SEC East: 2015 Preview
The SEC East is the little brother to the conference's powerful West, but the race to advance to Atlanta and play for the SEC championship should still have its moments.
Besides, strangely wonderful things can happen in a one-game showdown.
It could well be that the Tennessee Volunteers will be the ones to do it:
Georgia has sophomore running back Nick Chubb leading the way. He shared carries with Todd Gurley last season and is an Heisman Trophy candidate this year, which makes the Bulldogs favorites to win the division.
However, Georgia has crossover games against both Alabama and Auburn, while Missouri gets Mississippi State and Arkansas and Tennessee plays Arkansas and Alabama. The key to the Bulldogs' season is new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's surprise pick of Greyson Lambert as his starting quarterback.
Missouri was hit hard by graduation, but coach Gary Pinkel always has the Tigers in contention.
Maty Mauk is back running the Tigers offense while Russell Hansbrough will get the bulk of the carries. The defense is young but talented and if it comes around, will help the Tigers get to a big bowl game.
Tennessee is rapidly improving under coach Butch Jones. Joshua Dobbs returns at quarterback while Jalen Hurd should get most of the carries. The Vols were, by Jones's estimate, the youngest team in the Power Five last season (odds are that distinction will go to Washington in 2015). With an impressive 2014 campaign under their respective belts, expectations at Rocky Top are high.
And the Volunteers do get Georgia at home this season on 10 October.
South Carolina finished 7-6 last season, so Steve Spurrier expects major improvements in 2015.
Connor Mitch will be the quarterback and has a good wide receiver in Pharoh Cooper. The Gamecocks' defense will have to improve for them to be a factor in 2015, because their schedule rough with trips to Georgia, Missouri, Texas A&M, and Tennessee.
Kentucky and Vanderbilt bring up the bottom of the league but the Wildcats are 'way ahead of the Commodores right now. Kentucky was 5-7 last season, while Vandy didn't win a conference game and finished 3-9 overall.
Mark Stoops believes there will be a jump in the Wildcats' improvement this season, especially with the upside QB Patrick Towles teased Big Blue Nation with in 2014. The Wildcats also have Stan Williams to run the ball and Ryan Timmons to catch it.
The defense is getting better, but they're still a work in progress, so the Cats may be a year away from becoming a true player in the division.
Hard to believe, given his material, but Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason is already on the hot seat in just his second season. Between the rape convictions by ex-football players and a paucity of talent, the Commodores may just go 0-8 again in the league this season.
Ralph Webb is the best offensive player, and it's a stretch to say the defense is decent.
Like most of Power Five football anymore, it'll be October before this division starts rocking. But when it does, the entertainment value could reach 11.