Auburn Leads Early SEC West Division Rankings
There's simply no other division in the country that boasts such an assortment of talent like SEC West does.
And although we're still several months away from the start of a new college football season, spring games around the SEC have given us a better idea of where specific teams currently stand, and more importantly, what those teams need to do to reach the next level.
We've already predicted how things will play out in the SEC East, so now it's time to turn our attention to the much more difficult SEC West.
Let's run down the way too early rankings for this division.
1. Auburn Tigers
The only way for Gus Malzahn to top his first season as head coach of the Tigers is to win the national championship in 2015. Thanks to a loaded roster, that's certainly a possible. Quarterback Nick Marshall returns to lead what should be yet another ridiculously good Malzahn offense, which will once again revolve around the running game. But it may be Auburn's defense that surprises everyone, as the Tigers have a plethora of talent coming back.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
It's safe to say that the biggest problem area for the Crimson Tide heading into the new season is at quarterback. Bama's spring game left a lot to be desired at the QB position, with Blake Sims and Cooper Bateman failing to impress. If Florida State transfer Jacob Coker can play at a higher level and win the starting job, then all will be well. There are still some concerns in the secondary, but Nick Saban should have this team competing for a national title once again.
3. LSU Tigers
Like several teams in the SEC, LSU's toughest task will be replacing its star quarterback. Zach Mettenberger really came along last season under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and LSU fans are hoping that the same will happen for quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris. Defensively though, there are still some holes that need to be filled before the season kicks off in August.
4. Ole Miss Rebels
It was very tempting to put Ole Miss at number three because of what should be an excellent defense. Combine that with the fact that an improved Bo Wallace returns for another season under center, and this team could surprise a lot of people in the fall. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has huge playmaker potential, and if everything clicks on offense, Hugh Freeze might have the total package in Oxford next season.
5. Mississippi State Bulldogs
We'e already discussed Dak Prescott's potential to lead the Bulldogs even higher up the rankings, but it's more about the level of the competition than Mississippi State's overall talent. This will be an extremely talented team in 2014, however, the schedule may once again be the biggest issue. Road games at Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss are pretty daunting, but luckily, the Bulldogs draw the two weakest teams (Vanderbilt and Kentucky) on the SEC East side.
6. Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies are due for a major step back thanks to the departures of Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans. While Texas A&M might still have playmakers, there's no way they can match the production of those two. The defense should be a little better, but honestly, that's not saying much considering how bad it was last season. The Aggies may struggle to make a bowl game.
7. Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas is still a year or two away from gaining any ground in the SEC West. The Razorbacks don't have the pieces to be able to win right now, but there's no doubting the fact that the team is getting better under Bret Bielema. If Brandon Allen can continue to make strides at quarterback, it will help speed up the rebuilding process.
How do you see the SEC West playing out in 2014? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow FanIQ College Football or myself on Twitter!