Teams from the Southeastern Conference have won the last seven BCS national championships, with Alabama winning three out of the last four titles.

Alabama is the preseason favorite to win another national crown, but first the Crimson Tide must get through the SEC, which has five teams in The Associated Press preseason top 10.

In the SEC West, Texas A&M and LSU are the teams most likely to challenge Alabama. In the SEC East, there’s South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.



2012: 11-2, 6-2

COACH: Steve Spurrier (66-37, in eight years at USC; 255-118-2 overall in 28 years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 11 (6 offense, 5 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: DE Jadeveon Clowney, QB Connor Shaw, WR Bruce Ellington, CB Victory Hampton, DT Kelcy Quarles, RB Mike Davis, OT Brandon Shell, QB Dylan Thompson, SS Brison Williams.

OUTLOOK: The Gamecocks have the best player in college football in DE Jadeveon Clowney. RB Marcus Lattimore is gone, but USC was 9-1 without Lattimore in the lineup the last two seasons. RB Mike Davis has already shown some big-play capabilities. The Gamecocks have an easier SEC schedule than in previous seasons, while Florida and Georgia each have to play LSU out of the SEC West. The Gamecocks have two proven quarterbacks in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson, but must find a playmaker at wide receiver.


2012: 12-2, 7-1

COACH: Mark Richt (118-40 in 12 years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 14 (10 offense, 4 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: QB Aaron Murray, TB Todd Gurley, TB Keith Marshall, DE Garrison Smith, CB Damian Swann, WR/DB Malcolm Mitchell

OUTLOOK: The Bulldogs return just four starters on defense and start the season with two top 10 opponents. Win those first games — against Clemson and South Carolina — and they’ll be in the mix for a national title. RBs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall give Georgia the best one-two punch in the SEC. The return of WR Michael Bennett should help QB Aaron Murray in the passing game. Tramel Terry, a former Goose Creek High School star, is hoping he’ll be ready to play after suffering a knee injury in last year’s Shrine Bowl.


2012: 11-2, 7-1.

COACH: Will Muschamp (18-8 in two years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 9 (6 offense, 3 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: QB Jeff Driskel, DL Dominque Easley, QB/WR Loucheiz Purifoy, WR Quinton Doctor, OL Jon Halapio, OL Jon Harrison

OUTLOOK: The Gators were decimated by graduation and early defections to the NFL. The Gators have just three returning starters on defense and will have three new starters at linebacker. The Gators do return three starters on the offensive line, but QB Jeff Driskel must be more consistent in the passing game for the Gators to challenge Georgia or South Carolina in the SEC East.


2012: 9-4, 5-3.

COACH: James Franklin (15-11 in two years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 14 (8 offense, 6 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: WR Jordan Matthews, CB Andre Hal, OT Wesley Johnson, PK Carey Spear, WR Chris Boyd, SS Kenny Ladler, LB Chase Ladler

OUTLOOK: Vanderbilt finished last season with seven straight wins, including a 38-24 victory over N.C. State in the Music City Bowl. Austyn Carta-Samuels is looking to replace Jordan Rodgers, who threw for more than 2,500 yards in 2012. WR Jordan Matthews, who had 1,323 receiving yards, might be the best wideout in the SEC, while Chris Boyd, who caught 50 passes in 2012, is no slouch either. The Commodores have six starters back on a defense that was fifth in the SEC in total defense (333.9 ypg) and fifth in scoring defense (18.7 ppg).


2012: 5-7, 1-7.

COACH: Butch Jones (First year at Tennessee; 32-12 in six years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 13 (5 offense, 8 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: OL Ja’Wuan, OL Tiny Richardson, LB AJ Johnson, DL Daniel McCullers, RB Rajion Neal, DB Bryan Moore

OUTLOOK: The biggest question mark for the Vols coming into the season: who would replace QB Tyler Bray? It appears former Northwestern High School star Justin Worley won the job. Worley was 12 of 53 for 134 yards, with two interceptions, in 2012. While the offensive line is one of the best in the country, the Vols skill players must produce this season for Tennessee to compete in the SEC.


2012: 5-7, 2-6

COACH: Gary Pinkel (90-60 in 12 years at Missouri, 102-71-3 in 22 years overall)

RETURNING STARTERS: 14 (8 offense, 6 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: QB James Franklin, SB E.J. Gaines, WR L’Damian Washington, RB Henry Josey, LB Andrew Wilson, OL Justin Britt, WR Marcus Lucas, FS Braylan Webb

OUTLOOK: Missouri coach Gary Pinkel learned pretty quickly that there’s a difference between the Big 12 and the SEC. Pinkel led the Tigers to three 10-win seasons from 2007-10 in the Big 12, but could muster just five wins, including two victories in the SEC, last season. QB James Franklin suffered through an injury-plagued 2012 season but is healthy now. RB Henry Josey is hoping to return to his 2011 form when he rushed for more than 1,100 yards. He’s had three knee surgeries since. The Tigers have a group of experienced receivers.


2012: 2-10, 0-8.

COACH: Mark Stoops (first year)

RETURNING STARTERS: 12 (6 offense, 6 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: LB Avery Williamson, DE Alvin Dupree, DT Donte Rumph, OT Darren Miller, RB Raymond Sanders

OUTLOOK: Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops is off to a great start for the 2014 recruiting class with 22 verbal commitments, including seven four-star players. Unfortunately, this is still 2013. The Wildcats can’t be much worse than they were in 2012, when they didn’t beat a team from a BCS conference all season. Look for the Wildcats to improve defensively under Stoops.



