SEC Power Rankings 2016: Pre-Week 1

Nov 7, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama won 30-16. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama won 30-16. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 18, 2014; Little Rock, AR, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tailback Nick Chubb (27) rushes against the Arkansas Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium. Georgia defeated Arkansas 45-32. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2014; Little Rock, AR, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tailback Nick Chubb (27) rushes against the Arkansas Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium. Georgia defeated Arkansas 45-32. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

Close wins versus good opponents.

These are wins that will be impressive at the time, but may lose value as the season progresses depending on if the loser can stay relevant nationally. These wins that will intrigue the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, but may not have that wow factor about them. Domination in these type of games isn’t as important as beating the quality opponent.

The Georgia Bulldogs will play a neutral-site game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta versus the North Carolina Tar Heels. This will be Kirby Smart’s first game as the Bulldogs head coach. Georgia will be a 3.5-point favorite with Nick Chubb taking carries in the backfield.

North Carolina should be one of two teams vying for an ACC Coastal Championship with Mark Richt’s new team in the Miami Hurricanes. The Tar Heels are ranked at No. 22 and are probably a top 25 team for most of 2016. Georgia is just slightly better as the No. 18 team in the country and should win a close one at the Georgia Dome on September 3rd.

Beating North Carolina will improve Georgia’s ranking in the AP top 25. Maybe the Bulldogs begin Week 2 inside of the top 15? North Carolina will fall out of the top 25 with a loss, but should return once ACC play gets under way. Georgia could be as high as No. 2 or No. 3 in Week 1’s SEC power rankings depending on how good the Bulldogs and Tar Heels look.

The LSU Tigers begin the 2016 NCAA season as the No. 5 team in the country for a reason. They have a Heisman front runner at running back in junior Leonard Fournette. Les Miles’ defenses are usually chock full of NFL talent. The Tigers shouldn’t have much of a problem putting away Wisconsin in Week 1 at Lambeau Field.

LSU is a 10-point favorite in a neutral-site game in Green Bay, Wisconsin versus the Badgers. The Tigers are more likely to dominate the Badgers than Georgia will do against North Carolina. That and the game being played in Green Bay helps LSU finish ahead of Georgia, landing in the top three this week.

LSU may have a quality win in Week 1, depending entirely on how strong Wisconsin is this season. The Badgers should be in contention for a Big 10 West Division title with the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Northwestern Wildcats. Wisconsin may not be a perennial fixture in the top 25 this fall, especially after a Week 1 defeat to LSU.

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