Florida – 7 Wins
Florida surprised many by winning the SEC East this past season, finishing the year with 10 wins – seven in the SEC – before losing the conference title game against Alabama. But things may not work out as well in 2016, unless the Gators fix their problems on the offensive side of the ball. On the road against Tennessee, Arkansas and FSU, Florida better take advantage of its home game against LSU.
Georgia – 10 Wins
With first-year head coach Kirby Smart stepping in to take over for Mark Richt, who is now the head coach at Miami, the Bulldogs are somewhat of a mystery. But one thing we know for sure – running back Nick Chubb will be back, and he’s one of the best backs in the country. With Chubb, the Bulldogs may not even feel the transition. Hosting Florida and Tennessee will be huge, but hitting the road against Ole Miss may be trouble.
Kentucky – 6 Wins
The Wildcats won five games this past season, and they may be in position to take a slight step forward in 2016. At least, the schedule plays out that way. Kentucky’s defense should be good enough to win the games they’re supposed to win, and might be good enough to win ones they’re not. Home games against Mississippi State and Georgia will be tough, for sure, as will the road contests against Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisville. But they should be okay otherwise.
Missouri – 3 Wins
The Tigers will also be dealing with a coaching transition after Gary Pinkel stepped down due to health reasons, and defensive coordinator Barry Odom will take his place. With this transition, along with the fact that Missouri doesn’t have a quarterback- or an offense – the Tigers will take another step back in 2016. Getting Georgia and Arkansas at home will help, but road games against Florida, LSU and Tennessee will hurt.
South Carolina – 3 Wins
South Carolina won just three games last season, leading to head coach Steve Spurrier decided to step down halfway through the season, and things aren’t looking much better for 2016. Young talent will be more experienced, but it won’t change the fact that the Gamecocks won’t be able to compete with a tough schedule. South Carolina gets most of its tough games at home, but does have to travel to Florida and Clemson.
Tennessee – 10 Wins
The Volunteers finished last season with nine wins, falling just short of a couple others, and most expect them to take a big step forward and capture the SEC East in 2016. The most difficult games on the schedule will be at home against Alabama and on the road against Georgia, but there are a few other humps to get other – like beating Florida for the first time in a long time. Should be interesting in Knoxville.
Vanderbilt – 4 Wins
The Commodores struggled last season, managing to win just four games, with two of those coming in the SEC. Vanderbilt fans should expect more of the same in 2016, as the schedule is not favorable. Vandy gets Florida, Ole Miss and Tennessee at home, but has to take the road against Georgia Tech, Georgia and Auburn. That’s not looking good, at all.
Alabama – 11 Wins
The Crimson Tide captured the SEC West last season and went off to capture the College Football Playoff Final against Clemson. There’s no reason to believe that they can’t at least repeat as division champs in 2016. Head coach Nick Saban and staff have the shelves stocked with enough talent to keep them in the mix for years to come. Road games against Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU will be challenges.
Arkansas – 7 Wins
With the departure of running back Alex Collins, the Razorbacks will likely take a slight step back in 2016, and their schedule only adds to that. Road games against TCU, Auburn and Texas A&M will be tough, but hosting Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida and LSU will be a struggle. Arkansas fans can look forward to an exciting home slate, though.
Auburn – 7 Wins
The Tigers won seven games this past season, struggling to find any kind of consistency on the offensive side of the ball, but 2016 could be an interesting year at Auburn. Transfer quarterback John Franklin III has a good chance to step in under center, and his athleticism mimics that of former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, who led the Tigers to the title game. But it’s still tough sledding with Clemson, Alabama and LSU, as well as others, on the schedule.
LSU – 10 Wins
LSU won nine games this season, and the Tigers are in position to take a step forward in 2016. With the return of running back Leonard Fournette, anything is possible, even with a difficult schedule. The Tigers open the season against Wisconsin in Lambeau Field before playing the likes of Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida and Arkansas.
Mississippi State – 6 Wins
The departure of quarterback Dak Prescott will absolutely hurt the Bulldogs in 2016, as they struggle to find a replacement for the most important player in Starkville the last three years. A tough SEC schedule doesn’t help that fact. Road games against LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss highlight a schedule that will be an uphill climb all season long.
Ole Miss – 8 Wins
With the return of quarterback Chad Kelly, the Rebels will be in position to make a run at the SEC West title, and have basically been the only team that has figured out how to beat Alabama as of late. The schedule, though, may present some problems. Opening up the season against FSU before games against teams like Alabama, Georgia and LSU will prove to be difficult.
Texas A&M – 7 Wins
It seems like the Aggies have been a mess since the beginning of the 2015 college football season, and it feels as if they’ll take a small step back in 2016. With struggles on offense and defense, Texas A&M will have problems navigating a difficult schedule. Not only do the Aggies open up the season against UCLA, but they have to play host to the likes of Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU, and have to head to Tuscaloosa mid-October.