This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the power five college football conferences by division. While I am not attempting to pick the conference champion here, this series will give you the most likely participants in the conference championship games.

The following is the predicted order of regular season finish of the SEC eastern division. The order of finish was determined by utilizing a numerical grading system which rewards teams based on their assessed position in relation to the other teams in nine individual categories.

These are: quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers, secondary, special teams and schedule

  • 1) Tennessee
  • 2) Georgia
  • 3) Florida
  • 4) Kentucky
  • 5) Missouri
  • 6) South Carolina
  • 7) Vanderbilt

The following is a brief review of each team Numbers 7 through 5:

7) Vanderbilt:Derek Mason added the defensive coordinator's duties to his job as head coach in 2015. For the Commodores, the much needed change made a huge difference. Suddenly, they were a competitive team again. Competitive, yes -- winning games --still, not so much. Vandy finished the year 4-8 and just missed a win over Florida (7-9) and had another close call (10-19) at South Carolina in the second half of the season.

This year expect sophomore QB Kyle Shurmur to help shake awake an offense that averaged 15.2 points per game in 2015. This number had the Commodores ranked 123rd out of 128total teams. Add the 3rd rated running back group in the SEC eastern division and improving offensive line play and the running game looks to improve on their 2015 numbers.

Vandy doesn't have a group of great wide-outs who can get separation on the long balls down field or who can go up in one-on-ones and come down with the ball every play. But they do have some capable receivers. Add in tight ends who are expected to catch as well as block and the makings of a much improved offense is here.

Coach Mason has been quoted saying that the defense will be even more improved in 2016.

6) South Carolina:the Gamecocks turned out to be the perfect team for me to point to when explaining to my son that he should enjoy when his favorite SEC team is at the top--or at least, doing very well. I explained to him how quickly it could all change, without warning.

After the2013 Capitol One Bowl, Steve Spurrier was celebrating his South Carolina team's 34-24 win over Wisconsin. The win gave the Gamecock's their third consecutive 11 win season, a feat never before accomplished by South Carolina Football.

During hisimpromptu speech, the soon-to-be Hall of Fame Coach made reference to the three 11-win seasons in a row, then said 'but that 5 times state championship in row ain't bad either.' Referring to the Gamecock's winning five-in-a-row over in state rival Clemson.

Since, Clemson has won the last two and the Gamecocks have finished 7-6 and 3-9 and changed coaching staffs.If you are a South Carolina fan, in that moment in 2013, you had to feel it would never end. South Carolina is rebuilding again this year. Don't expect a huge season in terms of wins if you are a Gamecock fan.

5) Missouri:Long-term -- and highly successful -- head coach Gary Pinkel retired after a 15 year stint with Missouri. Pinkel lead Missouri to the SEC Championship Game in 2013 and 2014, it's first two years in the league. Though they didn't win, the 12-2 and 11-3 seasons garnered them immediate respect from all levels of the conference. Pinkel retired after last season and long-term defensive assistant, Barry Odom got the job.

Odom was Defensive Coordinator the new SEC Eastern Team in 2015. His defense finished the year ranked 11th in college football. So, he knows what he is doing. Still, this is year one of a rebuilding job. We'll see how it goes, but don't expect this team to lay down with Odom at the helm.

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