2010 College Football Predictions: 25 Bold SEC Statements
Suppose you were asked to define the Southeastern Conference in terms of what will happen in 2010.
Would the most important item be who will win the conference crown?
Could the team best positioned to win the title in 2011 be more important?
Will the group of coaches on hand for this season be in the same position by year's end?
The history of the SEC indicates success on the field will be measured in terms of national rankings as well as bowl results.
It is possible the Southeastern Conference accumulates more victories this season than any other conference has ever tallied. If so, does that mean the SEC in 2010 is the strongest league of all time?
Because of such national interest, let us look at what may develop in the 2010 season of the SEC.
Shocking Losses in 2010
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No. 1: Alabama will lose to the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game.
No. 2: Georgia will lose at Colorado to Dan Hawkins and his Buffaloes.
No. 3: Fresno State will defeat Ole Miss in Oxford.
Why not? If Alabama and Florida are going to play ping-pong with the BCS title, then one would expect the ball to be in the corner of the Gators in even years.
Georgia will play on New Year's Day, but expect the trip to mile-high land to result in an upset winner.
Pat Hill prepares his teams well for road trips. The Bulldogs will shock an unbeaten Rebel team.
Surprise Plays in 2010
No. 1: Mississippi State will win more games than Tennessee.
No. 2: Arkansas will lose four games.
No. 3 Ole Miss will start fast and qualify for a bowl game.
The Volunteers will find themselves in a difficult situation this season, but it is not one they will remain in for long.
Dan Mullen has done an excellent job preparing Mississippi State for a successful year in 2010.
Relax, Razorback fans—you'll play on New Year's Day.
Ole Miss has won the past two Cotton Bowl games; in fact, the Rebels have won the last three times they've been invited to the gala event in Dallas.
Small comfort to those fans still sore over losing the showdown with Texas (see pictured) in the 1961 season Cotton Bowl.
That was when the Cotton Bowl was really "The Cotton Bowl" and equal to the Rose, Orange, and Sugar Bowls.
Startling Results in 2010
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No. 1: Jeremiah Masoli will make a huge impact at quarterback for Ole Miss.
No. 2: Brett Favre's nephew, Dylan, will be the starting quarterback at Mississippi State by Halloween.
No. 3: Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina will lead all SEC freshmen in rushing yards.
Face it—Masoli just might be the best player in the SEC. Rebel coach Houston Nutt is going to run the Wild Rebel (Hog) set until someone tames it.
Just a hunch about Favre: If he doesn't get the starting nod, he'll probably announce his retirement.
Let's think about Lattimore for a moment. Have you seen the Gamecock passing attack? Who else do they have at running back? Right; of course you agree once the facts are on the table.
Business as Usual in 2010
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No. 1: Vanderbilt will not qualify for a postseason bowl.
No. 2: Steve Spurrier will bench quarterback Stephen Garcia for one game.
No. 3: Tennessee fans will be accepting of Derek Dooley.
The Commodores will not improve upon last year's two-win total. Say, why do you think Bobby Johnson retired last month?
Spurrier always benches Garcia. Spurrier constantly says, "Garcia is holding on to the ball too long, resulting in too many sacks."
Dooley is a breath of fresh air for Knoxville. He will be given time to produce a return to winning ways because he is infinitely more likable than Lane Kiffin.
Individual Notes for 2010
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No. 1: Mark Ingram of Alabama will finally lead the SEC in rushing average per game.
No. 2: A.J. Green of Georgia will win the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in the nation.
No. 3: D.J. Williams of Arkansas will be declared the best tight end in the SEC.
Anthony Dixon of Mississippi State led the SEC in rushing yards per game last season, averaging 126 to Mark Ingram's 118. Dixon has moved on to professional football.
Green is so good he may not come back for his senior season in Athens. He will have a less experienced quarterback who will depend upon Green to make "the big catch" throughout the game.
