Alabama is favored to add to its collection of SEC championship trophies when all is said and done in 2019. Let’s take a closer look at the conference landscape and see if one of the other programs has a chance to break through this year.
*Betting odds provided by MyBookie.ag
Alabama Crimson Tide (-150)
2018 Record: 14-1 | Standings: 1-SEC West | Playoffs: Lost National Title Game
As one of the favorites to win the national championship, it’s clear that the Crimson Tide are locked and loaded as per usual for the coming year. College football betting sites have slapped an 11-win number on the squad for the 12-game regular season, and there aren’t many spots where a slip up even looks possible.
Nick Saban continues to lead the charge as he looks to add more lines to his legendary resume. Tua Tagovailoa has another year under his belt, and stud wideout Jerry Jeudy can do some damage. There’s attrition to deal with on defense, but we can expect the unit to be stout once again.
Alabama deserves its favored status in the SEC. It’s going to take a lot to knock the team off of its perch.
Arkansas Razorbacks (+25000)
2018 Record: 2-10 | Standings: 7-SEC West | Playoffs: N/A
The first season for Chad Morris didn’t go too well as the Razorbacks finished 2018 at 2-10 and winless in SEC play. There’s obviously plenty of room for improvement, but there’s at least a possibility we’ll see some in 2019.
On offense, it starts with the line. Marked improvement is needed for the team to move the ball effectively, but it was also hampered by injuries last year. Defensive coordinator John Chavis has hopes of ratcheting up the intensity, and several returning starters could help on that front.
Arkansas should be at least a little better this season, but the program is a ways away from contending.
Auburn Tigers (+2500)
2018 Record: 8-5 | Standings: 5-SEC West | Playoffs: Won Music City Bowl
After a disappointing 2018, whispers about the status of head coach Gus Malzahn grew louder. Malzahn managed to survive, and he’ll be handling the offensive play calling in 2019 to boot. Said another way, there’s a lot of pressure on him to deliver this season.
This is a talented squad on both sides of the ball, but there are holes to fill. For starters, there’s a battle at QB to replace the departing Jarrett Stidham. The defense is looking like it could be an elite unit with a number of experienced faces, but we’ll naturally have to wait and see.
Auburn should fare at least a little bit better in 2019, but expectations are being tempered.
Florida Gators (+1200)
2018 Record: 10-3 | Standings: 3-SEC East | Playoffs: Won Peach Bowl
Optimism is high for the Gators heading into 2018. The team checked in at 8th in the preseason coaches poll. After an impressive close to 2018 and a win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl, it’s not too hard to understand why.
Head coach Dan Mullen understands the expectations and is facing them head-on. Another year of development for Feleipe Franks and continued growth on the offensive line will be key, as will additional ferociousness from the defense.
Florida is pegged at nine regular-season wins, but they’ll definitely be a team to watch.
Georgia Bulldogs (+250)
2018 Record: 11-3 | Standings: 1-SEC East | Playoffs: Lost Sugar Bowl
Georgia was really close to taking down Alabama in last year’s SEC title tilt, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The carryover effect was big as the Bulldogs went on to lose their bowl game against Texas as well. Nonetheless, this remains one of the top programs in the nation and they should be contenders again.
Kirby Smart is back for his 4th year, while Jake Fromm will have the reins of the offense. D’Andre Swift is the next in a line of solid Bulldogs backs to keep an eye out for. The defense is looking like it’s going to be pretty solid once again as well.
The Bulldogs are the second choice on the odds board in the SEC. We could see a rematch in this year’s conference title game if all goes well.
Kentucky Wildcats (+2500)
2018 Record: 10-3 | Standings: 2-SEC East | Playoffs: Won Citrus Bowl
Kentucky was one of the biggest surprises in the nation last year. A stellar regular season was capped off with a three-point win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. Following that act is going to be tough, to say the least.
This is a team which has lost a lot of talent, so head coach Mark Stoops has his work cut out for him. The offense could be more balanced now that stud RB Benny Snell has moved on. As for the defense, replacing seven starters is at the top of the to-do list.
The benchmark is just 6.5 regular-season wins, so accord to last year’s performance seems unlikely.
LSU Tigers (+1200)
2018 Record: 10-3 | Standings: 3-SEC West | Playoffs: Won Fiesta Bowl
The Tigers are the 6th team in the nation, according to the preseason coaches poll. That makes them a team to watch regardless, and they could make some real noise this year in the unlikely event that Alabama takes a tumble.
Ed Orgeron is back to lead the charge, and he’ll have a new OC by his side in Joe Brady. The club is expected to transition to more of an RPO style, so that could be a boon for the passing game. The defense should be in line with what one would expect from an LSU squad.
The Tigers are contenders in the SEC, but a regular-season meeting at Alabama in November will answer that question.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (+2200)
2018 Record: 8-5 | Standings: 4-SEC West | Playoffs: Lost Liberty Bowl
The Bulldogs received the third-most votes of teams which didn’t crack the preseason coaches poll. That’s a fair picture of where the program stands. All goes well, this is a Top 25 team. If not, they’ll be just on the outside looking in.
