As college football’s season is set roll on on Thursday night, we’re about set to start the SEC campaign. And with that in mind, it’s time for the first edition of the 2016 Team Speed Kills Power Rankings! Votes were tabulated by the members of the Team Speed Kills staff over the past few days, and we’ve reached a verdict.
Away we go...
14. South Carolina Gamecocks
(Score: 13.375; Highest Vote: 11)
There was no consensus anywhere in this field, as amazing as that sounds, but checking in at the bottom of the pile is the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks received two votes for 11th in the conference, but received a slew of votes for last place which wound up doing them in. With uncertainties and lots of rebuilding, Will Muschamp may have his hands full in 2016.
13. Vanderbilt Commodores
(Score: 12.18; Highest Vote: 10)
Votes varied for Vanderbilt as they received two last-place votes but were picked as high as 10th in the conference with a few 11’s, 12’s, and 13’s scattered about. We can agree that there’s plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball but offensively the team remains a mystery. Sure enough, they will be taking on the last-place Gamecocks on Thursday night in the first intra-conference matchup of the season.
12. Kentucky Wildcats
(Score: 12.12; Highest Vote: 10)
A thin margin between the ‘Cats and the ‘Dores wound up on UK’s side of the coin. Kentucky received no vote lower than 13th which helped their stock and received two votes for 10th-place. The Wildcats have a chance to go bowling if the schedule pans out the way that they’d like it to and if our hot seat rankings indicate anything, Mark Stoops may have to make something happen in Lexington.
11. Missouri Tigers
(Score: 11.56; Highest Vote: 10)
Mizzou’s ballot pitted them here at No. 11 with several votes ranging from 11 and 12 to as low as 13, which was only accounted for once. They went as high as 10 - two TSK staffers picked them 10th - to slot them here in the bottom tier. Another loaded defense, headed by Charles Harris, should cause disruption for their opponents but it all comes down to how the offense plays just like last year. Drew Lock and new head coach Barry Odom will be hoping for more success than what they reaped a year ago.
10. Auburn Tigers
(Score: 10; Highest Vote: 8)
The Auburn Tigers featured votes ranging from 8th to as low as 12th, divided on down to 10th in the SEC. Gus Malzahn might be in some trouble if the Tigers can’t put together a good season this year and although they have such players like Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams, there is a decent chunk to worry about. They’ll have an early test against Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers on Saturday night, and may need all that luck they scored back in 2013 to prove to be a threat that night.
9. Mississippi State Bulldogs
(Score: 9.31; Highest Vote: 7)
The Mississippi State Bulldogs weren’t too far from the Auburn Tigers on the rungs. The Bulldogs scored a 9.45 average to slot them ninth among the 14 teams in the SEC, receiving no vote higher than seventh and no vote lower than 12th. The Bulldogs will look to replace lots including their prized quarterback Dak Prescott. With expectations tempered a bit in Starkville, perhaps they will thrive without much pressure, but in the loaded SEC West, don’t expect it to be too easy.
8. Arkansas Razorbacks
(Score: 8; Highest Vote: 7)
Arkansas, like Mississippi State, will be replacing quarterbacks this season as Brandon Allen departed Fayetteville. The Razorbacks also lost lots of skill position players including Alex Collins to the NFL as well as tight end Hunter Henry. It will be intriguing to say the least how Bret Bielema and the Hogs fare in the SEC West again, and as it stands, expectations seem to fall within the middle of the pack.
7. Florida Gators
(Score: 6.06; Highest Vote: 4)
The defending SEC East Champs find themselves in the middle of the pack here to start the season in the power rankings. The Gators received a highest vote of fourth place in the power rankings, two to be precise, and received votes as low as eight in the conference. With some reshuffling at the quarterback position and a few key players having departed Gainesville it might be difficult sledding for them in an improved SEC East. With that said, we’ll see how things shake out for Jim McElwain & Co.
6. Texas A&M Aggies
(Score: 6.18; Highest Vote: 4)
There’s no questioning whether Texas A&M has talent as that’s likely why they find themselves above Florida and a host of others here to start the season. The Aggies have one of the best receiving corps in the nation highlighted by the sensational Christian Kirk, and one of the best defensive players in the country in Myles Garrett. Whether the Aggies, and Kevin Sumlin, can put it together is the question. A&M is pretty boom-or-bust this year, with votes scoring as high as fourth and as low as ninth place, and will have an early chance to get a big win this Saturday when they host the UCLA Bruins.
5. Georgia Bulldogs
(Score: 5.31; Highest Vote: 3)
A new coach in Athens doesn’t seem to change many of the expectations at Georgia as TSK starts them off near the top of the charts at No. 5. The Bulldogs received one third-place vote but mostly 5’s and 6’s, with the lowest vote coming in at 7th. Nick Chubb will be returning after a devastating knee injury last season and along with Sony Michel should prove to be one of the most explosive backfields in the conference. All eyes will be on Kirby Smart to see if the longtime Alabama defensive coordinator can adjust quickly to being a head coach.
4. Ole Miss Rebels
(Score: 4.06; Highest Vote: 3)
Chad Kelly and the Ole Miss Rebels find themselves just outside the Top 3 despite receiving five third-place votes from the TSK staff. The votes that were as low as six kept them from supplanting the third-place team in the power rankings as the thoughts on the Rebels seem to be wavering a bit. They will have to do plenty of replacing on both sides of the ball after many departures to the NFL this past offseason, and how quickly they can do that will impact how they fare in 2016.
3. Tennessee Volunteers (1)
The hype train has left the station in Knoxville as Tennessee is the highest-ranked team from the SEC East in the inaugural power rankings. The Volunteers return a host of talented players including the likes of Jalen Hurd, Josh Dobbs, Cameron Sutton and Derek Barnett whom are all poised to help attempt to get the Vols back to Atlanta for the first time since 2007. They will be under the microscope all season, and speaking of which, theirs begins Thrusday night against Appalachian State.
2. LSU Tigers (4)
Receiving four first-place votes and checking in at No. 2 in the power rankings is LSU. The Tigers received no vote worse than third as the talent on the team has appeared to have resonated with the TSK staff and how they chose to vote for them. Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Tre’Davious White and Malachi Dupre are just some of the names you will familiarize yourself this season as Les Miles will be heading an important season in Baton Rouge.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11)
The reigning, defending SEC champions and National Champ checks in at No. 1. Alabama received 10 first-place votes and was not ranked lower than third in the initial vote for the power rankings. The Tide bring back a slew of talented defensive players, and on offense, the likes of OJ Howard and Calvin Ridley are still around to give whomever starts at quarterback plenty of game-breaking opportunities.