The SEC has dominated the BCS lately, bringing home the last four BCS Championships, and this year could be no different. It’s the most competitive conference in the country and it’s hard to imagine a team going undefeated through it again but I think Alabama will.
Despite playing in the ultra-difficult SEC West, the Tide should have what it takes to make it back and defend their SEC title. Once again, the SEC Champ should play in the BCS Championship.
1. Florida (7-1) – A ton of experience has left the Gators for the NFL, but Urban Meyer has recruited well and there’s a ton of talent ready to step up and keep things going in Gainesville. You’ll see more of an aerial attack from the Gators than you have the past few years, but it’ll keep the wins piling up.
2. South Carolina (5-3) – This might be Steve Spurrier’s best team since taking over the Gamecocks. He’s got an outstanding defense and if Stephen Garcia can make some places in the passing game they’ll have a great season.
3. Georgia (5-3) – Mark Richt overhauled the defense after an atrocious year last year. He’s got to break in a quarterback, and that’s tough to do in the SEC, but he’s a tremendous coach and will have the Bulldogs back in the hunt.
4. Tennessee (2-6) – Derek Dooley had to step in to a difficult situation after Lane Kiffin departed. He’s just trying to get through this season and put that mess behind him. There’s some good young talent at Tennessee that’ll take their lumps this year but should get the experience to make strides for next season.
5. Kentucky (1-7) – Rich Brooks retired and left the team to Joker Phillips. They’ve got a shot at returning to a bowl but will need to pull off at least one upset to do so. I think fans in Lexington will be ready for basketball season come November. Shocking right?
6. Vanderbilt (0-8) – Robbie Caldwell was bumped up after Bobby Johnson retired on the even on training camp. Johnson built them up to respectable but it’s tough to stay there in the SEC. If Caldwell can win a game in the conference this year I’ll be impressed. He just doesn’t have the talent to compete on a weekly basis.
1. Alabama (8-0) – They’ve got to replace nine starters on defense, but that shouldn’t be a problem for Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. They’re defensive geniuses and will have the Tide ready. On offense, they return quarterback Greg McElroy and Heisman winner Mark Ingram, not to mention the great wide receiver Julio Jones.
2. Auburn (7-1) – Cam Newton becomes the QB for the Tigers and will make them a threat to overtake the Tide. Newton is a dynamic player who will help elevate the Tigers this year. They played well last year and coach Gene Chizik has them ready for a big 2010.
3. Arkansas (4-4) – Arkansas could be a breakout team again this year but they’ve got a difficult league schedule and while the defense is improved, will it be enough? Their offense is led by Ryan Mallett, a tremendous quarterback who will win a lot of shootouts, but having to score 35 every week in the SEC isn’t easy.
4. LSU (4-4) – Les Miles won a national title just a few years ago, yet people say this is a make-or-break season for him. He’s got to get the offense figured out. The defense will be strong as usual, but they’ve got to find a way to score points. If they do, this is a 10-win team.
5. Mississippi (4-4) – This is a tough team to figure out. They had huge expectations last year and fell flat. They lost some playmakers but gained former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Will Masoli be able to evade defenses in the SEC like he did in the Pac-10? That’s the wildcard. If he can, the Rebels might surprise a lot of teams.
6. Mississippi State (1-7) – Dan Mullins is getting things headed in the right direction but he’s still building a talent base to compete in the SEC. They’ll be better than last year but the record won’t show it.
Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide
Player of the Year: Ryan Mallett (Arkansas)
Coach of the Year: Gene Chizik (Auburn)
Top Five Games involving the SEC:
1. Florida at Alabama (Oct. 2) – Should be a preview/rematch of the SEC Championship. These are two talented teams and it’ll be interesting to see how John Brantley handles his first big road game as Gator quarterback.
2. Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 27) – I think both of these teams will come in to the 2010 Iron Bowl undefeated. That will make for a gigantic game with the winner becoming the SEC favorite and a shot at the BCS Championship just a game away.
3. LSU at Arkansas (Nov. 27) – This has become a great season ender for these rivals. These games have become very competitive over the past few years and Les Miles’ job at LSU might be on the line in this one.
4. Arkansas at Auburn (Oct. 16) – This game will feature two of the league’s best offenses and should become a shootout.
5. LSU vs. North Carolina (Sept. 4) – These two kick the season off in Atlanta. Projected as middle of the pack teams in their conference it’s a measure of the strength of both conferences. If LSU loses, the heat gets turned up on Les Miles.