Alabama: The Crimson Tide fell short of a third consecutive national championship appearance last season when it lost in memorable fashion to Auburn. Alabama figures to regain its SEC title, then be one of the four choices for the Football Bowl Subdivison’s playoff.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have finished 11-2 in three consecutive seasons under coach Steve Spurrier, but have yet to win an SEC title.
Louisiana State: If the Tigers can get past Auburn on the road Oct. 4, a berth in the SEC championship game could be at stake when Alabama comes to Death Valley Nov. 8.
Five to watch
Todd Gurley, Georgia, RB, Jr. (6-foot-1, 226 pounds): In a league full of great running backs, he might be the best. He rushed for 989 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Nick Marshall, Auburn, QB, Sr. (6-1, 210): Does an excellent job of directing coach Gus Malzahn’s up-tempo offense, averaged 234.2 yards per game in total offense last year.
Leonard Fournette, LSU, RB, Fr. (6-1, 230): One of the most eagerly anticipated freshmen in recent seasons in Baton Rouge. Rushed for 7,619 yards and 88 touchdowns during high school career.
T.J. Yeldon, Alabama, RB, Jr. (6-2, 221): SEC’s leading rusher last season gained 1,235 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.
Mike Davis, South Carolina, RB, Jr. (5-9, 223): With quarterback Connor Shaw gone, Davis will become the focus of the Gamecocks’ offense. Gained 1,183 yards and scored 11 touchdowns last season.
Game you shouldn’t miss
Sept. 13, Georgia at South Carolina: If the East is supposed to come down to the Gamecocks or Bulldogs, it follows that this early-season showdown will play a big part in determining who heads to Atlanta in December. David Scott