SEC West Preview: A Race between Three Teams
The Alabama Crimson Tide ran away with the SEC West in 2008 as it posted an 8-0 record in the conference.
Alabama was led by a defense that ranked sixth in the nation last season by allowing only 13 points per game.
Looking ahead to 2009, the competition will be hot in the race to Atlanta for the SEC title game.
Contenders: Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU
Alabama has a good chance to repeat as SEC West Champs.
The Crimson Tide returns several key players on defense, including defensive back Javier Arenas. Last year, the Tide held opponents to under four yards per carry and only 78.8 yards per game.
The biggest question marks for Alabama are on the offensive side of the ball, where they lose quarterback John Parker Wilson. The running backs are solid, but Alabama loses some offensive linemen and that, coupled with a new quarterback, signals trouble.
One popular pick in the SEC West is Ole Miss because of their impressive six-game winning streak to end the season with victories at LSU and against Texas Tech.
Jevan Snead is no doubt one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC and the offense will be very productive.
The schedule is also in the Rebels' favor as they get Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and LSU all at home.
Ole Miss loses some experience on the defensive line—most notably with the loss of Peria Jerry to the NFL. The Rebels were second to last in the SEC last year in passing yards allowed, and there will probably be some drop off on defense in 2009.
While the offense will be one of the best in the SEC, it may not be enough, unless the defense steps up and plays big.
The Tigers of LSU are looking to surprise the division after a 3-5 record in the SEC last year.
Jarrett Lee showed off his talent last season, as he threw for over 1,800 yards and 13 touchdowns, and the team rushed for 167 yards per game. Charles Scott returns for his senior year after an 18-touchdown season in 2008 and will lead the ground attack.
The defense for the Tigers is a possible weak spot. While they will improve with experience in 2009, last year their performance ranked them second to last in points allowed in the SEC.
LSU will also have to play well on the road as they face Georgia, Alabama, and Ole Miss all away from home.
Remainder of Division
While the top of the division looks solid and should be a close competition, the bottom side looks very poor.
Auburn, Arkansas, and Mississippi State all won only two games apiece in the division, and one common theme will be weak play at quarterback.
Will Alabama repeat as the SEC West champion? Can the Ole Miss offense carry them through the tough SEC defenses? Will LSU shock the conference and represent the West in the title game?
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