HOOVER, Ala. — Alabama football has won 17 consecutive SEC games, three league titles in a row and four of the last five SEC championships.
The Crimson Tide don’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. Reporters at SEC Media Days picked Alabama football to win its fourth straight SEC title.
Alabama has had a stranglehold on the league since 2012, but is there another team ready to dethrone the Crimson Tide?
SEC Country spoke with four prominent voices covering college football — Paul Finebaum of ESPN/SEC Network, Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports and George Schroeder of USA Today — for their takes on if another team in the SEC is ready to dethrone Alabama football.
“No, I don’t think there’s a serious contender. But if you have to come up with a contender, I think Auburn looks like a possible contender. But no, there’s not a legitimate threat on paper.”
“No. No because there’s a condition on every single one of them. If Florida can find a quarterback and their defense doesn’t drop off that much. If LSU can figure out how to use all those athletes they have on offense. LSU seems like the most logical one because even when they’ve struggled, they’ve played Alabama tough when it’s been in Baton Rouge. They haven’t always played them tough in Tuscaloosa. It seems like athletically, they’re the closest to Alabama in the SEC. With a little more creativity on offense, maybe they have a chance. But I’ve got to see that on the field. We saw that Les Miles offense for too long to think that just changing the people will change everything. I want to see it work on the field before I start believing that anyone can play with Alabama. “
“This year, I think Georgia and Auburn are very, very good teams. I think those two teams are as competent and have the potential to beat Alabama. What gets overstated is how big Alabama’s gap is. The rest of the SEC was incredibly flawed last year. Alabama was flawed last year. We all saw that. What Alabama did last year was disguise its flaws way better than anybody else because of all the 5-stars on defense. This year, I think the style of play is going to be different. I was asked on a radio show last week, ‘If you put Danny Etling on Alabama last year, does Alabama win the SEC championship?’ My answer was yes because that’s how the season was. Then I was asked ‘If you put him on Alabama this year, do they win it?’ I said no because he can’t go win shootouts. Alabama couldn’t win shootouts last year, but they disguised it very well. I don’t know if you can disguise it as well this year. When you look at Auburn with an offense like they have with a quarterback who is very competent, can throw down field, can make decisions on the fly and actually run run-pass options and zone reads, that’s going to be a huge benefit for them. For Georgia, talent level has never been doubted. I think their issues are overstated. If it is Georgia-Alabama in the SEC championship, it’s going to be a really good game. The Iron Bowl the week before is going to be a good game, too. Both of those games are going to be must wins for Alabama.”
“That’s what we’re all searching for. That’s kind of a two-part question. One, is there somebody this year? I don’t know if we see that. Maybe it’s LSU if the quarterback play is there under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Maybe it’s Auburn if Jarrett Stidham is as good as I think he might be. We don’t know. The second part of that is, is someone consistently ready to challenge Alabama as a program? I don’t know who that is at this point beyond this year. Maybe it’s one of those programs [Auburn or LSU]. Maybe one of those programs from the East will finally get it together. We keep waiting for it.”
Here’s how the SEC media voted in preseason polls:
2017 SEC East predictions
|4. South Carolina||897||5|
2017 SEC West predictions
|5. Texas A&M||722||0|
|6. Mississippi State||633||0|
|7. Ole Miss||379||0|
2017 SEC title predictions
|6. South Carolina||1|
Now tell us what you think.