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article image2016 SEC Football Preview: 'Bama not a lock for conference champs

By Larry Seely     Aug 17, 2016 in Sports
Baton Rouge - The SEC has dominated the college football landscape for the last decade and it appears the conference is set for another banner season, but it won't be just Alabama battling for a spot in the NCAA Football Playoffs in 2016.
Nick Saban has turned the Crimson Tide into a dynasty with his ability to recruit and get the most out of the talented youngsters that put on a uniform, but unlike the past five years and despite entering the year as the top-ranked program in the nation, other schools will have a big say in what happens before the year is over.
LSU has everything necessary to wrestle the West Division form 'Bama. The Tigers have the best offensive player in the conference with running back Leonard Fournette and quarterback Brandon Harris now entering his third year as the starting signal caller. The 'Bayou Bengals' also have one of the best offensive lines in the country and some talented wide receivers that will take the pressure off the running game.
New defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will bring a 3-4 look to the program, which should help with speedy linebackers able to make more big plays and allow the depth of this unit to shine. With 17 starters back for the 2016 season and a home game against Alabama, don't count out the Tigers as they could be a dark horse for the upcoming football season.
While the West Division gets most of the attention, don't look past the likes of Tennessee and Georgia from the east. The Volunteers have made great strides the past three years under head coach Butch Jones. With nine wins in 2015 and 17 starters returning for this season, the Vols' are getting plenty of press, but until they win that one big game, all the headlines will remain in the west.
The Bulldogs are another program that always seems on the verge of greatness, but have yet to reach the pinnacle of college football. With a new head coach in Kirby Smart, this team has several question marks heading into their opener against North Carolina, but if they can get better play at quarterback and some of their top recruits perform as expected, a big year is within reach, but it will likely take another year or two for this program to become an SEC championship contender.
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