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SEC Football Preview 2014: Projecting Old Faces in Old Places in December

Team Speed Kills' Christopher Novak offers up his projections for the Southeastern Conference in the 2014 season, culminating with what should be a stellar showdown in Atlanta.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Picking games and making projections for the SEC can be as difficult as it gets. As evident by our previous season, the Auburn Tigers and Missouri Tigers made the 2013 SEC Championship Game and even the most diehard fans on College and Magnolia and in CoMO could have never in their wildest of dreams imagined that matchup occurring.

So with what's sure to be another zany and exciting season, here are my projections for this upcoming year in the SEC.

SEC East

Team Record
South Carolina Gamecocks (11-1) (7-1)
Georgia Bulldogs (10-2) (6-2)
Missouri Tigers (9-3) (5-3)
Florida Gators (8-4) (5-3)
Tennessee Volunteers (5-7) (2-6)
Vanderbilt Commodores (5-7) (1-7)
Kentucky Wildcats (2-10) (0-8)

  • The biggest domino to fall in this SEC East race will be in the second game of the season for both Georgia and South Carolina. As it has been for several years, this matchup in Columbia, South Carolina will certainly provide a tilt in the sprint to Atlanta. I have the Gamecocks protecting their home turf in that matchup, and only picking up just one loss on their season: their trip to Auburn.
  • Georgia could very well start off the season 0-2 if they flop Between the Hedges in their Week 1 game against the Clemson Tigers. Revenge is the name of the game though, and I could foresee a huge performance from Todd Gurley to avenge their Week 1 loss to the other Tigers from Death Valley if all goes well. Speaking of revenge, the last time that Georgia went to Columbia, Missouri, "Old Man Football" and "Grown Man Football" were in a heated tug o'war, and it was the Dawgs who came out on top. This time? Missouri will get the duke.
  • Speaking of Mizzou, they find themselves rebounding off of an incredible 2013 campaign with a very solid 2014 season. The stretch of at South Carolina, hosting Georgia, and then at Florida is your "make or break" situation for the Tigers this year. I have them projected at 1-2 in that slot, with losses in Columbia and Gainesville. The secondary, wide receivers and, frankly, the play of quarterback Maty Mauk (who had a completion percentage of just 51.1 percent last year while James Franklin was injured) are all question marks going into the year. That said, their run game and defensive line look great.
  • It could not be worse for Florida in 2014 than it was in 2013. That's my mindset when projecting how this team will fare this year. For the Gators' sake, many of their big matchups are in The Swamp, with meetings against LSU Tigers, Missouri and South Carolina scheduled. That said, the annual matchup with Georgia in Jacksonville, and trips to Tuscaloosa and Tallahassee do not bode well for this team at all. Still, Will Muschamp's job should be saved, and the Gators should be going bowling again.
  • As for the rest of the pack... Tennessee's best chance to be bowl eligible might be their matchup against Florida... year one without James Franklin for Vanderbilt could be one to forget... and Kentucky, unfortunately, is staring at another uphill battle.

SEC West

Team Record
Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0) (8-0)
Auburn Tigers (10-2) (6-2)
LSU Tigers (9-3) (5-3)
Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4) (4-4)
Ole Miss Rebels (8-4) (4-4)
Texas A&M Aggies (7-5) (3-5)
Arkansas Razorbacks (4-8) (0-8)
  • Alabama had a disappointing end to their dominating run through the college football world last year. But fear not Crimson Tide fans, as Alabama could very well be back with a vengeance in 2014. The combination of Blake Sims, T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry, and Amari Cooper could be a Dangerous Alliance that Paul Heyman himself would be proud of. And should Sims falter, Jacob Coker is waiting in the wings, and he's had all sorts of high praise. With any luck, and with arguably the best coach in America on the sidelines, Alabama could run the table again.
  • Speaking of luck, the 2013 Auburn Tigers sure had a lot of luck, didn't they? That notwithstanding, College & Magnolia's finest are looking talented again. It's not a stretch at all to say that the 2014 Iron Bowl could very well be dubbed as "The Biggest Iron Bowl in History" ... for the second consecutive year. The Tigers and Nick Marshall just fall short of getting back to Atlanta, after a less than stellar trip to both Athens and Tuscaloosa to put blemishes on an otherwise pristine season.
  • We have ourselves a good ol' logjam in the race for 3rd place in the SEC West Division. LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are both looking awfully good this year, with Bo Wallace and Dak Prescott leading the charge. However, they both face the unenviable task of going into Death Valley, and Baton Rouge's Bayou Bengals await them. LSU, despite reloading (once more) should find themselves comfortably seated in 3rd place with tiebreakers over Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Speaking of which, the much sought after Egg Bowl will be won by the Rebels. You heard it here first.
  • The Aggies will certainly be missing Johnny Football... and regrettably, Bret Bielema's Razorbacks will stumble yet again.

SEC Championship Game

Alabama 27 South Carolina 23