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SEC Football Power Poll: Preseason

In this week's installment, The Daily Mississippian's sports editor David Collier will rank the 14 Southeastern Conference teams. Opponents, game times and television networks are also included for each team.

 
1. LSU (Last Season: 13-1, 8-0 SEC)
 
The Tigers will be in the national championship discussion again this year. LSU starts the season with a favorable schedule, and they get to play Alabama at home this year. The Tigers will once again rely on their defense, despite the loss of All-American corner Tyrann Mathieu. Zach Mettenberger will hope to give LSU a stronger presence at quarterback that they did not have a year ago.
 
This week: North Texas, 6 p.m., ESPNU
 
2. Alabama (Last Season: 12-1, 7-1 SEC)
 
Head coach Nick Saban and his squad will be tested right away with Saturday's showdown against Michigan in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas this weekend. The Crimson Tide have to replace some key players on the defensive side of the ball, but they look to be one of the elite defenses once again this season. Quarterback A.J. McCarron will fill the void on offense, while Eddie Lacy takes over for Trent Richardson. 
 
This week: vs. Michigan (Arlington, Texas), 7 p.m., ABC
 
3. Georgia (Last Season: 10-4, 7-1 SEC)
 
Aaron Murray leads a Georgia team that looks to turn some heads this year. Murray is one of the top quarterbacks in the country and will be more heavily relied upon with the dismissal of Isaiah Crowell in the offseason. The Bulldog defense will be a strength this season and could be the difference in some key match ups this season.
 
This week: Buffalo, 11 a.m., SEC Network
 
4. South Carolina (Last Season: 11-2, 6-2 SEC)
 
The return of Marcus Lattimore this season will give the Gamecocks an immediate boost on the offensive side of the ball. Connor Shaw will try to be a consistent coach on the field for South Carolina, while the defense will again be a strength for the team. The Gamecocks weren't lucky in the scheduling process, as they have to play both LSU and Arkansas from the West. 
 
This week: at Vanderbilt, tonight, 6 p.m., ESPN
 
5. Arkansas (Last Season: 11-2, 6-2 SEC)
 
If there's any team ready to get the season started, it's Arkansas. The Razorbacks had plenty of offseason drama with Bobby Petrino having an ugly ending in Fayetteville and the entrance of John L. Smith as interim head coach. Quarterback Tyler Wilson will be one of the top players in the league, and the return of Knile Davis at running back makes the Razorback offense even more dangerous. 
 
This week: Jacksonville State, 6 p.m., PPV 
 
6. Missouri (Last Season: 8-5, 5-4 Big 12)
 
Making their SEC debut, Missouri has the potential to make a run at the Eastern division crown. They're a talented team, but everyone wants to know how they will fare against SEC competition. They get an early test hosting Georgia in this second week of the year before traveling to South Carolina in week four. It's a tough schedule, but it's also a good opportunity to make their mark on the conference.
 
This week: Southeastern Louisiana, 6 p.m., PPV
 
7. Tennessee (Last Season: 5-7, 1-7 SEC)
 
Derek Dooley has his squad as a hot pick for the surprise team of the year. The Volunteers have a strong set of receivers and quarterback Tyler Bray is poised to have a breakout year. Tennessee faces Georgia and South Carolina on the road, but the remainder of the schedule sets up nicely.
 
This week: vs. North Carolina State (Atlanta), Friday, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU
 
8. Florida (Last Season: 7-6, 3-5 SEC)
 
In year two under Will Muschamp, the Gators have some question marks. As always, the depth chart is loaded with talent, but it remains to be seen how much of Muschamp's system the defense will have this year. The offense hopes to rebound from a struggling 2011 campaign, but road trips to Texas A&M and Tennessee provides a tough opening schedule.
 
This week: Bowling Green, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
 
9. Auburn (Last Season: 8-5, 4-4 SEC)
 
Gus Malzahn and Michael Dyer are gone, and an unproven quarterback leave a lot of unanswered questions for Gene Chizik and his staff. The defense hopes to be improved from a year ago with a new defensive coordinator trying to get things figured out. The Tigers will see what they're made of in the first couple of weeks of the season with match ups against Clemson and Mississippi State.
 
This week: vs. Clemson (Atlanta), 6 p.m., ESPN
 
10. Mississippi State (Last Season: 7-6, 2-6 SEC)
 
Amidst the off-the-field drama surround the recruitment of defensive back Will Redmond, Dan Mullen heads into the year hoping to build off momentum he established the past two years. Tyler Russell takes over at quarterback, while Jonathan Banks leads things on the defensive side of the ball in the secondary. The schedule puts the Bulldogs in prime position to make an early run in the schedule.
 
This week: Jackson State, 6 p.m., PPV
 
11. Texas A&M (Last Season: 7-6, 4-5 Big 12)
 
The Aggies get to start their season with a huge home game against Florida next week because their season opener against Louisiana Tech was postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. First year head coach Kevin Sumlin hopes to have enough of his offense installed to make an early impact in year one in the SEC. Last season, Texas A&M had trouble in the second half of games, and it remains to be seen if that remains an issue.
 
This week: vs. Louisiana Tech (Postponed due Hurricane Isaac)
 
12. Vanderbilt (Last Season: 6-7, 2-6 SEC)
 
If there's any SEC program feeding off of momentum from last season, it's Vanderbilt. James Franklin has the Commodores believing in themselves and expects to make a splash in the conference this season. Zac Stacy is a force in the backfield. Vanderbilt can make a big impact early on as they host South Carolina to open up the season tonight. 
 
This week: South Carolina, tonight, 6 p.m., ESPN
 
13. Kentucky (Last Season: 5-7, 2-6 SEC)
 
Joker Phillips and his Wildcats team are trying to build off momentum of last season's win over Tennessee to end the season. Kentucky has depth issues all around but have a big opportunity to keep the momentum going against in-state foe Louisville. 
 
This week: at Louisville, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
 
14. Ole Miss (Last Season: 2-10, 0-8 SEC) 
 
The Hugh Freeze era begins in Oxford on Saturday night, as the Rebels hope to get off to a 1-0 start for the first time since 2009. The Rebels have depth issues and are trying to figure out Freeze's scheme and fast tempo. The defense will likely have to be the strength of the team, while the offense gets in order. The schedule presents a great chance to get off to an early start, but a brutal October will be a rough stretch for the Rebels. 
 
This week: Central Arkansas, 6 p.m., PPV
 
For continuing coverage of Ole Miss football, follow @thedm_sports and @DavidLCollier on Twitter.