With less than two weeks remaining until the 2016 season begins, prediction questions are running rampant: Who do you think will win the SEC West? What about the East? And who will emerge victorious from the SEC championship game in Atlanta? Our SEC reporters offered their 2016 predictions for each of those items and more below:
SEC East winner: I'm going with Florida to repeat in the East because I still think that Gators' defense is stacked, the offense has to be better with Luke Del Rio under center and that schedule ain't that bad, folks.
SEC West winner: I don't care what Alabama lost or that Nick Saban still doesn't know who his quarterback will be. I've seen this movie before and it ends with the Crimson Tide winning in Atlanta in early December.
SEC championship game winner: Um, see Bama.
SEC Offensive Player of the Year: Leonard Fournette might not win the Heisman (sorry, he won't because of Deshaun Watson), but he'll rush for nearly 2,000 yards and send some poor SEC defenders flying every which way (I'm looking at you, Auburn players!) yet again for LSU.
SEC Freshman of the Year: Jacob Eason won't start immediately for Georgia, but he's too talented not to play, and he'll eventually be the Dawgs' starter, which will be only the beginning of a tremendous journey for the young pup.
SEC Coach of the Year: Derek Mason will grab that title, as he helps directs Vanderbilt to its first bowl game since 2013.
SEC East winner: Tennessee. No excuses this year. Butch Jones’ team has a ton of starters returning, talented stars who passed on entering the draft and an electric return game.
SEC West winner: Alabama. Maybe a veteran LSU club will unseat the Crimson Tide this season, but Alabama remains the favorite until LSU snaps its five-game losing streak against Saban’s team.
SEC championship game winner: Alabama. We’ll get a rematch of the “Third Saturday in October” for the first time in SEC championship game history, and Alabama will notch its 10th and 11th straight wins over the Vols in 2016.
SEC Offensive Player of the Year: Fournette. He was the best player in the conference last year and will threaten the SEC rushing record again this fall.
SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Tim Williams. If he notched 10.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss last season as a rotational player, imagine the havoc Williams will wreak with a bigger workload.
SEC Freshman of the Year: Tyler Byrd. Maybe Byrd -- a two-way player in high school -- has a lot to learn about playing slot receiver in the SEC, but he’ll quickly give Tennessee a dangerous weapon in the passing game.
SEC Coach of the Year: Jones. His team came close to breaking through last season, but this fall will claim the Vols' first SEC East title since 2007.
Sam Khan Jr.
SEC East winner: Tennessee. The Vols have the most returning talent, the division’s best quarterback and a deep front seven. If not now, when?
SEC West winner: LSU. The defense will be even better under Dave Aranda, and they have college football’s best player (Fournette); I’m betting Brandon Harris takes a big step forward at quarterback.
SEC championship game winner: LSU. It’s the Tigers’ time. Les Miles was on the brink last November, but this year he'll pull a rabbit out of his hat and find a way to get them to the playoff.
SEC Offensive Player of the Year: Fournette. After getting snubbed from the Heisman ceremony last year, he’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again by being even better this year.
SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Garrett. He said his goal is 20 sacks for the Aggies, and he just might be good enough to get there.
SEC Freshman of the Year: Devwah Whaley, Arkansas. Bret Bielema called Whaley the most talented high school back he has coached, and with carries up for grabs in the Hogs’ backfield, look for Whaley to make a splash.
SEC Coach of the Year: Jones. When the Vols win the SEC East, he’ll be a popular choice, especially considering how Tennessee has improved each year he has been in charge.
SEC East winner: I’ve been picking Florida all summer, but Tennessee has more talent and more experience at quarterback. Give me the Volunteers (for good this time).
SEC West winner: No changes here. I still think Alabama beats LSU in Baton Rouge and wins the division yet again. It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is.
SEC championship game winner: Tennessee might beat Alabama in the regular season, but not in Atlanta with a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line. I’ll take the Tide to three-peat as conference champions.
SEC Offensive Player of the Year: Barring injury, Fournette is going to win this honor. Even if LSU doesn’t win the West, he’s still the best player in the SEC.
SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Garrett is the easy choice. But if Tennessee wins the East, don’t be surprised if Jalen Reeves-Maybin finally gets some recognition. The guy is a stud.
SEC Freshman of the Year: It all depends on opportunity. If running back Devwah Whaley gets enough opportunities at Arkansas, he’s going to be a star for the Razorbacks.
SEC Coach of the Year: Everybody expects Saban to win. It’s why he hasn’t been named SEC Coach of the Year since 2009. I suspect that will change this year barring a surprise team emerging out of the East (i.e. Florida last year).
SEC East winner: Until I see Tennessee beat a ranked opponent (they're 1-7 the last two seasons against teams that finished in the AP top 25), I have to side with Florida, which will benefit from a more consistent (but not earth-shattering) passing game.
SEC West winner: Lane Kiffin will work wonders at quarterback yet again, the receiver corps will be among the best in the country and the defense will be lights out yet again to lead Alabama back to a West title.
SEC championship game winner: Florida's offense won't be dynamic enough to keep Alabama from extending its streak of conference championship game wins to five.
SEC Offensive Player of the Year: When Fournette breaks the 2,000-yard rushing mark this season, there won't be an argument against the award being his.
SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Garrett told me his goal is 20 sacks this year, and I believe he'll get it.
SEC Freshman of the Year: Greg Little and Derrick Brown are intriguing, but I don't think they'll have the numbers to win the award. So with that said, I turn to Whaley, who I think will produce immediately in Arkansas' running game.
SEC Coach of the Year: He won't win the award (it'll probably be Saban after being snubbed the last six years), but if Mason leads Vanderbilt to a bowl game, he deserves it.