SEC Football: Bama Hammer Week Zero SEC Power Rankings

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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STARKVILLE, MS – NOVEMBER 17: Head Coach Joe Moorhead of the Mississippi State Bulldogs watches a replay on the score board in the second half of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Davis Wade Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Starkville, Mississippi. The Bulldogs defeated the Razorbacks 52-6. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

No. 9 – Mississippi State – AP Preseason Ranking, Unranked

The Bulldogs enter the season under NCAA punishment due to academic fraud. The full impact of player suspensions is not yet known.

In addition, the runnerup in the quarterback battle to replace Nick Fitzgerald, Keytaon Thompson is expected to transfer.

Already faced with having to rebuild its defensive front, the latest developments put Joe Moorhead in a difficult situation. A promising season for the Bulldogs could turn quickly.

Moorhead has a QB to run his preferred offense in Tommy Stevens. Kaylin Hill is a strong running back and if he and Stevens stay healthy, the offense should be better than last season.

A less talented and less experienced defense could drag down the Bulldogs in the always demanding SEC Football, West Division.

No. 10 – Tennessee Volunteers – AP Preseason Ranking, Unranked

Jeremy Pruitt has his hands full in Knoxville. He inherited a depleted roster and was shackled with a deadweight AD in Phil Fulmer. Still, as a Saban pupil, Pruitt brings much to the table.

The Vols will be better in 2019. Better enough to make a bowl game if they can stay relatively healthy. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has an accurate arm and plenty of toughness. The offensive line should be improved enough to lessen past poundings on Guarantano.

It is a measure of how far the Vols program had fallen to ask if it can catch up to Kentucky (or Vanderbilt) in 2019.

No. 11 – Kentucky Wildcats – AP Preseason Ranking, Unranked

Not to dash the hopes of any Wildcats fans out there, but the 2018 Kentucky team’s historic 10-3 may be an aberration, not the new normal. Mark Stoops has done a fabulous job in Lexington and his staff developing hidden gems like first-round defensive end Josh Allen and running back Benny Snell into stars was a major storyline last season. Having to replace its entire secondary on top of Allen, makes Stoops rebuild that much more difficult.

Quarterback Terry Wilson does return, but he finished dead last in the conference in passing yards last season with little help from an underwhelming receiver corps. If there’s little drop off in the run game and the passing game improves, it’s not far fetched to think this team could finish 7-5, maybe 8-4 with a weak non-conference and a doable non-divisional schedule in 2019.