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SEC football preview 2023: Can anyone dethrone the Dawgs?

We preview each college football team in the SEC ahead of the 2023 season, including key stats and transfers schedules, odds and more.

Texas Christian Horned Frogs v Georgia Bulldogs Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The SEC is on the eve of massive change as the 2023 season will be the league’s final year before the arrivals of both Oklahoma and Texas. What hasn’t changed are questions of who can stop the super power in Athens, GA.

Georgia enters the new year as the two-time defending national champion and will try to become the first program to three-peat since Minnesota pulled it off in the mid-1930’s. Several key playmakers from the two title teams have moved on to the NFL, but a paper soft schedule could allow for the Bulldogs to rampage their way back to the SEC Championship Game and potentially the College Football Playoff.

Aiming to take down the Dawgs and reclaim the SEC throne are both Alabama and LSU, the two programs that won the most recent national championships prior to UGA’s current run. As is usually the case, these two rivals are the favorites to win the SEC West and their battle in Tuscaloosa, AL, on November 4 could decide the division. Back in the SEC East, Tennessee is still riding high off an epic turnaround season last year and should pose the biggest threat to Georgia for the division title.

There’s several interesting questions pertaining the middle class of the league that we will see play out in the fall. Can Joe Milton pick up where Hendon Hooker left off at Tennessee this season? Can Texas A&M turn around its offensive struggles with Bobby Petrino now at OC? Can Shane Beamer continue the upward trajectory of South Carolina? Can Billy Napier show proof of concept at Florida? How will Mississippi State move forward post-Mike Leach? Will Auburn regain some of its magic under Hugh Freeze? We’ll begin to get the answers to these questions when toe meets leather around Labor Day weekend.

Preseason Media Poll results

SEC East

Georgia Bulldogs (265)
Tennessee Volunteers (14)
South Carolina Gamecocks (3)
Kentucky Wildcats (1)
Florida Gators
Missouri Tigers
Vanderbilt Commodores (8)

SEC West

Alabama Crimson Tide (165)
LSU Tigers (117)
Texas A&M Aggies (1)
Ole Miss Rebels
Arkansas Razorbacks (3)
Auburn Tigers (4)
Mississippi State Bulldogs (1)

() indicates number of first place votes

Preseason Win Totals from DraftKings Sportsbook

SEC East

Georgia: 11.5 (Over +115, Under -135)
Tennessee: 9.5 (Over +155, Under -180)
Kentucky: 7 (Over -120, Under +100)
Missouri: 6.5 (Over +100, Under -120)
South Carolina: 6 (Over -125, Under +105)
Florida: 5.5 (Over -135, Under +115)
Vanderbilt: 3.5 (Over -175, Under +150)

SEC West

Alabama: 10.5 (Over +150, Under -175)
LSU: 9.5 (Over -125, Under +105)
Texas A&M: 8 (Over -130, Under +110)
Ole Miss: 7.5 (Over -115, Under -105)
Arkansas: 7 (Over +125, Under -145)
Auburn: 6.5 (Over -135, Under +115)
Mississippi State: 6.5 (Over +145, Under -165)

Georgia’s path towards winning both the SEC and national championships is extremely manageable as it has just two preseason AP Top 25 teams on its schedule. As mentioned before, the Dawgs will have to replace several monsters on both sides of the ball from its title teams. With the number of five stars that Kirby Smart is hoarding in Athens, however, it won’t be an issue to simply plug in the next batch of future NFL stars into those holes. At quarterback, Carson Beck will be tasked with replacing Stetson Bennett IV and he will have plenty of dangerous weapons to target, including returning Mackey Award winner Brock Bowers at tight end.

Alabama is trying to reclaim the throne at the top of the league after missing both the SEC Championship Game and the College Football Playoff last season. Similar to UGA, it has a huge question mark at QB heading into the season as it tries to find a replacement for Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young. The candidates in Tuscaloosa are junior Jalen Milroe, redshirt freshman Ty Simpson, and Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner, who followed new OC Tommy Rees from South Bend, IN. On defense, Will Anderson Jr. is gone, but a pair of potential first-round picks in linebacker Dallas Turner and cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry are back in the fold.

LSU is entering Year 2 of the Brian Kelly era and is looking to not just repeat as SEC West champion, but lift the SEC title in Atlanta this December. Returning starting quarterback Jayden Daniels is one of the top Heisman Trophy favorites heading into the new campaign and he’ll once again have 1,000-yard receiver Malik Nabers at his disposal. On defense, linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. is a top candidate to win SEC Defensive Player of the Year and he will move to the inside this season.

