I figure that I will do previews for all the conferences in BCS subdivision of Division I football. This is in anticipation of doing football picks this year yet again. I am starting out with the best conference in football (Boo!), the SEC.
1. Georgia. No LSU, Alabama, or Arkansas on the schedule. The only real challenge should be South Carolina and they are underachievers. Aaron Murray is a 3rd Year starter at QB and Mark Richt is off the hot seat down in Athens. An 11-1 Regular season is not out of the question with an SEC record of 7-1.
2. Florida. Will Muschamp is getting the Gators pointed in the right direction and is looking like more of an enforcer for rules and regulations than Urban Meyer ever was in Gainsville. The defense will carry this team. The running game is going to determine how good the offense looks and the QB battle looks like it will extend to the entire season. 8-4 Overall, 5-3 SEC.
3. South Carolina. Connor Shaw looks like a good choice to lead the Gamecock attack. If Marcus Lattimore can come back from a knee injury, the Gamecocks will be strong running the ball. The defense should be able to rush the passer. However, I see a drop off from the Gamecocks from their high ranking over the past two years. 8-4 Overall, 4-4 SEC.
4. Vanderbilt. I am high on James Franklin and what he is doing for the Commodores. The offense looks like it is ready to build on what it became late last year in averaging 32 points in their last 7 games. The big question is how the back 7 on defense will hold up with 3 great starters gone due to graduation. 8-4 Overall, 4-4 SEC.
5. Missouri. I am not understanding the outlook that most people have for Missouri. They could never crack the elite level in the Big 12 but yet now they come into the SEC and are supposed to challenge the top teams? Really? The Tigers have their QB coming off shoulder surgery in March, their top RB underwent two knee surgeries and they only have one returning receiver that did much. The offensive line graduated three starters. The two experienced defensive lineman are coming off shoulder surgeries as well. The back 7 are experienced but could wear down as the season goes on. 7-5 Overall, 3-5 SEC.
6. Tennessee. 18 returning starters for the Vols. The passing game should be good to great. The defense is an attacking defense with multiple sets and blitzes. That is good for negative plays but also allows big plays by the opponents. Watch for teams to utilize draws and runs against the attacking defense. 6-6 Overall, 3-5 SEC.
7. Kentucky. I like what Joker Phillips has done at Kentucky. It is just bad luck that he coaches in the SEC at a Basketball school. The big question is the offensive line. The Wildcats have upgraded at QB and have explosive skill position players of the offensive side of the ball. The defense has six new starters. the line will be the anchor for the defense. The two DT's might be the best tandem in the SEC. The Linebackers are all new starters. There are 2 new starting CB's. There are signs that the fan base is becoming restless. 5-7 Overall, 2-6 SEC.
1. LSU. I have a feeling that Les Miles took the criticism of his coaching in last year's BCS Championship Game and put it into the gameplan for this year. The QB is strong-armed and a good decision maker. The offensive line looks like the same mauling unit that has been established in Baton Rouge. The defensive line will still be strong and the elimination of the distraction of Tyrann Mathieu is addition by subtraction. Look for the Tigers to go through the Regular season unscathed yet again. 12-0 Overall, 8-0 SEC.
2. Alabama. Nick Saban won a National Title last year without winning his conference or division. It won't happen this year. The offense should be in good shape with the offensive line showing the way. It is the defense where the questions will be. 3 new starters in the secondary and they are very young in the linebacker position. That isn't saying that they aren't talented, just not real experienced. They are still 1/2 step behind the Bayou Tigers. 11-1 Overall, 7-1 SEC
3. Arkansas. The Hogs should still have a prolific offense. Tyler Wilson is an All-SEC QB. The receivers will be new, but the results should not fall off significantly. The defense is a question mark. 6 new starters, a starting Defensive End moved to Linebacker to help solidify that unit. And a new head coach. I don't think that John L. Smith will cause the distractions that Bobby Petrino did. However, I don't think that Smith is as good of a coach. 9-3 Overall, 5-3 SEC.
4. Auburn. The Tigers have a new offensive coordinator that is trying to keep his offense secret until the games matter. They have running backs, but the air route for offense is the question for the Tigers. On defense, the Tigers also have a new coordinator. Health will be at a premium for Auburn. A rash of injuries could show the lack of depth for this talented team. The Special teams should pull out a win or two. The familiarization or lack thereof to the schemes of the coordinators will prevent Auburn from seriously challenging the Top 3 of the East. 6-6 Overall, 3-5 SEC.
5. Texas A&M. New Conference, same problems. Another team that couldn't quite climb the summit in the Big 12 and is now playing in the toughest division of the toughest conference in America. It will be a shock for the people in College Station when the Aggies are near the bottom of the standings. The offense is still a potent unit and should become even stronger with the return of Christine Michael from a torn ACL. The downside is that the Aggies defense doesn't look any better from their days in the Big 12. There are questions on all three levels of the defense. Look for high scoring games where the defense more often or not come up short. 7-5 Overall, 3-5 SEC.
6. Mississippi State. Dan Mullen is a good coach, but I don't think he will be at Mississippi State for much longer. The line and backfield field 6 new starters. At least the Wideouts return. The Bulldog defense looks good on paper against the pass, but opponents didn't have to throw to move the ball against the Bulldogs. If Mississippi State were in the East Division, they might be the 4th place team, but in the West, they are happy to stay out of last. 5-7 Overall, 2-6 SEC.
7. Mississippi. Welcome to being a Head Coach in the SEC, Coach Hugh Freeze. RB Jeff Scott is the player on offense for the Rebels. Coach Freeze has a QB battle that will continue into the regular season and 4 new starters on the Offensive Line. I don't see a real big offensive outburst coming from Oxford. The defense is looking for playmakers off the edge and might be overmatched at the Linebacker position. Breaking the SEC losing streak will have to wait another year. At the end of this year it will be 0-22. 3-9 Overall, 0-8 SEC.
SEC Championship Game: LSU defeats Georgia.
National Title: LSU
Capital One: Florida
Chick-Fil-A: South Carolina
Music City: Texas A&M
BBVA Compass: Missouri