Alright gang, with all my stuff moved into the brand new home office in Oakdale, I decided to take a break from my moving in and cleaning up to give the masses what they need, the preseason SEC football rankings.
1. Florida (13-1 in 2008) Defending national champions and all-world quarterback Tim Tebow is set to again rule the college football world. However, seven starters return on offense, but 11 will return on defense, including linebacker Brandon Spikes, who returned two interceptions for touchdowns in 2008.
2. Tennessee (5-7) The Lane Kiffin era in Knoxville has begun on a somewhat contentious note, given the many things that Kiffin over the offseason. Hopefully, Kiffin won’t have to eat humble pie during the SEC portion of the season.
3. LSU (8-5) The Bayou Bengals could do no better than a berth to the Chik-Fil-A Bowl in 2008, where they defeated Georgia Tech, but with running back Charles Scott and quarterback Jordan Jefferson returning, the Bayou Bengals could be the odds-on favorite to win the SEC West in 2009.
4. South Carolina (7-6) In 2007, it seemed as if the world was the Gamecocks’ and that the SEC Nation was just living in it. Then the proverbial splat came to Columbia and the Gamecocks missed out on bowling. In 2008, the Gamecocks raced to a 7-3 start, only to lose three straight including the Outback Bowl loss to Iowa. The strength coming into the 2009 season is from the defense, which returns players like Eric Norwood and Cliff Matthews. Norwood led the team with nine sacks and collected 75 tackles while Matthews collected three sacks for the Gamecocks.
5. Ole Miss (9-4) Is it just me or is it that Houston Nutt did more with Coach O’s players than Coach O did with Coach O’s players? In a season that saw the Rebels win the Cotton Bowl over Texas Tech and Florida in Gainesville, the expectations of the Rebel Nation are higher than ever before. Jevan Snead is back at quarterback while end Greg Hardy leads the defense in what could be another banner season in Oxford.
6. Alabama (12-2) After winning the SEC West in 2008 and a 12-0 regular season, the Tide looks to be in rebuilding mode this season. Replacing John Parker Wilson at quarterback is Greg McElroy, who impressed Nick Saban in spring practices. Another bowl berth should be in the cards for the Tide, but games against Virginia Tech in Atlanta and road trips to Ole Miss and Auburn will test the Tide’s season and figuring out where it will be at the end of the season. The good thing is that Tennessee and LSU are visiting the Capstone, so those games should be barometers in the Tide’s season as well.
7. Georgia (10-3) Joe Cox takes over at quarterback for the departed Matthew Stafford while sophomore Caleb King fills in for Knowshon Moreno at running back in Athens. Don’t think just because the Dawgs lost Stafford and Moreno, the talent that was left between the hedges was little to none. Who knows, the Dawgs could surprise some people.
8. Auburn (5-7) The anemic offense last year became the ultimate sin that deposed Tommy Tuberville in the Plains. Enter Gene Chizik, who previously served as a defensive coordinator at Auburn and later Texas, who had five wins in two seasons at Iowa State. Running back Ben Tate returns and with it the hopes of a 1,000 yard season in the Plains.
9. Kentucky (7-6) History has been kind to the Wildcats’ football over the last three years, acheiving three straight bowl berths for the first time since the Bear Bryant era. However, with only John Conner and T.C. Drake returning at wide receiver, quarterback Mike Hartline will have to do a lot more than he did last year in Lexington.
10. Vanderbilt (7-6) After winning their first bowl game in 53 seasons and finishing behind Florida and Georgia in the SEC East, the Commodores look to break down more doors in the West End.
11. Arkansas (5-7) Let me say this, Petrino did less with Houston Nutt’s players than Houston Nutt did with his players at Arkansas. After getting a huge helping of humble pie after leaving the Atlanta Falcons, Petrino struggled in his first season but there should be hope on the horizon. Just not this year.
12. Mississippi State (4-8) Coach Mullen, while I think it was cool to tweet from the podium during SEC Media Days, you probably better save those tweets for after the games against Auburn, Florida, LSU, and Ole Miss. It’ll be fun to hear what you tweet.