Improvement on offense is item one on the agenda, but we’ll have to wait and see how the QB battle plays out. The offensive line is expected to be solid in spite of attrition. We can say the same about the Mississippi State defense.
If this club can improve on offense, then we should see more regular-season wins this year, but contending for the SEC would require a major leap forward.
North Carolina Tar Heels (+6600)
2018 Record: 2-9 | Standings: 7-ACC Coastal | Playoffs: Lost Outback Bowl
Another disappointing season has resulted in changes for the Tar Heels. Mack Brown takes over a program which clearly needs a new direction. His hope is to put an Air Raid style of offense in place, so North Carolina could have some entertainment value in the future.
How that translates on the field in 2019 remains to be seen. A new style of defense is on tap as well, so there is at least some hope for the future. All told, North Carolina doesn’t have to do much to be better than last year’s squad, but Brown will still be expected to show marked improvement.
Missouri Tigers (+3300)
2018 Record: 8-5 | Standings: 5-SEC East | Playoffs: Lost Outback Bowl
Missouri is another program which will have plenty of holes to fill, most notably at QB. Drew Lock is off to the NFL, but head coach Barry Odom and company have welcomed Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant into the fold.
He and junior RB Larry Rountree III could even help the offense improve a bit. The defense will be looking to bounce back from a year in which the unit had some trouble getting to the quarterback, but returning starters could help on that front.
The Tigers are estimated at eight regular-season wins, and that seems like a fair assessment barring either side of the ball taking a major leap forward.
Ole Miss Rebels (+10000)
2018 Record: 5-7 | Standings: 6-SEC West | Playoffs: N/A
The 2018 campaign started off well enough for the Rebels, but it certainly didn’t end that way. After opening up at 5-2, the team would lose its final five. Head coach Matt Luke has plenty of work to do, but he has brought some big names along for the ride.
Rich Rodriguez and Mike Macintyre, both former coaches in the Pac-12, are on board as coordinators. There are plenty of holes to plug on both sides of the ball, but there is talent to be found on this year’s Ole Miss team.
The bar is set at only five regular-season wins, so clearing that will be a pretty good sign.
South Carolina Gamecocks (+6600)
2018 Record: 7-6 | Standings: 4-SEC East | Playoffs: Lost Belk Bowl
The Gamecocks are an intriguing story for 2019. This is a program which could improve in the 4th year of Will Muschamp’s tenure. However, there’s a big elephant in the room in terms of a tough schedule. That’s true for all SEC squads, but South Carolina also faces off with Clemson.
Jake Bentley enters his senior year behind center, and he’ll have to find a new top target now that Deebo Samuel is off to the NFL. The defense could be on the rise here, as there are a number of intriguing returning starters for the talented unit.
It’s not going to be easy for the team to match last year’s win total, let alone challenge for the SEC.
Tennessee Volunteers (+6600)
2018 Record: 5-7 | Standings: 7-SEC East | Playoffs: N/A
Jeremy Pruitt is back for his 2nd year on the sidelines in Tennessee. The program made a few strides last season, and there could be even more to come as the Volunteers were able to attract a solid recruiting class.
For this season, new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will look to get the most out of starting QB Jarrett Guarantano. He showed promise last year, but also clearly needs work. There’s also a lot of turnovers to tend to on the defensive side of the ball.
The Volunteers are headed in the right direction, but it’ll take a while for contention.
Texas A&M Aggies (+2500)
2018 Record: 9-4 | Standings: 2-SEC West | Playoffs: Won Gator Bowl
The Aggies came in at 11th in the coaches poll, but this is a team which can clearly break into the Top 10 in 2019. Jimbo Fisher did a solid job in his first year at his latest stop, and the arrow is clearly pointing up for Texas A&M.
Starting QB Kellen Mond has plenty of talent around him, so the offense could make some additional strides. The defense was stout against the run but week against the pass last year, so there’s clearly room for improvement.
The future looks bright for the Aggies, but contending this year may be a reach.
Vanderbilt Commodores (+12500)
2018 Record: 6-7 | Standings: 6-SEC East | Playoffs: Lost Texas Bowl
Derek Mason has been doing a solid job with the Commodores. The program was sure to lock him up with a recent contract extension. Heading into the season, there’s a battle to replace departing QB Kyle Shurmur.
Whoever wins out will have some nice talent around them, including RB KeShawn Vaughn. The defense has been a work in progress during the Mason era. Returning starters and an influx of new talent could lead to some improvement.
Only five regular-season wins are expected, but the Commodores could surprise.
Our Pick to Win the SEC in 2019
There are a number of intriguing contenders in the SEC this season, including Georgia, Texas A&M, and Florida. However, it’s tough to see any of them breaking through when the chips are down.
Alabama has extra motivation after last year’s embarrassing national title game loss as well. We’re rolling with the Crimson Tide in 2019.