How The West Was Won in 2010

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How The West Was Won in 2010

I've seen a few writers chime in so now it's my turn.  This is how I think the SEC West will finish in 2010.  From an avowed homer's perspective.

First: Alabama

Finish: 12-0

No big surprise here.  The big question is can they make it a third straight undefeated season?  Well, who the heck is gonna stop them?

Alabama's offense finished fifteenth with the Nation's scoring leaders,  proving they could score with the best of them.  The Tide will finish higher in 2010.  This is a seasoned veteran offense taking the field this year.

With Ingram, Richardson and Lacy in the backfield teams will be forced to defend the run, opening up all kinds of passing lanes.  This could be the most high powered Alabama offense ever.

Alabama's defense finish second in the Nation in total yards last season.  Contrary to popular belief (hope?), Alabama's secondary will do just fine.  The cupboard wasn't exactly bare.  Plenty of game experience and plenty of players with a whole year in Saban's system to take up the slack.

The run defense and the pass rush will be a terrible thing to behold.  This alone will cause plenty of turnover opportunity.  Let's face it, Alabama will control the run game on both sides of the ball.  Sacks will go up this year.

Second: Arkansas

Finish: 10-2 

Second Toughest Game: @ Georgia

Arkansas finished number eight in passing and sixth in passing touchdowns last year according to NCAA stats.  But that was only good enough for an 8-5 (3-5 SEC) finish. But many of those SEC losses were close.

The Hogs are returning almost every one of last year's leaders in team stats like passing, receiving, sacks, tackles for loss, etc... Nine players on a pass happy offense are returning. 

If the offensive line and the defense can step up their game the Hogs can easily finish 10-2, with a possible second loss coming from Georgia or Auburn.

Third: LSU

Finish: 9-3

Second Toughest Game: @ Arkansas

Can LSU's sheer talent get them to a 9-3 finish without the coaching getting in the way?  It didn't help at the end of the Ole Miss fiasco.

Les Miles should take better control of his team this year.  His job depends on it.  No longer will he get away with blaming his offensive coordinators and players for what is ultimately his responsibility.

Not much going on at quarterback position.  Jordan Jefferson will be this year's starter.  I don't think he's any better than "Pick Six" Lee.  But LSU does have talent in other positions that could help them finish in third.

The Tigers will be looking at additional losses to Arkansas and Florida or North Carolina.  They didn't play too well in last season's opener in Washington and the Tar Heels are a better team.

Fourth: Mississippi State

Finish: 8-4

Second Toughest Game: @ Ole Miss

Everybody seems to be taking this team pretty lightly.  Remember, the Gators offense was better when Dan Mullen was running it.  They also did just as well in the SEC as two other western division teams. 

Finishing 5-7 is respectable for a first year coaching staff who played the toughest schedule in the NCAA last year.  In fact, it was the second toughest schedule in the past decade.  And it's tough again this year.

In addition to Alabama the Bulldog's will drop games to Arkansas, LSU and either Houston or Ole Miss.  But not Auburn.  That's why they'll finish fourth.

Fifth: Auburn

Finish 8-4

Second Toughest Game: Clemson

Predicting Auburn at 8-4 is being generous  A 7-5 finish is well with-in the realm of possibilities.  They'll lose almost every game to high scoring offenses this season.

The reason is they return almost all of their 12th SEC ranked defense.  In fact they  ranked in the bottom or middle-of-the-pack in almost every defensive stat that counts.  That's no way to win in the SEC.

Gus Malzhan's offense will get them through their non-conference schedule (with the exception of Clemson) but will begin to stall in SEC play, much like last season.  Cam Newton wasn't good enough for the SEC at Florida.  Auburn should be no different.

Auburn will lose to Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas and one or two additional games to either South Carolina, Georgia or Ole Miss.

Sixth: Ole Miss

Finish: 7-5

Second Toughest Game: @ LSU

Sorry Ole Miss, somebody had to sleep in the cellar.  How does it feel not being considered as good as Auburn?  But maybe you are.  If not a 6-6 finish is just as likely.

Maybe Jevon Snead's decision to not get drafted is a blessing in disguise.  Two wide-receivers are returning and none of their three QBs have a reputation to uphold.  Too much stress was placed on Snead's shoulders last year.  Well, at least for him.

Nothing to brag about for Ole Miss with only three offensive starters returning and only half of their defense.

Ole Miss will start out 5-0 (sound vaguely familiar?) but lose to Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and either Auburn or Mississippi State.

Of course all of this is in good fun.  Things change as the season progresses.  Injury occurs, grades get players benched, the occasional upset.  Most pre-season predictions never live up to what actually happens on the field.

I know a lot of people disagree with me.  But what the heck?  If everything plays out just like I predicted then I come out looking like a frickin' genius.  If that happens it may be, "good-bye Bleacher Report, hello ESPN."

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