Ranking a SEC’s Best Non-Alabama College Football Playoff Contenders

Alabama has reached a College Football Playoff in any of a 4 seasons given a format’s inception, and there’s a good possibility it’ll make a fifth coming this season. Despite environment an SEC record by carrying 12 players picked in this year’s NFL draft, 4 of that went in a initial round, a Crimson Tide move behind a boatload of talent from a patrol that went 13–1 and edged Georgia in a inhabitant championship game. They led many vital media outlets’ post-spring tip 25s, they substantially will enter Week 1 atop a vital polls and they should be in a brew for a No. 1 mark in a initial ranking a playoff releases in late October. At SEC media days this week, they perceived 193 out of a probable 285 media votes to win a discussion for a fifth time in 8 years.

Alabama really looks like a SEC’s strongest claimant to strech a CFP, though during slightest one other organisation from a discussion should be in row streamer into preference Sunday. With media days in a rearview and a new deteriorate only over a month away, we’re ranking a conference’s 5 teams with a next-best chances to make a playoff.

The Bulldogs’ outing to a inhabitant pretension diversion was not an anomaly. Entering a third deteriorate of his reign in Athens, conduct manager Kirby Smart has a recruiting bravery and sideline astuteness to contest during a tip of a SEC annually. That includes 2018, notwithstanding a departures of 6 NFL breeze picks, among them Butkus Award–winning linebacker Roquan Smith and a using behind tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. The Bulldogs’ using diversion should reason adult good even though Chubb and Michel. Sophomore D’Andre Swift heads adult a low organisation of backs that also includes incoming five-star awaiting Zamir White and incoming four-star awaiting James Cook, a younger hermit of former Florida State star Dalvin Cook.

Terry Godwin, who upheld on a breeze for a comparison season, will organisation with juniors Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley to give second-year starting quarterback Jake Fromm a dangerous organisation of pass catchers. The lapse of shutdown cornerback Deandre Baker was another large win for a Bulldogs deliberation how many they remove elsewhere on defense. Georgia does not need a rebuilding season; anything brief of double-digit wins and an East multiplication championship would be a disappointment, and a lapse to a inhabitant pretension diversion feels within reach.

The Tigers’ box as a playoff hazard starts with a defensive line that has a intensity to be a best in a country—other than Clemson’s—even after a depart of organisation sacks and tackles for detriment personality Jeff Holland. Juniors Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson and fifth-year comparison Dontavius Russell conduct a organisation with a ability to vacate using games and consistently request vigour to quarterbacks.

Auburn’s possess belligerent conflict won’t simply reinstate SEC Offensive Player of a Year Kerryon Johnson or say a using lanes first-team All-SEC ensure Braden Smith helped create, though Jarrett Stidham’s choice to come behind to propagandize rather than spin pro ensured that conduct manager Gus Malzahn would have one of a SEC’s premier passers underneath core for another season—he led subordinate QBs in a discussion with a 66.5% execution commission and posted a top potency rating during discussion play.

Plus, while a ripped ACLs suffered by youth Eli Stove and comparison Will Hastings in open use stung (both are approaching behind during some indicate in a season, though not by Week 1), there are adequate playmakers during far-reaching receiver that Stidham can use to indenture hostile secondaries, including comparison Ryan Davis, who set a module single-season record with 84 receptions final fall. Auburn’s multiple of high-level quarterback play and a inhuman defensive front creates a program’s initial CFP coming a picturesque goal. It also creates a Tigers a biggest challenger to Alabama in a West.

Joe Moorhead should not need a transition deteriorate in Starkville. It is not irrational to consider that he could use a up-tempo complement that towering him into a inhabitant spotlight as Penn State’s descent coordinator given 2016 to lift a Bulldogs to their many successful debate given 2014, when they rose to No. 1 in a AP Top 25 Poll after downing 3 top-10 opponents in period and finished with 10 wins.

The flourishing call of Mississippi State offseason hype—to that Sports Illustrated contributed by ranking it 17th in a post-spring top-25—is not only a product of Moorhead’s tactical chops. The Bulldogs will have one of a nation’s many fearsome defensive line tandems in youth tackle Jeffery Simmons and comparison finish Montez Sweat, a comparison tailback (Aeris Williams) who has tallied some-more than 1,800 yards on a belligerent over a past dual seasons and 4 returning starters on a descent line. Most importantly, a Bulldogs will have a means comparison quarterback who can obscure hostile defenses with his ability to both benefit chunks of yards on a belligerent and launch passes to wideouts in space. As prolonged as Fitzgerald has entirely recovered from a dislocated ankle he suffered in a Egg Bowl final season, Mississippi State should be means to pull Alabama and Auburn for an invitation to Atlanta.

The module that Moorhead’s prototype during Mississippi State, Dan Mullen, is holding over does not seem as good positioned to win large right divided as a Bulldogs are. Maybe a many critical on-field doubt confronting Mullen on his lapse to Gainesville is one that has bedeviled a Gators for many of a 8 seasons given Tim Tebow left campus: Is there a good quarterback on a roster?

Of a 3 vigilance callers set to contest for a starting pursuit in tumble camp—redshirt sophomores Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask and early enrollee loyal beginner Emory Jones—only one of them (Franks) has finished a pass in college. Whether or not Franks, Trask or Jones proves a arguable distributor in Mullen’s offense this season, Florida should be means to gaunt on a challenging using diversion headlined by redshirt youth Jordan Scarlett, youth Lamical Perine and sophomore Adarius Lemons (and presumably sophomore Malik Davis, depending on how his liberation from a season-ending knee damage progresses).

But if Mullen can’t operative a supernatural descent turnaround for Florida after a Gators finished final deteriorate ranked second-to-last in a SEC in yards per play and points per game, he and new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham can take comfort in a earnest delegate featuring a playmaking nickel behind (converted youth reserve Chauncey Gardner-Johnson) and a high-end cornerback twin (sophomores Marco Wilson and C.J. Henderson).

There are difference-makers for handsomely compensated defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to work with in a delegate (sophomore cornerback Greedy Williams), on a defensive line (junior finish Rashard Lawrence) and during linebacker (junior Devin White). New descent coordinator Steve Ensminger inherits a Big 12 far-reaching receiver send with a 1,158-yard deteriorate on his résumé (junior Jonathan Giles, from Texas Tech), an incoming WR partisan ranked third during his position in a category of 2018 according to a 247Sports Composite (Terrace Marshall Jr., from Parkway High in Louisiana) and a rival quarterback derby that combined a new member in May when desired Ohio State connoisseur send Joe Burrow announced he was headed to Baton Rouge.

LSU brings behind adequate pieces on both sides of a round to build on a entrance debate for conduct manager Ed Orgeron that saw a Tigers win 6 of their final 7 regular-season games and finish 9–4, though to strech a inhabitant semifinals, they’ll need to navigate a heartless report featuring a Sunday-night opener opposite reigning ACC Coastal champion Miami during ATT Stadium, trips to Auburn on Sept. 15 and Florida on Oct. 6 and a daunting three-game home widen in that meetings with a span of expected preseason top-10 teams (Georgia on Oct. 13, Alabama on Nov. 3) bookend a revisit from one expected preseason top-25 organisation (Mississippi State on Oct. 20).

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