his potential. Tennessee’s defense wasn’t scary as Bama’s, but it was darn good in 2015, so the return of the experienced starters should guarantee more solid production in the D. It won’t, however, be that smooth-sailing for the Vols, as they have a fiery schedule that includes the likes of Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama. If they can get out of this furnace with one loss (or two losses at the worst); then winning the SEC East and playing should be a strong possibility. If not, then it will be adios for them in the SEC title game.
Like Tennessee, Georgia is stacked up with playmakers on both sides of the ball, featuring Georgia a lethal running back tandem that is spearheaded by elite rusher Nick Chubb. As a freshman in 2014, Chubb ran for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he was on pace to obliterate those numbers in 2015 before suffering a season-ending injury. With health on his side, Chubb is expected to get back to lead Georgia’s backfield in a big way. The fact that the running game will be supported by either Jacob Eason battles or Sony Michel at QB should keep the Georgia offense on song. In addition to that, Georgia’s defense has some talented pieces and the Bulldogs have a cheap schedule with games against Ole Miss and Tennessee (at home in Athens) being their toughest games.
With Georgia and Tennessee expected to be back at their best, the Gators will be hard-done to repeat as divisional champs after breezing through a weak divisional competition in 2015. Not to mention, Florida lost some key talents in the offseason and the team’s offense will be breaking into a new quarterback. That said, Florida has won 11 straight games against Tennessee and the Gators proved they can hang tough in games if their defense comes up big. So, with a bit of some luck (injuries, suspensions and all), the Gators could end up running the East once again, unlikely as it seems right now.