SEC Midseason Predictions: LSU, USC Set the Pace

Joseph AlbersonAnalyst IOctober 8, 2007

We’re at the mid-point in the college football season and the conferences races are starting to heat up.

One conference in particular that annually factors into the national title picture is the Southeastern Conference.

Let’s take a look at how the SEC race is shaking down so far.

LSU is in the drivers’ seat in the SEC West and has the best record in the conference—not to mention the #1 ranking in college football.  The Tigers look to be the most complete team in the nation. 

LSU has five games remaining against SEC opponents, only two of which are ranked. 

But if we have learned anything from this year so far—it’s to expect the unexpected.  The most intriguing matchups left for the Tigers are versus Auburn and Alabama.

These are two games where I can see LSU stumbling, but I don’t think they will.  If LSU passes these two tests, look for the Tigers to win the BCS.

In the Eastern division, the South Carolina Gamecocks are in first place thanks to strong performances from their defense, opportune plays by their special teams, and good-enough play from the offense.  The Gamecocks are currently ranked 7th, but still have a tough road ahead.

A tough three game stretch awaits, where USC travels to Tennessee and Arkansas—and then welcomes in the Gators.  Tennessee looked very impressive in their 35-14 victory over Georgia, and the Volunteers will be looking to regain control of the SEC.

The Gamecocks have been very susceptible to the run this year, so look for Arkansas to present a problem.  If the Gamecocks can put 8 or 9 men in the box and force the Razorbacks to pass, USC can win.  But if McFadden and Jones get unleashed, look out for the upset.

Spurrier has had success versus his alma mater, and I think the trend will continue.  For one, the game is being played in Columbia.  Second, the Gamecocks had a chance to win last year if not for special team errors—an area where USC is vastly improved this year.  Look for USC to be

8-2 when they face Florida.

The East continues to be the most interesting race with 3 to 4 teams still with a chance to win the division.

The Florida Gators are next in line in the East.  The Gators face a tougher road than most ahead with three out of their four remaining SEC games versus ranked opponents—albeit two of those teams are on the way out of the top-25. 

The November 10th matchup versus South Carolina will decide who faces LSU in the SEC title game.  However, the Gators could stumble with games at Kentucky and Georgia with the emotional let down after the LSU game.  The next game versus Kentucky will prove pivotal in the success of the Gators for the rest of the season.  Win—and look forward for the matchup versus South Carolina, lose—and it’s all over for the Gators.

Tennessee and Georgia still factor into the race in the East.  Both of the above mentioned above  have a victory against either Tennessee or Georgia.  How USC fares versus Tennessee and Florida versus Georgia will be a big factor in the East race.

Out of these two teams, Tennessee is obviously the better team.  And the Volunteers could still possibly prevail in the East.

Kentucky was exposed by South Carolina as not-as-good-as-they-thought-they-were.  Look for the Wildcats to finish with a bowl, but not a factor into the SEC East race.

As far as the West, goes—LSU is in total control and will win the West.  Auburn will challenge LSU, but LSU will pass the test.  You can’t count out Arkansas while they have the best backfield in the country, but a one dimensional offense and below-average defense won’t cut it in the SEC.  Also, don't count out Saban and Alabama altogether, though their time will be in years to come.

SEC Title Prediction 

It’s going to be a rematch from September 22nd with the Tigers and Gamecocks facing off again.  Expect it to be closer this time, but with the same results.

LSU wins the SEC Title with a score of LSU 21, South Carolina 16.


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