SEC West Preseason Projections
The year 2011 marked one of the most controversial seasons in college football history, as the SEC continued its stranglehold over the national title. This year, the league will go after its seventh consecutive BCS National Championship.
Last year, Alabama and LSU made it clear that they were a step above the rest of the SEC. Look for more of the same this year, even with half of the national championship game now disbursed around the NFL.
Third in the West
Projected Regular Season Record 10-2
I usually don’t put much confidence in a team that has been through the type of turmoil that Bobby Petrino caused this season. However, because of its athletic ability, Arkansas still has the potential to be very dangerous this season.
Its explosive offense could challenge a young Alabama defense on September 15 in Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks' potential this season weighs heavily on the right arm of quarterback Tyler Wilson. Many consider Wilson to be the best quarterback in the SEC—and he will need to be if the Razorbacks want to move any closer to the top in the west.
Key dates for Arkansas this season include:
September 15 vs. Alabama – Projected Loss
November 10 @ South Carolina – Projected Win
November 23 vs. LSU – Projected Loss
Conclusion: Arkansas is one of the best teams in the country. But they are still not on the same level as Alabama and LSU.
Second in the West
Alabama Crimson Tide
Projected Regular Season Record 11-1
If a Nick Saban team could be described by one word, that word would be physical. This has been the key to his success as a college coach over the years. Saban is a hard-nosed coach from Appalachia and his players mirror this toughness.
The team is a skeleton of what it was last year, with AJ McCarron as the only statistical leader to return on either side of the ball. What the team lacks in experience at the skill positions, however, it makes up for in the trenches. Alabama has arguably the best OL/DL combination in the country, led by Barrett Jones at center and Jesse Williams at nose tackle.
This team could easily be in the title hunt come November; however, their lack of experience, as well as a hangover from last season could also cause them to drop a few winnable games.
Key dates for Alabama include:
September 1 vs. Michigan – Projected Win
September 15 @ Arkansas – Projected Win
November 3 @ LSU – Projected Loss
Conclusion: A Nick Saban team should never be taken lightly. LSU will need to play its best game if it expects to win November 3.
First in the West
Projected Regular Season Record 11-1
LSU returns with a ton of talent from the team that beat everyone last year. Just about the entire country has them running the table to get back to the national title game. However, all of these expectations lie squarely on the shoulders of unproven QB Zach Mettenberger.
If Mettenberger can meet the expectations, LSU will be hard to beat. But if he does not, Les Miles may be watching Nick Saban and the Tide roll once again.
Watch for LSU to get surprised at some point this season. It’s hard to believe that this team will go undefeated in the regular season in consecutive years. Watch out for Florida and South Carolina…
A bye week before hosting Alabama on November 3 gives them the edge.
Key dates for LSU Include:
October 13 v. South Carolina – Projected Loss
November 3 v. Alabama – Projected Win
November 23 @ Arkansas – Projected Win
Alabama and LSU are just too far ahead of the rest of the league at this point. Watch for Texas A&M to show promise but struggle with the grueling SEC schedule. Auburn plays Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Arkansas. Three of those four games are at home, but the Tigers would be lucky to steal one of them. Ole Miss may not get another win after September 22...
Projected SEC West Final Standings:
Texas A&M 6-6
Mississippi State 6-6
Ole Miss 3-9