SEC East: At Least Everyone's Healthy for Now
The Bulldogs -- who defeated the Gamecocks last year but were ravaged by injuries as the season progressed -- have to replace all-everything quarterback Aaron Murray, but Hutson Mason is a capable replacement. Todd Gurley, if healthy, could be the best running back in the league, and Mason has a good group of receivers. Georgia lost some tough games last season, but if they remain healthy, last years' 8-5 disappointment could easily progress to 10-3 or 11-2 this year.
South Carolina is still looking for a shot at the national championship, and they have a favorable home schedule that might aid the cause this season. Texas A&M, Georgia, and Missouri visit Columbia this year. Steve Spurrier has got to believe that gives them an edge in earning a berth in the SEC championship game. Dylan Thompson will be the full-time quarterback this year, and his offensive line is very good. Mike Davis hopes to surpass the 1000-yard mark in rushing this season, and if he does, the Gamecocks will be right there at the end of the season.
Missouri won the divison in 2013 before losing to Auburn in the conference title game. The Tigers return Maty Mauk at quarterback but will be inexperienced elsewhere and thin on defense. Mizzou has an easy non-conference schedule, but their SEC road stops are demanding, to say the least, with trips to South Carolina, Florida, Texas A&M, and Tennessee.
Florida had its worst season in 35 years, and coach Will Muschamp is officially on the hot seat. The Gators have talent but need to stay healthy to become a contender again after last season's 4-8 disaster. Florida made changes to their coaching staff and will need quarterback Jeff Driskell to stay healthy to become a contender again.
Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky will have to beat each other if they expect any SEC wins.
Tennessee is on the rise under coach Butch Jones, but its schedule will make it hard to improve on last season's 5-7 record. The Vols play Oklahoma and have to travel to Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
Vanderbilt has to start over with a new coach, as Derek Mason takes over. The Commodores need to rebuild their offense and secondary and have a decent home schedule, but the loss of rising-star coach James Franklin will hurt. Vanderbilt may be stuck near the bottom of the division.
Mark Stoops is in Year Two at Kentucky. It looks like he'll need many more years to make Wildcat fans think about football instead of basketball. Kentucky was 2-10 last year and could be looking at 4-8 in 2014.
The game of the season in the SEC East could occur early, as Georgia travels to South Carolina on 13 September. If either of these teams falter, Florida gets South Carolina at home and Georgia at a neutral site for the annual World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville. Yes, the organizers ar trying to downplay that nickname these days, but those who attend it aren't.
Missouri will try to prove everyone wrong again, and if that's going to happen, their biggest three weeks of the season could be from 27 September through 18 October when the Tigers meet South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida consecutively with a bye mixed in.
If they falter during that span, they'll have another bye, as in waving goodbye to their division title.