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SEC West Power Rankings

By Southern Pigskin Staff
SouthernPigskin.com
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Picks for 2020 in the SEC West, the toughest division in football.

Though there is obvious uncertainty around this college football season, here are our 2020 power rankings for SEC West.

1. Alabama -- Surprise, surprise; the Crimson Tide are one of the leading national favorites. As always, the talent is absolutely there. Though there isn't necessarily yet superstar power at the quarterback position with Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris, receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and tackle Alex Leatherwood are each All-American candidates for back-again coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Defensively, Alabama has a true shutdown cornerback with Patrick Surtain II. Now healthy, the return of linebacker Dylan Moses, who had a team-high 86 tackles in 2018, gives the Crimson Tide a captain in the middle of the field. 
2019 Record: 11-2
Offensive MVP: DeVonta Smith, WR
Defensive MVP: Patrick Surtain II, CB
Key Game: at LSU, November 7th
Bonus Stat: Since going 7-6 in his first year in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has reached double digits in wins in the remainder of Nick Saban's remaining 12 seasons with the Crimson Tide, winning at least eleven games eleven times in that span.

2. LSU -- The Tigers aren't going anywhere. Plenty of talent still remains in Baton Rouge and a very strong argument can be made that LSU returns the SEC's two best players in receiver Ja'Mar Chase and cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr. Linebacker Damone Clark, offensive tackle Austin Deculus, defensive lineman Neil Farrell, receiver Terrance Marshall, defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, safety JaCoby Stevens, cornerback Kary Vincent and Kicker Cade York are among those who have earned all-conference recognition. Quarterback Myles Brennan is obviously stepping into the biggest spotlight in the sport.
2019 Record: 15-0
Offensive MVP: Ja'Marr Chase, WR
Defensive MVP: Derek Stingley, CB   
Key Game: vs Alabama, November 7th
Bonus Stat: Each of the last two years, LSU ended college football longest winning streaks with wins over Clemson and UCF; Florida currently has the nation's seventh-longest winning streak and the Tigers are scheduled to play in Gainesville in early October.

MORE: LSU Not 'Geauxing' Anywhere

3. Auburn -- As a true freshman, quarterback Bo Nix helped rally the Tigers to wins over Oregon and Alabama, and nearly Florida and Georgia as well. If he, after 23 total touchdowns, can take the next step with improved profiency, Auburn will contend in the SEC West. Nix has a go-to star out wide in playmaker Seth Williams. K.J. Britt moves into a clear leadership role on a relatively inexperienced defense. He headlines a strong linebacker corps where Owen Pappoe is ready for more work. Following a recent theme, of course, this appears to be another big year for Gus Malzahn. 
2019 Record: 9-4
Offensive MVP: Bo Nix, QB
Defensive MVP: K.J. Britt, LB
Key Game: at Alabama, November 28th
Bonus Stat: Auburn, which always finds a way to be in dramatic games, played seven contests last season decided by one score.

4. Texas A&M -- The Aggies have the look of a contender, but also the unrelenting measure that is a schedule in the SEC West. With a veteran quarterback, proven playmakers and defensive leaders, Texas A&M has the framework that top teams often do. Kellen Mond, with 70 career touchdowns, might be the best signal caller in the league. He and running back Isaiah Spiller form a great duo. Skill position talent abounds with last season's leading receiver Jhamon Ausbon and two standouts at tight end in Jalen Wydermyer and Baylor Cupp. Linebackers Buddy Johnson and Anthony Hines III will pace the defense. 
2019 Record: 8-5
Offensive MVP: Kellen Mond, QB
Defensive MVP: Buddy Johnson, LB
Key Game: at Auburn, October 17th
Bonus Stat: Texas A&M is undefeated in its last eleven games against opponents ranked outside of the national top 15.

5. Mississippi State -- Mike Leach takes over in Starkville and has brought a former star quarterback from the Pac-12 in ex-Stanford signal caller K.J. Costello with him. Costello earned second-team all-league honors in 2018 with 3,450 yards and 29 touchdowns on 65% passing. Get ready for big numbers. Kylin Hill is an elite playmaker at running back and is the SEC's leading returning running back after 1,350 yards a year ago. In Costello and Hill, the Bulldogs have one of the nation's top offensive backfields. With 217 career tackles and 18 career tackles for loss, linebacker Erroll Thompson is a veteran leader defensively.   
2019 Record: 6-7
Offensive MVP: K.J. Costello, QB
Defensive MVP: Erroll Thompson, LB
Key Game: at Ole MIss, November 26th
Bonus Stat: Mike Leach's teams, previously with Washington State, have ranked in the top four in the nation in passing seven years in a row. 

6. Ole Miss -- Lane Kiffin, head coach at Tennessee in 2009 and offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2014-2016, has returned to the SEC. He has a centerpience to build around in quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who led the league with over 113 rushing yards per game last season, topping the 1,000-yard mark in just nine games. Additionally, running back Jerrion Ealy averaged almost seven yards per carry as a freshman and receiver Elijah Moore caught 67 passes. The Rebels will have one of the best linebacker rooms in the country, with Lakia Henry, Jacquez Jones and Mohamed Sanogo, 112 tackles in 2018, back from injury.
2019 Record: 4-8
Offensive MVP: John Rhys Plumlee, QB
Defensive MVP: Mohamed Sanogo, LB
Key Game: vs Mississippi State, November 26th
Bonus Stat: John Rhyse Plumlee had ten rushes of at least 30 yards last season, a number only Lynn Bowden has bested over the last three years in the SEC.

7. Arkansas -- Renowned former Georgia offensive line coach and assistant head coach Sam Pittman, in the same role with the Razorbacks from 2013-2015, is back to lead the way. The addition of Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is a big boost and will stabilize that position. In Franks and running back Rakeem Boyd, 1,133 rushing yards in 2019, Arkansas will have one of the SEC's most proven and productive backfields. It still may take some time for an identity to develop. Playmakers are needed up front and on the back-end defensively, though Bumper Pool is a difference-maker in the middle-of-the-field.
2019 Record: 2-10
Offensive MVP: Rakeem Boyd, RB
Defensive MVP: Bumper Pool, LB   
Key Game: at Mississippi State, September 19th
Bonus Stat: Here is a complete list of SEC quarterbacks with at least 24 passing touchdowns and seven rushing scores in a single season the last 20 years: Kellen Mond, Joshua Dobbs, Chad Kelly, Dak Prescott (2x), Blake Sims, Johnny Manziel (2x), Aaron Murray, Cam Newton, Tebow (2x) and Feleipe Franks.