Ryan Mallett has to throw to someone when he goes to the hot read. With all the blitzing packages put in place for Bobby Petrino's Hogs in 2010, expect Williams to be a finalist for the John Mackey Award.
Unforgettable Moments in 2010
No. 1: When Joe Paterno steps on the field in Tuscaloosa to become the winningest major college coach to ever set foot on that field.
No. 2: When Derek Dooley takes his Tennessee Volunteers to Athens, Georgia for a game against the program his father led to the national championship in 1980.
No. 3: When first-year Kentucky coach Joker Phillips takes his Wildcats to Louisville to take on first-year coach Charlie Strong, a former SEC defensive coordinator at South Carolina and Florida.
There is so much history between Joe Paterno and Alabama that one has to believe this game will be closer than it looks on paper.
Young Dooley may not be able to handle the butterflies prior to kickoff when he goes home to Athens, but at least he can be thankful he does not have to face his father's greatest player, Herschel Walker (see picture).
The meeting of two African American coaches with such strong SEC roots speaks volumes about how far the conference and region have advanced since Bear Bryant was the Kentucky coach and Johnny Unitas was the quarterback at Louisville.
Gator Bowl Selection
2010 marks the return of the SEC to the Gator Bowl selection process. Prior to the permanent January 1 date put in place as of the 1995 season, the SEC was a frequent visitor to this Jacksonville Bowl.
In the 1970 season Gator Bowl two SEC teams faced off. Auburn, led by quarterback Pat Sullivan (see picture), defeated Ole Miss, led by quarterback Archie Manning, 35-28.
The Gator will now match teams from the SEC and Big Ten on New Year's Day.
One of the older and more mature bowls, the northern Florida event began following the 1945 season.
Whoever is chosen to represent the SEC has the responsibility of carrying the entire conference reputation in this historic game.
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No. 1: Following another under .500 performance in 2010, the controversial era of Dan Hawkins at Colorado will come to an end.
The administration in Boulder, recognizing they will be joining the Pac-10 in 2011, wishes to make a clear statement of intent to compete and win.
As a result, Colorado will reach out to a former assistant coach of the Buffaloes, Les Miles. Miles spent five seasons on staff at Colorado and will be embraced as a savior for the once proud program.
No. 2: If the above does take place and Miles goes to Colorado, where he will be appreciated and have an opportunity to get into the Rose Bowl, a huge opening in Baton Rouge will attract a number of viable candidates.
If UNC does not embarrass itself against LSU in this year's opener, look for Butch Davis to be the head coach at LSU in 2011. Be careful what you wish for, Tiger fans; Davis is 16-18 against major college competition during his time in Chapel Hill. Could be he is all hat and no cattle.
No. 3: If Mack Brown does not step down at Texas after this season, there will be tremendous pressure on the new Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity to bring Longhorn assistant “coach-in-waiting” Will Muschamp home to his alma mater.
In another case of look before you leap, current Georgia head coach Mark Richt has won 77 percent of his games in nine years in Athens. Legendary former Bulldog headman Vince Dooley won 72 percent of his games at Georgia.
What Is the Final Verdict?
No. 1: The SEC will be strong in 2010, strong enough to produce two legitimate BCS champions in Florida and Alabama.
No. 2: The overall strength of the conference will be measured by seven of the 12 teams finishing in the Top 25 rankings.
No. 3: This will not be the strongest year ever for the SEC.
While the SEC will produce two BCS title contenders, the problems at perennial power Tennessee and the slight backward swing at previous national champions LSU and Georgia will prevent the conference from separating itself at the top from the Big Ten and possibly the Big 12 in 2010.
The SEC will have more teams in bowl games than any other conference. The quality of the middle to lower middle teams is without equal in the nation.
One only has to look at the record book to see there have been other seasons with several SEC teams capable of winning the national title. In the 1971 season, three SEC teams were undefeated on the year going into the final two weeks of the season. In 1961 the SEC finished No. 1, 2, and 4 in a final regular season poll.
So while the SEC is powerful in 2010, it has been stronger at times in the past.