MAs much as everyone keeps on talking about Georgia, the brutal fact is this: Georgia hasn’t won a SEC title since 2005. Since Georgia’s last SEC title, Florida has won two of them. Georgia hasn’t been to Atlanta since 2012, while Florida have been to the last two.

Florida’s also won the last three Cocktail Parties against Georgia.

So who’s going to win the SEC East?

  1. Florida — Georgia might have the tailbacks, but Florida brings back a hell of a lot of experience on the receiving front, with Antonio Callaway leading the way. If Callaway can keep his nose (and lungs) clean, then the Gators have an excellent WR who had 721 yards and 3 TDs last year. If Dre Massey can also be 100%, then Florida’s really dangerous. And despite all the talk about Malik Zaire starting as quarterback, it seems as though Feleipe Franks has started in Jim McElwain’s good graces, kicking off the season’s practices with the first-team offense. And if the offensive line can play beyond expectations and keep Franks/Zaire alive, the Gators could be exciting. Oh, and while we’re mentioning exciting, things are going to be interesting with the Gators defense. New DC Randy Shannon is a fantastic hire by McElwain, and he should have some solid returnees in DE Cece Jefferson, safeties Nick Washington and  Marcell Harris. But will they be OK after losing 8 starters? Florida’s schedule sees the Gators play Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M and Florida State at home, and Michigan and Georgia in neutral site venues. These Gators could shine. PREDICTION: 10-2 (losses to FSU and LSU)
  2. Georgia — It must be because Athens is pretty close to the SEC Network’s base in Atlanta, but everyone’s – again – drooling about the Bulldogs. OK, I GET that Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are one of the best running back combinations in the SEC. Although please name in a season where both players have managed to get through the whole season unimpeded by injury. Eljah Holyfield has been named as an exciting prospect if when one gets injured. Quarterbacks-wise, everyone with a red shirt will talk your ear off about Jacob Eason, and we know he has the skills. But get this: He’s still got a young offensive line, and his biggest piece of receiving talent has gone in Isaiah McKenzie, who at times lived up to his nickname as the ‘Human Joystick’. Terry Godwin and Riley Ridley will have a lot of slack to pick up. Defensively, Trenton Thompson (58 tackles, 5 sacks) and LB Davin Ballamy can be stars alongside a defensive line which is will be one the best in the nation. The biggest problem for UGA is a nasty schedule which sees them go to Notre Dame, Tennessee, Auburn and play a tricky Mississippi State team who has the kind of quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald to exploit their secondary. PREDICTION: 10-2 (losses to Auburn and Florida, meaning Florida goes to SEC Championship Game.
  3. Missouri — This could be a very good team, but then again, this also could be a very bad one. The returners are potential stars, with QB Drew Lock, RBs Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter and there’s a star in there in J’Mon Moore, who led all SEC receivers by averaging 84.4 per game. However, Moore dropped EIGHTEEN catches (that’s 22.5% of all balls thrown his way). He’s claimed a new focus, but we’ll have to see. Defensively, Missouri’s going to have to stop the rot. With Charles Harris now gone, the pressure’s going to be on former five-star prospect Terry Beckner Jr, who has struggled with injuries ever since he’s arrived in Columbia. He could be a frightening prospect for opposing offensive lines – especially if Marcell Frazier can get back to his best. Mizzou brings back an experienced linebacking corps who SHOULD improve from 2016. Schedule-wise, things aren’t easy with trips to Georgia, Kentucky and Arkansas, and the home games to Auburn, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee are hardly gimmes either. PREDICTION: 8-4
  4. Tennessee —- If he doesn’t succeed, 2017 might be Butch Jones’ last at Rocky Top. Unfortunately for Jones, he’ll have to replace some studs to save his job. QB Joshua Dobbs, top RB Alvin Kamara, top WR Josh Malone, top CB Cam Sutton, top DEs Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen have all left Knoxville. That’s a lot of talent. And to make matters worse, QB Quinten Dormady – who’s seen as the potential starter – isn’t highly thought-of in the least, although WRs Jauan Jennings and Josh Smith and TE Ethan Wolf could cause problems. They’ll also be helped by an O-Line which is one of the most solid in the conference. However, the defensive losses are massive. Barnett and Vereen’s losses take 75% of last year’s sack production. The schedule is evil, with trips to Florida and Alabama as well as home games against Georgia and  LSU. They could well go 0-4 in those games. The trips to Kentucky and Missouri won’t be easy either.  PREDICTION: 6-6 (And Butch Jones gets fired after the season ends)
  5. South Carolina — People are actually pretty excited about Gamecocks football this season. After finishing 6-7, Carolina returns with a quarterback who came in under-the-radar for the second half of the year, starting seven games, going 4-3, and throwing for 1,420 yards and 9 TDs and 4 INTs. That’s Jake Bentley. Deebo Samuel (WR) and Hayden Hurst (TE) are both receivers who cause trouble for anyone’s secondary. Speaking of secondaries, the Gamecocks return five out of their top six DBs, led by the CB trio of Jamarcus King, Chris Lammons and Rashad Fenton. The big issue for them is a nasty schedule, in which they go to Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Missouri. They’ve also got a local rival who may have won the National Championship at home. They’ll be happy to go 3-2 in that space. Which we don’t think they will. PREDICTION: 5-7.
  6. Kentucky — Everyone seems to be tipping Kentucky for magnificent things this season, but I’m not convinced. The defense – which was horrible against the rush last season (110th in the FBS, giving up 228.2 yards/game at 5.15 per rush) doesn’t really improve, and they are in a conference where rushing is a big component. Their schedule – they face Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Louisville, Ole Miss, Missouri and Arkansas (amongst others) will feature teams who will try and test them. If they can improve, good things will help. Stephen Johnson is an excellent QB and WRs Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker could cause defenses problems. But I’m sorry, I’m not sold. PREDICTION: 5-7 (Win over Ole Miss makes life better pulls people back on Mark Stoops bandwagon)
  7. Vanderbilt — I want to point this out: I really like Derek Mason, Vanderbilt’s head coach. He seems like the sort of head coach who would actually suspend a starter if they were arrested black-out drunk at the driver’s seat of his car, whatever the game they had to start the new season. You know, unlike another guys we could mention. But that doesn’t mean I think they are going to be great. Here’s why: They’ve lost a ton of talent on the offensive line and they aren’t bringing it back. The poor offensive line – against formidable defensive competition – is going to hurt Davis Webb, Vandy’s QB. If that doesn’t work, then it’s going to be a long old season. Defensively, saying goodbye to the excellent Zach Cunningham is going to be a big blow. The schedule is nasty with games against Alabama and Ole Miss, and they’ll have to go to The Swamp and to Tennessee. Otherwise, the Dores play UGA, Missouri and Kentucky at home. PREDICTION: 4-8 (Although they’ll score a stunning win over Kansas State).
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