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Previews 2015: Kentucky Wildcats

Previews 2015: Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky is on pace to possibly be one of the most improved teams in the SEC – but its record may not reflect that. The Wildcats are still relatively far behind many of its SEC East peers in terms of overall talent. And there are still questions as to the direction Mark Stoops has the Wildcats traveling: Can Kentucky compete in the SEC running an Air Raid offense and lacking in defensive athleticism? History would say no, but Stoops is certainly trying to find out.

Previews 2015: Georgia Bulldogs

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Previews 2015: Georgia Bulldogs

One of these years, Georgia is finally going to find a way to put it all together. It just might have to require a change in head coaches, though. The Bulldogs have underachieved consistently under Mark Richt, and being out front in the preseason is a dangerous place to be for Georgia. That’s where the Bulldogs again find themselves, picked by some – including this service – to run the table in the SEC. The schedule sets up nicely for Georgia, with back-to-back games against Alabama and Tennessee being the real challenge. On the field, Georgia must find a quarterback and solidify its defensive line.

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Previews 2015: Florida Gators

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Previews 2015: Florida Gators

While most people believe it’s just a matter of time before Florida reascends to the top of the SEC East – with a recruiting advantage like the one UF possesses, it’s not an unreasonable expectation – the Gators are currently in a big hole of their own making. The Will Muschamp hire turned out to be a grave mistake for Jeremy Foley, and now he has turned from one former Nick Saban assistant to another: former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who arrives from Colorado State with the reputation of an offensive whiz and motivational mastermind. But he isn’t a top-flight recruiter, and the lack of player development under Muschamp will cause Florida some headaches in 2015.

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Previews 2015: Texas A&M Aggies

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Previews 2015: Texas A&M Aggies

How far the Aggies go in 2015 will be determined by how quickly new defensive coordinator John Chavis can right the ship. The Aggies have never lacked for offense since joining the SEC, but their built-for-the-Big-12 defense just can’t cut it. In addition to Chavis, head coach Kevin Sumlin finally seems to be getting serious about allocating assets to the defensive side of the ball. The Aggies might also find themselves better on offense simply by getting rid of Kenny Hill, who had become a distraction there. Texas A&M will put up a ton of points, but can the Aggies keep opposing offenses from doing the same?

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Previews 2015: Mississippi State Bulldogs

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Previews 2015: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State overachieved greatly in 2014, in the process solidifying Dan Mullen’s hold on the head coaching position in Starkville – and, unfortunately, lifting future expectations. As often happens with Mississippi State, success does not appear to be sustainable. The Bulldogs simply haven’t recruited consistently enough to remain in the SEC’s upper echelon, and had its starting quarterback not elected to return to school, State would be staring a losing record in the face. As is, the Bulldogs will do well to get back to the postseason.

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Previews 2015: Ole Miss Rebels

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Previews 2015: Ole Miss Rebels

Relative to talent, there has probably not been a team fall short of expectations as spectacularly as Ole Miss has done it over the past couple of years. Ole Miss lost two of its last three games in 2014 by a combined score of 72-3, failing to achieve offensive balance or take advantage of several packed recruiting classes. The window isn’t closing yet for Ole Miss, but uncertainty in the offensive backfield makes the Rebels vulnerable. Most of the uncertainty, though, falls back to a coaching staff that is starting to take some heat for its choices.

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Previews 2015: LSU Tigers

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Previews 2015: LSU Tigers

Despite being a tough out against most any opponent, LSU also finds itself carrying the banner of the SEC’s most underachieving team in recent years. No team holds a significant talent advantage over the Tigers, but LSU has found itself unable to crack the upper echelon of the SEC West ever since Alabama defeated the Tigers in the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans. This year, LSU finds itself in familiar territory – a lot of talented pieces, but with questions at quarterback and about its offensive philosophy. And now, LSU is minus John Chavis, its longtime defensive guru.

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Previews 2015: Auburn Tigers

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Previews 2015: Auburn Tigers

Auburn is probably the most puzzling team in the SEC heading into 2015. The Tigers return only 11 starters as a whole and are rebuilding the defense, but at the same time, several pundits have Auburn as a darkhorse national championship contender. What one thinks of Auburn basically breaks down to what one thinks of Gus Malzahn and his ability to continue to innovate on offense. Purely from an analytical standpoint, Auburn has very good overall talent, but there are pockets of weakness here and there. Auburn’s schedule could swing wildly, from as low as 7-5 to as many as 10 or 11 wins.

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Previews 2015: Arkansas Razorbacks

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Previews 2015: Arkansas Razorbacks

Bret Bielema’s second-year success was as important for his future as it was Arkansas’. Bielema led Arkansas to a 6-6 record and then a dominating bowl win over old Southwest Conference rival Texas, giving some credence to the idea that old-school football might still have a place in the SEC. Arkansas will be boring, but probably effective. The offense is one of the most experienced in the SEC, but the defense, which overachieved in 2014, was gutted by the graduation cycle.

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Previews 2015: Alabama Crimson Tide

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Previews 2015: Alabama Crimson Tide

The Crimson Tide is hoping to ride a defense that might have 11 upperclassman starters to a title in 2015, but doing so will require a fast rebuild on the offensive side of the ball, not to mention navigating a schedule that many deem to be the most difficult in the nation. Other challenges include a spotty situation at placekicker and the shuffling of coaching personnel, primarily on defense.

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