Projecting the final SEC standings

Even with all the QB turnover, the favorite to win the SEC is still Alabama

Originally Published: August 18, 2014
By Phil Steele | ESPN Insider

Jacob Coker 140806AP Photo/Alabama Media Group, Vasha HuntJake Coker will have the help of a lethal supporting cast in his first year under center.

The SEC has dominated college football over the past decade, and while the league's streak of seven straight BCS championships came to an end last year, it wasn't without a fight. The Auburn Tigers had one of the most remarkable turnarounds in college football history, going from an 0-8 SEC season to an SEC title -- and 13 seconds away from a BCS title in Gus Malzahn's first year as coach.

This year will be one of transition for many teams in the conference, as far as quarterback play goes. In 2013, five SEC QBs ranked in the top 12 in the NCAA in pass efficiency, but all five of those passers departed. So this year's road to Atlanta could come down to who wins the battles in the trenches, and no team is better equipped to do that than coach Nick Saban's squad.

Here are my projected final SEC standings:


SEC West

1. Alabama Crimson Tide


Projected record: 12-0
Early lines on toughest matchups: at Ole Miss (minus-4), at LSU (minus-3)

Alabama has won three national titles under Saban, two of them with first-year starting QBs. Jake Coker gets the benefit of my No. 1 set of RBs, my No. 2 WRs unit and my No. 8 O-line. And each of Bama's defensive units is top-10. As for the schedule, it could be bumpy. The Tide have been favored in 54 straight games coming into '14, which is tied with FSU (1997-2001) for the longest streak in the past 20 years. I have the Crimson Tide favored in every game, but three are by only single digits (at Ole Miss, at LSU and Auburn), with the trip to Baton Rouge being the shortest odds.

Phil Steele

ESPN Insider