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11 Teams Looking To Take That Next Step
RB Jalen Hurd (Tennessee)
QB Joshua Dobbs ( Tennessee)
RB Chris Warren III (Texas)
LB Malik Jefferson (Texas)
RB Royce Freeman (Oregon)
CB Tony Bridges (Ole Miss)
QB Jeremy Johnson (Auburn)
LB Jarrad Davis (Florida)
RB Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)
FS Marcus Williams (Utah)
DE Myles Garrett (Texas A&M)
- Tennessee - The Vols went 9-4 last year losing those four games by combine 17 points. Now they look to take that next step at contending for a SEC East title and perhaps more. The Vols haven't beaten Florida since 2004 and Alabama since 2006. But they did end a five game losing streak to Georgia last year with a 38-31 come from behind victory. How serious can Tennessee be? Will they contend just for SEC East or will they contend for a national title?
- Texas - Only thing Texas fans can be happy about is a 2011 victory over Texas A&M sending the Aggies out of the Big 12 to the SEC with a los and last year upsetting Big 12 champions Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. Other than that the Longhorns have been a disappointing 6-7 in 2014 getting blown out by Arkansas in the Texas Bowl 31-7 and not even making a bowl game last year finishing 5-7. The Longhorns look to turn things around in to 2016 with 15 returning starters (7 offense, 8 defense). But the question is who will play quarterback as they haven't gotten any production out of the position since third year head coach Charlie Strong has been there..
- Oregon - The Ducks started off last going 3-3 in its first six games with one of the losses was a 62-20 beat down from Utah in week 4. But the Ducks finished the regular season 6-0 including a win over Pac 12 champ Stanford along the way and 20 point whipping to USC. They did however manage to lose their bowl game to TCU last year where they had a 31-0 lead at halftime! And ended up losing in triple over time 47-41. So the Ducks were playing some of best football toward the end of the season finishing with 7-2 record in conference play. They will be breaking a new starter at quarterback but they seem to keep someone waiting for there chance.
- Ole Miss - Can the Rebels take that next step? It almost happen last year when the Rebels were leading Arkansas in overtime but a face mask penalty gave Arkansas a second chance and the Hogs won 53-52 in overtime. Ole Miss then went to win its next two conference games against LSU and Mississippi State. But the lost to Arkansas knock them out of the SEC West title in which they had the tiebreaker over Alabama. They also avenged a embarrassing Peach Bowl lost to TCU in 2014 as they whipped up on Oklahoma state in the Sugar Bowl last year 48-20.We will know a lot about Ole Miss early as they face Florida State in there season opener and Alabama two weeks later and Georgia the week after the Bama game.
- Auburn - Auburn went undefeated in 1993 but did not play for a national title cause of sanctions. In 2000 the Tigers won the SEC West but they lost in the SEC Championship to Florida. The Tigers went undefeated in 2004 winning the SEC and beating Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. They still were left out the national title game this time, probation had nothing to do with that one. 2010 we saw Auburn finally win as they went undefeated and claiming a national title. The Tigers made it back to the SEC Title and playing for a national title where they lost to Florida State in the last seconds of the game. Auburn has won the SEC West four times since 1993 and three are the year before Alabama had won the SEC West ('92, '99, '09 & '12). So will the Tigers step up this year like they did in 2013 and 2004.
- Florida - Last year the Gators won the SEC East for the first time since 2009. But the Gators went on a down spiral after a 27-3 victory over Georgia last year. After that they went on to beat Vanderbilt (9-7), South Carolina 24-14 and a going into overtime with then 3-8 Florida Atlantic (20-14). And then came the loses to Florida State, Alabama and beat down from Michigan by combine score of 97-24. So Florida still have to prove are they a real contender cause they were pretending last year.
- Miami(FL) - Will new head coach Mark Richt bring to the Canes what Nick Saban brought to Alabama. Richt was a good coach at Georgia, he just didn't win a national title. But we didn't have a playoff system then so its not his fault in a way. Saban was already a good coach but when he got to Alabama he became great. Will Richt resurrect the U like Saban did for Alabama? That's what I want to know.
- Stanford - Can the Cardinal get into the playoffs? Last year the Pac 12 champs were on the outside looking in at the college football playoffs as they went on to defeat Iowa in the Rose Bowl 45-16. Stanford has been a major contender in the Pac 12 since 2010 and now they seek to see if they can take another step toward getting into a playoff bowl game.
- Utah - In 2015 the Utes started the season off going 6-0 and ranked third in the nation before they fell to USC on the road 42-24. They finished the year after the USC lost 3-2 to end up with 10-3 record including a Las Vegas Bowl victory of rival BYU 35-28.
- Texas A&M - In 2012 the Aggies started the year off with loss to Florida but then won there next five games before losing to LSU but they put together another five game winning streak to finish the regular season 10-2 and a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma. The Aggies have started off 2013, 2014 and 2015 5-1 in there first six games only to go 8 -10 in last six games. So can the Aggie put together a full season that's what seems be the problem, they falter down the stretch of there schedule.
- Houston - The Cougars already took a step when they defeated Florida State in the Peach Bowl last year 38-24 finishing the year with a 13-1 record. This year the Cougars get Oklahoma in there season opener. A win and Houston may be in contention for a playoff berth especially if the AAC duplicates what it did last year as a conference.