2012: 13-1, 7-1.

COACH: Nick Saban (39-9 in six years at Alabama; 97-38-1 overall in 19 years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 13 (6 offense, 7 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: QB AJ McCarron, LB C.J. Mosley, S Haha Clinton-Dix, WR Amari Cooper, RB T.J. Yeldon

OUTLOOK: Can the Crimson Tide capture their third straight BCS national title and their fourth in the last five years? The loss of RB Eddie Lacy will certainly hurt, but T.J. Yeldon is a budding superstar and will get more carries this season. QB AJ McCarron has already won two national titles and has lost just two games in the last two years as a starter. Alabama returns a solid nucleus of players that know how to win big games.


2012: 11-2, 6-2.

COACH: Kevin Sumlin (11-2 at Texas A&M; 46-19 in five years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 11 (6 offense, 5 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: QB Johnny Manziel, WR Mike Evans, OT Jake Matthews, CB Deshazor Everett, RB Ben Malena, LB Steven Jenkins

OUTLOOK: If Johnny Manziel can get through his off-field distractions and play like he did a year ago, the Aggies will be fine. A solid team returns around one of college football’s top playmakers. However, if the reigning Heisman Trophy winner isn’t on the field, the Aggies are in trouble. A Sept. 14 date at home against Alabama could be the game of the year.


2012: 10-3, 6-2

COACH: Les Miles (85-21 in 8 years at LSU; 113-42 overall in 12 years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 12 (8 offense, 4 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: LB Lamin Barrow, DT Anthony Johnson, S Craig Loston, QB Matt Mettenberger, RB Kenny Hilliard, WR Jarvis Landry, OG La’el Collins, RB Jeremy Hill

OUTLOOK: The Tigers have had plenty of distractions since the completion of the 2012 season. RB Jeremy Hill was arrested twice and was suspended from the team. He’s back and is expected to be suspended for a game or two this season, but no one is saying which games. LSU lost its entire starting defensive line from a year ago, which was the strength of the team. QB Matt Mettenberger basically had one good game, that coming against Alabama. He threw for 2,609 yards, but was inconsistent at best.


2012: 4-8, 2-6.

COACH: Bret Bielema (first year at Arkansas, 37-19 in seven years at Wisconsin)

RETURNING STARTERS: 12 (4 offense, 8 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: DT Bryan Jones, FB Kiero Small, DE Chris Smith, C Travis Swanson, S Rahan Gaines, LB A.J. Turner

OUTLOOK: Bret Bielema certainly had plenty of success in the Big Ten, leading Wisconsin to three Rose Bowl appearances. But he has his work cut out for him in his first season in the SEC. The Razorbacks lost a ton of skill talent, including QB Tyler Wilson and RB Knile Davis, plus three offensive linemen. Sophomore QB Brandon Allen has thrown just 49 career passes. The Razorbacks’ secondary and defensive line will be the strengths on defense.


2012: 3-9, 0-8

COACH: Gus Malzahn (first year at Auburn, 9-3 in one season at Arkansas State)

RETURNING STARTERS: 16 (8 offense, 8 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: DE Dee Ford, CB Chris Davis, C Reese Dismukes, FB Jay Prosch, RB Tre Mason, DB Demetruce NcNeal

OUTLOOK: Guz Malzahn was the offensive coordinator when Auburn won the BCS national title in 2010. Unfortunately for Malzahn and the Tigers, former Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton is in the NFL. The Tigers return plenty of experience, but this was a team that didn’t win a game in the SEC in 2012. The biggest question mark is who will run Malzahn’s no-huddle offense. What started out as a four-man race has come down to Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson. DL Gimel President, a former Wando High School star, will be a redshirt freshman for the Tigers.


2012: 7-6, 3-5

COACH: Hugh Freeze (7-6 in one year; 21-6 overall in four years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 19 (9 offense, 11 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: WR Donte Moncrief, QB Bo Wallace, LB Denzel Nkemdiche, DE C.J. Johnson, RB Jeff Scott, WR Ja-Mes Logan, S Cody Prewitt, C Evan Swindall

OUTLOOK: With 19 starters back, including the entire defense, Ole Miss appears to be on the brink of challenging Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU in the SEC West. The Rebels have a proven quarterback in Bo Wallace, a solid running back in Jeff Scott and a threat in the passing game with Dante Moncrief. Throw in DE Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s No. 1 recruit a year ago, and you can see why everyone is bullish on the Rebels.


2012: 8-5, 4-4

COACH: Dan Mullen (29-22 in four years)

RETURNING STARTERS: 12 (6 offense, 6 defense)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: OL Gabe Jackson, QB Tyler Russell, RB Ladaruis Perkins, LB Benardrick McKinney, S Nickoe Whitley, RB LaDarius Perkins

OUTLOOK: Three straight winning seasons at Starkville have Mississippi State fans optimistic. The Bulldogs return a solid nucleus of players on the offensive and defensive lines, but need to find a few more skill players to make any noise in the SEC. Finding a legitimate deep threat at wide receiver will help a passing game that was inconsistent during the 2012 season and would open things up for RB LaDarius Perkins.