The crystal football has resided in the SEC for the past 4 years. And everyone this year seems to think that the path to the BCS title will involve the SEC champion, even if they have one loss. Well, that’s a nice story, but it doesn’t hold water. Sure, the SEC is the premier football conference in the nation. Great games, great coaches and story lines, great stadiums, great tailgating, great way of life during the fall. But all 12 teams will be disappointed this year when only the winner gets to play in the Sugar Bowl. And news flash, it won’t be the Elephants from ‘Bama.
Before I get started, I don’t understand how Vol fans are mad at Lane Kiffin. I mean, really?! He was headed down a path that may have put you on probation, won 7 games (4-4 in conference) and didn’t do much other than piss off the other coaches in the league. If you want an arrogant fat mouth, who goes 7-6, why is Phil Fulmer gone??? If it were me, I would have organized a going away party for him. Good riddance.
Alabama is everyone’s preseason #1. Pre-season. I wish they wouldn’t come out with another poll until after the October 2 games. That would give the teams at least 4 chances to show what they have THIS year. It would also allow a few of the bigger non-conference games to have been settled, and some intriguing match-ups to set the course for the remainder of the conference tilt. I just hate when the pollsters rank teams up top, then they can’t be moved because they “should” have played better. That’s the beauty of college football. You can’t phone it in this week, just because the guys in Vegas say you should win by Vince Young’s Wonderlic score. (6 out of 50, if you were curious.) You HAVE to show up every week and every game matters.
This year’s version of the SEC reminds me of the good ‘ol Big Ten. Where the teams would beat each other up for 9 straight weeks and the team at the top of the heap was actually proud to be headed to Pasadena. The winner, survivor of the SEC this year will be ecstatic to be in the Sugar Bowl. Which means it won’t be Bama. There’s no way they would be content with just a trip to New Orleans. Having lost 9 starters on Defense they will struggle this year with the BCS hangover. There’s also that interesting little scheduling quirk where they play 6 teams, in conference, after a bye week. In their 12 game schedule, they don’t get to double digit wins in the regular season this year.
So, if it’s not Bama, then it has to be the Gators, right? With Tebow gone, the offense has to “re-learn” a normal attack, one where they have a very good general idea where the quarterback is at all times. And that’s where Urban Meyer thrives. He may have cut back with the off-season ailments, but John Brantley will step right in under center and shine like Florida QB’s do. By the October 2 game with the Tide, Brantley will have the Gator nation clamoring for #12 jerseys. Then of course, there’s the World’s Largest Cocktail Party. (Go ahead officials, drop the name from official use, but we all know what event you are talking about, nudge nudge, wink wink.) Who came up with the birght idea to hold this the day before Halloween?! Things could get ugly in Jacksonville. Real ugly.
There are two teams battling for the east, Georgia and Florida. There are two teams battling for the west, Bama and Arkansas. Les Miles will save his job this year, but barely. Auburn will be better, but not quite there yet. The ‘ol ball coach can’t find a QB that he likes, even though Garcia isn’t that bad, he has his own bedazzled water bowl Spurrier made for him.
John Brantley wins player of the year, but Ryan Mallet drops the hammer on the Gators in the SEC championsip game, passing for 400+ yards and 4 TD’s. But with 2 losses, the Razorbacks (nor the SEC) won’t be playing for the National Title this year.
Onto the predicted order of finish, with records:
1. Florida, 11-1, 7-1. Brantley is the real deal. The wide out corps is amazing, and can return kicks. The defense will be stout. Urban will be able to breath, for a little bit, especially after beating Bama on Oct 2, but will have nightmares on Halloween after losing to UGA while being ranked #1. They will still be in the BCS hunt until the SEC championship game.
2. Georgia, 9-3, 6-2. Beating the Gators will save Richt’s job for the year, unitl they close the season with losses to Auburn and the Yellow Jackets, removing any hopes of playing in a BCS bowl, yet alone for the national title. Close, but not quite.
3. South Carolina, 7-5, 4-4. Dag gummit. If Garcia hadn’t thrown that pick in the first quarter in September, we woulda had a chance...
4. Tennessee, 6-6, 4-4. No more Lane, same ol game. Funny how Peyton is remembered for bring the Vols up to prominence, but it was Tee Martin the next year that won the National Title… Give it a few more years to simmer to see what Dooley can muster up. Any Volunteers?
5. Kentucky, 4-8, 1-7. Have they gotten over throwing parties due to the issues at Louisville yet? Oh wait, we have to play football now? Where’s the Hefty Lefty? Gone? Well, at least we have the 3 best Freshman basketball recruits in the country. What’s that? Gone too?! What time does the Jim Beam open…
6. Vanderbilt, 2-10, 0-8. Even the student body won’t bother to hold SEC tradition and put their ties on for football games this year. Can’t really blame them.
1. Arkansas, 10-2, 6-2. Mallett will have a few softies to get his ankle squared away before back-to-back weeks with UGA and Bama in late September. They go 1-1 in those games, and fall late to LSU, but will have wrapped up the west in late October. The Razorbacks will wander south for the Sugar Bowl this year after putting up the most points of the year against a stout Gator defense in the SEC championship game. We might even get a John Daly siting or two…
2. Alabama, 9-3, 5-3. After beating JoPa easily on Septemeber 11, there will be rumblings of repeating. But don’t fall into that trap. Ingram will put up nice numbers, but not Heisman invite worthy. McElroy will struggle with new defensive schemes, and having to play from behind a lot more. The defense will want to play well, and that’s nice, but won’t cut it in the SEC. When are you going to bail on this team Saban???
3. LSU, 8-4, 5-3. Les will save his job by beating Arkansas in the last game of the year, but that will only get him to 8 wins this year. Russell Sheppard will turn into this year’s Dexter McCluster putting up highlight real plays, but there won’t be enough glue to keep things together.
4. Auburn, 7-5, 5-3. It will be fun to watch them in some shootouts this year. Get the popcorn out and watch the fun that is Auburn football, that is if you aren’t rooting for them.
5. Ole Miss, 8-4, 4-4. Next year. Next year. This should be the year to strike, but the Rebels just aren’t poised to get the job done. A few shockers here and there, but not enough consistency.
6. Mississippi State, 4-8, 1-7. Maybe the catfish will be biting this fall…