Key Transfers

QB Devin Leary: NC State to Kentucky
RB Logan Diggs: Notre Dame to LSU
RB Ray Davis: Vanderbilt to Kentucky
WR Dominic Lovett: Missouri to Georgia
WR Zakhari Franklin: UTSA to Ole Miss
TE Trey Knox: Arkansas to South Carolina
C Avery Jones: ECU to Auburn
OT Dillon Wade: Tulsa to Auburn
CB Denver Harris: Texas A&M to LSU
CB Zy Alexander: SE Louisiana to LSU

Full schedule, odds and returners

2023 SEC Preview Table

Team Alabama Arkansas Auburn Florida Georgia Kentucky LSU Mississippi State Missouri Ole Miss South Carolina Tennessee Texas A&M Vanderbilt
Team Alabama Arkansas Auburn Florida Georgia Kentucky LSU Mississippi State Missouri Ole Miss South Carolina Tennessee Texas A&M Vanderbilt
Off Starters Returning 5 4 8 6 6 9 8 8 7 9 6 5 10 7
Def Starters Returning 5 6 9 5 7 5 7 4 8 7 4 7 10 8
Odds to Win SEC +300 +10000 +8000 +7000 -115 +10000 +450 +12000 +12000 +4500 +10000 +1400 +1400 +50000
Win Total 10.5 (Over +150) 7 (Over +125) 6.5 (Over -135) 5.5 (Over -135) Over 11.5 (Over +115) 7 (Over -120) 9.5 (Over -125) 6.5 (Over +145) 6.5 (Over +100) 7.5 (Over -115) 6 (Over -125) 9.5 (Over +155) 8 (Over -130) 3.5 (Over -175)
Schedule Hawai'i (W 35-28)
Saturday Sep. 2 MTSU Western Carolina UMass at Utah (Aug 31) UT-Martin Ball State Florida State (Orlando, Sept. 3) Southeast Louisiana South Dakota Mercer North Carolina (Charlotte) Virginia (Nashville) New Mexico Alabama A&M
Saturday Sep. 9 Texas Kent State at Cal McNeese Ball State Eastern Kentucky Grambling State Arizona Middle Tennessee at Tulane Furman Austin Peay at Miami at Wake Forest
Saturday Sep. 16 at USF BYU Samford Tennessee South Carolina Akron at Mississippi State LSU Kansas State Georgia Tech at Georgia at Florida UL-Monroe at UNLV
Saturday Sep. 23 Ole Miss at LSU at Texas A&M Charlotte UAB at Vanderbilt Arkansas at South Carolina Memphis (St. Louis) at Alabama Mississippi State UTSA Auburn Kentucky
Saturday Sep. 30 at Mississippi State Texas A&M (Dallas) Georgia at Kentucky at Auburn Florida at Ole Miss Alabama at Vanderbilt LSU at Tennessee South Carolina Arkansas (Dallas) Missouri
Saturday Oct. 7 at Texas A&M at Ole Miss OFF Vanderbilt Kentucky at Georgia at Missouri Western Michigan LSU Arkansas OFF OFF Alabama at Florida
Saturday Oct. 14 Arkansas at Alabama at LSU at South Carolina at Vanderbilt Missouri Auburn OFF at Kentucky OFF Florida Texas A&M at Tennessee Georgia
Saturday Oct. 21 Tennessee Mississippi State Ole Miss OFF OFF OFF Army at Arkansas South Carolina at Auburn at Missouri at Alabama OFF OFF
Saturday Oct. 28 OFF OFF Mississippi State Georgia (Jacksonville) Florida (Jacksonville) Tennessee OFF at Auburn OFF Vanderbilt at Texas A&M at Kentucky South Carolina at Ole Miss
Saturday Nov. 4 LSU at Florida at Vanderbilt Arkansas Missouri at Mississippi State at Alabama Kentucky at Georgia Texas A&M Jacksonville State UConn at Ole Miss Auburn
Saturday Nov. 11 at Kentucky Auburn at Arkansas at LSU Ole Miss Alabama Florida at Texas A&M Tennessee at Georgia Vanderbilt at Missouri Mississippi State at South Carolina
Saturday Nov. 18 UT Chattanooga FIU New Mexico State at Missouri at Tenneessee at South Carolina Georgia State Southern Miss Florida UL-Monroe Kentucky Georgia Abilene Christian OFF
Saturday Nov. 25 at Auburn Mizzou Alabama Florida State at Georgia Tech at Louisville Texas A&M Ole Miss (Nov. 23) at Arkansas (Nov. 24) Mississippi State (Nov. 23) Clemson Vanderbilt at LSU at Tennessee

Best bets

Auburn Under 6.5 wins (+120)

Auburn is entering the first year of the Hugh Freeze era and there could be some growing pains on the Plains this fall. It’s usual tough schedule includes a brutal month stretch where it will face Texas A&M, Georgia, LSU, and Ole Miss in consecutive weeks. That doesn’t include toss up games against Cal and Arkansas and then, of course, there’s the Iron Bowl at the end of the year. Take the under on Auburn’s win total.

Missouri Over 6.5 wins (+105)

Missouri has tons of returning production on both sides of the ball and has a shot at finishing above .500 for the first time in the Eli Drinkwitz era. A showdown with reigning Big 12 champion Kansas State highlights its non-conference slate and if can start the season 4-0, it would just have to find three wins in conference to tip the over. I think the Tigers can pull it off.

The 2023 SEC champion will be ... Georgia

UGA is the top dog in the league until someone can knock them off their perch. I don’t see that happening. The Bulldogs are still loaded at practically every position on the field and even if there’s questions with some of their younger starters, they’ll have a soft early schedule to iron out the kinks. Expect the Dawgs to once again reign supreme in Atlanta this December.