Texas and Oklahoma are both joining the SEC.
That change won’t come into effect until 2022 at the earliest, and the current transition year isn’t even set until 2025. But with the Sooners and Longhorns both projected to have top 25 teams, I thought it would be fun to make some hypothetical SEC power rankings.
The rankings below are based solely off 2021 teams, not the future status of each program.
16. Vanderbilt Commodores
This one isn’t overly complicated. As much as many of us would love to see Vanderbilt climb any SEC power rankings list, the fact remains that the Commodores are the clear-cut bottom dwellers of the conference. Unfortunately, that holds true once again in 2021.
15. South Carolina Gamecocks
There are some out there who believe South Carolina could surprise us. Considering the 1-2 punch at running back with Kevin Harris and Mar’Shawn Lloyd — on top of an impressive, deep defensive front — I wouldn’t be shocked if they exceeded expectations. But I’m just not on board yet.
14. Tennessee Volunteers
There just isn’t much depth in Knoxville right now. There’s some talent, sure, but this league is built on depth. I can see Tennessee finishing with a better record than some of the teams in front of them, but that would be the result of playing in the East rather than the West. I guess it depends on how the divisions would be shaken up with the two new arrivals.
13. Arkansas Razorbacks
Surprisingly, I believe Arkansas will once again be a tough football team. You wouldn’t think it since I have them at No. 13, but that’s mostly due to the depth of the West. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Razorbacks got only 4-5 wins, but they’d be one of history’s better sub-.500 teams.
12. Mississippi State Bulldogs
If things finally click for Mike Leach’s offense, I could absolutely see Mississippi State finishing as a top 10 SEC team, even with Texas and Oklahoma in the mix. I like Will Rogers, and I love Jaden Walley. I’m just not ready to claim a significant leap in production. We’ll see.
11. Auburn Tigers
Auburn would be a top 10 SEC squad had it not been for the two additions. Unfortunately, their arrival would spell trouble for Bryan Harsin in his first season. The coaching staff is well put together, and there’s still plenty of talent on The Plains. At the end of the day, the success — or lack thereof — will come down to Bo Nix.
10. Missouri Tigers
In a league without Texas and Oklahoma, it wouldn’t shock me if Missouri finished second in the SEC East. With those two schools in the mix for these hypothetical power rankings, the Tigers still check in as a top 10 team in the SEC. Connor Bazelak doesn’t have a ton of talent around him, but that might not matter.
9. Florida Gators
Florida needs to be careful. After finishing with the third-best conference record and going to the SEC Championship Game in 2020, this team wouldn’t currently be in the top half of my 2021 conference power rankings, if Texas and Oklahoma were included.
8. Kentucky Wildcats
I love Kentucky’s makeup this season. Whether it’s Beau Allen, Will Levis or Joey Gatewood, I believe the Wildcats get improved quarterback play in 2021. Combine that with a veteran offensive line, two impressive running backs and a strong defense, I think they’re capable of being the No. 2 team in the East.
7. Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss owns its identity well. The Rebels understand they need at least some improved play on defense, but the 2020 approach will remain the same: try to score every time the offense gets the football. Even with Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah gone, this is a lethal offensive group.
6. Texas Longhorns
For this hypothetical scenario, Texas would still find itself in a decent position after the switch to the SEC. Being a top 6 squad in a dominate 16-team super conference would likely mean a top 25 ranking. If Casey Thompson can continue to play like he did in his lone start last year, that ranking would be warranted, especially with Steve Sarkisian now leading the offense.
5. LSU Tigers
After a 5-5 finish in 2020, seeing LSU ranked in the top 5 here might be a surprise. But like most everyone else, I’m expecting the Tigers to bounce back this year. Regardless of who wins the QB competition between Myles Brennan and Max Johnson, I’m a believer in the offense. This team’s success could come down to improvement on defense.
4. Texas A&M Aggies
If Texas A&M had a proven commodity at quarterback, a lot of people would be predicting them to win the SEC West. The defense returns most of its starters from a year ago, and there’s enough talent and experience returning on offense to provide hope. I believe Haynes King or Zach Calzada can do enough to make this a top 10 team nationally in 2021.
2b. Georgia Bulldogs
I went back and forth between Georgia and Oklahoma for the No. 2 spot. There are arguments to be made for both, but I think all three of these top teams are true national title contenders. I’ve taken the injury to George Pickens into consideration, but the Dawgs still are good enough to finish higher than this.
2a. Oklahoma Sooners
The defensive improvements shown late down the stretch last season allowed Oklahoma to tie Georgia for No. 2 on this list. Well, that and all those reinforcements from the 2021 recruiting class, as well as the transfers from Tennessee. Between Spencer Rattler and JT Daniels, I’m still taking Rattler due to his ceiling.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Under Nick Saban, Alabama has proven that they can reload instead of rebuilding. If the Tide didn’t have that reputation, there’s no way they’d check into the top spot here after the offensive losses from a season ago. Bryce Young is a future star though, and the defense should be one of the best in the country.
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Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.