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Five SEC Declarations

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Five SEC predictions for the 2019 season.

1. Alabama Goes Undefeated in the Regular Season and Won't Have Any Close Calls
The Crimson Tide lost their last game 44-16. Simply put, that is not good news for the rest of college football, most specifically the teams on Alabama's schedule. Returning the likes of Tua Tagovailoa, Jerry Jeudy and Dylan Moses, the Crimson Tide, as usual, feature a number of the best players in the game. Relatively-speaking, the schedule is actually manageable. Alabama opens with Duke and plays South Carolina on its rotational SEC East schedule. LSU, the perceived top challenger in the west, comes to Tuscaloosa. Games at Texas A&M and Auburn will certainly be tough, but the Crimson Tide have the talent and motivation to roll through the regular season without ever being in late danger of losing a football game. 

2. The SEC is College Football's Top QB Conference -- and By a Wide Margin
The combination of Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm is an all-time tandem for quarterbacks leading a league. Forever linked by their duel as true freshmen in the national championship game two years ago, Tagovailoa and Fromm both ranked in the top five in the country in passer rating last fall, with the former setting a new single season FBS record. That said, there is more here than just Tagovailoa and Fromm. Both Feleipe Franks of Florida and Kellen Mond of Texas A&M were part of the "24-7 Club" in 2018, becoming two of just ten SEC quarterbacks the past 20 years with at least 24 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns in a single season, also winning a combined 29 games. LSU's joe Burrow ended UCF's winning streak with a Fiesta Bowl effort for the ages, while Jake Bentley is set to join the league's exclusive 10,000-yard passing club. Also, former Clemson standout Kelly Bryant brings big-time credentials to Missouri. From greats Tagovailoa and Fromm to the notable depth in the conference, the SEC has impressive star power at the game's most important position.   

3. LSU Has The Nation's Most Talented Secondary
At a place that can make as good of a case as any for "DBU", the defensive backfield will be an absolute next-level showcase. It all starts with all-everything safety Grant Delpit, team leader in both sacks and interceptions as a sophomore, who is arguably college football's best defender. Think current NFL superstar and former Tiger All-American Jamal Adams all over again. Senior Kristian Fulton, 6'0'', 200 pounds, is a prototypical top cover corner. True freshman Derek Stingley will begin his college career as one of the most hyped prep defensive backs in recent memory. There is talent and depth everywhere and a proven track record to match.  

4. Georgia Has Established Itself As the Game's Modern OL Standard
The Bulldogs have long been known for their physicality, but, up front, they have added to the status quo. With the return of the likes of tackle Andrew Thomas and guard Solomon Kindley, with impressive depth and even more great talent coming in, Georgia will have the premier offensive line in the country. More than that, though, the Bulldogs are now college football's barometer along the offensive front. Georgia has led the SEC in rushing in each of the last two years. The Bulldogs, quite remarkably given the level of competition, slotted 7th nationally in yards per carry in both 2017 and 2018. Georgia has also ranked in the top four in the conference in fewest sacks allowed the past two seasons. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman has blue-chip talent coming in for the years to come, with the Bulldogs' recruiting efforts proven especially successful at the line of scrimmage.

5. Vanderbilt's Ke'Shawn Vaughn is the SEC's Best Running Back
This is a player who deserves much more attention nationally. What Vaughn did last season was almost absurd: 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns at 7.92 yards per carry, all in college football's toughest conference. His impact on Vanderbilt has proven to be quite key; the Commodores went 3-0 in games where he had more than 15 rushing attempts. Since the start of the new millennium, the only Power Five running backs with 1,200 rushing yards, 7.9 yards per carry and multiple touchdown receptions in a single season are: Reggie Bush, Travis Etienne and Vaughn. He is a superstar, with more highlights on the way.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports