We are only three weeks in to the 2013 season, but the dominoes are already starting to fall in the Southeastern Conference. Here is a look at how the teams in the conference stack up.
1. Alabama (2-0, 1-0 SEC)- The Crimson Tide have picked up right where they left off this season, shutting down Virginia Tech in week one and winning a shootout against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. It is still early, and there will be a few teams in the SEC who will have something to say about it, but the Tide look like they will be playing for their fourth championship in five years come January.
2. LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC)- LSU has blown through their first three games so far. After picking up a good win over TCU to start the year, the Tigers took care of business against UAB and Kent State. What makes the Tigers so scary this season is that it appears they will have the balance offensively that they have struggled to find in the past few years. Zach Mettenberger has blossomed and will give LSU a legitimate passing attack to complement the ground game.
3. Georgia (1-1, 1-0 SEC)- Georgia faced the toughest start of any team in the country, going to Clemson in week one and hosting South Carolina in week two. They split against the teams from the Palmetto State, but most importantly for the ‘Dawgs, they handed the Gamecocks an SEC loss and are now in the the driver’s seat in the SEC East. Mark Richt and his team could be playing in their third straight SEC Championship game this season.
4. Texas A&M (2-1, 0-1 SEC)- The 12th Man did not make a difference against Alabama, but all is not lost for Texas A&M. The Aggies will likely have the most potent offense in the conference this season, led by the controversial Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel. While they no longer have a direct path to Atlanta, the team still has plenty to play for and will be a tough out for any team in the nation.
5. Ole Miss (3-0, 1-0 SEC)- Ole Miss is poised to be the surprise team in the SEC this season. After an encouraging first year under Hugh Freeze that led to a highly-ranked recruiting class, the Rebels have made big strides this season, beating Vanderbilt in a shootout in week 1 and dismantling a fading Texas team in week 3. No one is predicting championships this season, but Freeze has the Rebels headed in the right direction.
6. South Carolina (2-1, 1-1 SEC)- The Gamecocks have not been thoroughly impressive to start the season, but make no mistake that they are contenders for the East crown. Mike Davis has been great so far, and Connor Shaw‘s game seems to be improved. One thing to watch for is the health of Jadeveon Clowney, who elected not to have surgery for bone spurs in his foot.
7. Florida (1-1, 0-0 SEC)- The Gators are in an odd spot for them, already having one loss before their annual matchup with Tennessee. Florida was off in week 3, but they lost to Miami (FL) in week 2. Their defense looks stout as always, but the Jeff Driskel-led offense has sputtered so far. If the Gators want to contend for the East again, the offense will have to take huge strides.
8. Auburn (3-0, 1-0 SEC)- The Gus Malzahn era is off and running. The Tigers have already matched their win total from last season, and the week 3 win over Mississippi State exceeds their conference win total from all of last season. If Nick Marshall can continue to grow into the quarterback position, the Tigers will be nothing to scoff at.
9. Missouri (2-0, 0-0 SEC)- Missouri begins its second season in the SEC with one distinct advantage they never had last season: they are healthy. Although the competition has been weak, the Tigers look more like the team that went bowling seven straight years before coming to the SEC. If quarterback James Franklin can stay healthy and former five star recruit Dorial Green-Beckham can emerge, look for Mizzou to go bowling again. If not, Gary Pinkel could be looking for a new job.
10. Arkansas (3-0, 0-0 SEC)- Gone are the days of Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson. Bret Bielema brought the smashmouth style he employed at Wisconsin to Fayetteville with him, and so far it has worked. The schedule has been light, but so far running backs Johnathan Williams and Alex Collins have rushed for over 100 yards each in all three games. They aren’t the second coming of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, but if they continue to produce all season, the Razorbacks could sneak in to a bowl.
11. Tennessee (2-1, 0-0 SEC)- Tennessee came down to earth against Oregon in week three, and it seems that game has left more questions than answers. In the team’s biggest defeat in over 100 years, nearly every unit of the team performed poorly. With questions surrounding the defense and passing game, it is important for the Vols to have a good showing against Florida in week four. The schedule is not in the Vols favor, but thankfully for Tennessee, they will not face another offense like Oregon’s the rest of the year.
12. Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-2 SEC)- Year three under James Franklin just does not seem to have the same promise for the Commodores. Vandy lost a heartbreaker in week 1 to Ole Miss, and they spotted South Carolina four touchdowns before putting anything on the board in week 3. Vanderbilt will have to claw its way back if they want to make their third bowl appearance in a row. Without a break or two, they may be back at the bottom of the SEC standings at season’s end.
13. Mississippi State (1-2, 0-1 SEC)- Things are not looking good in Starkville. The team collapsed at the end of last season, and they haven’t been able to pick themselves up off the mat yet. Quarterback Tyler Russell has been injured, but there just doesn’t appear to be many wins left on the schedule for the Bulldogs. If Russell cannot come back and make a real difference soon, the Dan Mullen era could be over.
14. Kentucky (1-2, 0-0 SEC)- The Wildcats, who are off in week four, cannot even claim to be the second best team in Kentucky. After dropping games to Western Kentucky and Louisville, the ‘Cats have already dug themselves a hole before they have even opened up SEC play. There is a good chance the Mark Stoops era begins the same way the Joker Phillips era ended: winless in SEC games.