Aug 14, 2008
(Pre)Ranking the SEC, Part 1
*Preemptive edit: I suck at math, so I'm taking the final records off of these predictions. If someone good at math would like to help me, feel free*
NCAA Football kicks off before the NFL officially starts, so I've decided to do a preview of SEC football, since I care the most about it, and I irrationally hate all other conferences. That said, here's a look at how I think the best conference in the nation shakes out:
Darren McFadden isn't walking through that door! Felix Jones isn't walking through that door! Unfortunatly for the Razorback faithful, it appears that Bobby Petrino is walking through that door...for now at least. He's taking over a team that has gaping holes in lots of positions, and is just plain weak on defense. They skated to 4-4 conference record last year because of that dynamic running game. Did he think McFadden and Jones were coming back again this year?
5. Mississippi State
While an impressive 4-4 SEC record had them Bowl Bound last year, the 2008 slate sees them having to travel a lot for their tougher games. Trips to LSU, Tennesee, and Alabama don't bode well for the OTHER Bulldogs' SEC record, but an easy non-conference schedule could have them poised for another bowl bid.
4. Ole Miss
This is how you bounce back kids. The first team on this list that didn't go 4-4 in the SEC last year...because they were too busy going 0-8. No matter, Houston Nutt and company can only improve this year, and improve they shall. Lead by BenJarvus Green-Ellis' running attack, and Jevan Snead FINALLY taking snaps, look for this team to rise, and rise quickly.
Year two of the Nick Saban project is going to be full of new faces; not just because Alabama is finally not under NCAA sanction, but also because he has brought in one of the strongest freshman classes in the nation. While the maturation of John Parker Wilson will help, an opening loss to Clemson will be an inital setback, the tough road games will keep them from finishing higher than third, even if I think they are going to win the rivalry game with our number 2 team.
New offense. New QB. Same old speed on defense. These are the recipies for a great showing by the Tigers in 2008. With a mostly favorable scheduele, look for the Tigers to gain momentum early. Plus, they get their two toughest tests at home, one early (LSU) and one late (UGA). The time in between these two tough games is a real trap for this team to get complacent, as they have to travel to Morgantown and deal with the always tough Mountaineers. If they can avoid the injury bug, and handle two big rivalry games to close the season, look for a good bit of NC talk in Auburn, Alabama.
Okay, there's no point ignoring the elephant in the room. Or should I say, the Tiger not in the room. Yes, there is a gaping hole at quarterback. Some would say an overbearing, inignorable, festering wound. But I'm not that mean. It's the rest of this team that has me excited to put them at number 1 in the West; same dominating defense, same exciting skill positions. Plus, they're throwing an ex-Ivy Leaguer under center, at least to start. How can you not cheer for that?