SEC Football: Evaluating Potential Challengers To Alabama's Throne
As of right now in SEC football, it's Alabama and everyone else. The Tide scored at will against a traditionally fearsome Penn State defense and look to remain enthroned as the best the SEC has to offer.
But in the tradition of any great conference, the SEC should have more to offer than just the Tide. Indeed, many teams are planning ways to knock off top-ranked Alabama and are ready to fight the Tide every inch of the way to the 2010 SEC championship game in Atlanta.
Who are some of the teams that could potentially challenge Alabama for the SEC crown?
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It would only be fitting for the Tide and Gators to clash for the SEC crown a third year in a row. It is less likely to happen this year because Florida lost future legend and Heisman-winning QB Tim Tebow.
The Gators played poorly and sloppily until the second half against South Florida, but then something clicked for UF and after that it was all Gators.
The Alabama-Florida regular season meeting is two games away and it looks to be a great game. If Florida can take advantage of Alabama's disarrayed secondary, they will have a good shot at making the upset.
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The Arkansas Razorbacks are, in my opinion, tied with Alabama for the best offense in the SEC. Alabama uses power, and Arkansas uses speed.
With the ultra-talented Ryan Mallett at the helm of the Razorback offense, there will continually be fireworks and points.
The oft-criticized UA defense has held up well in two easy games against Tennessee Tech and Lousiana-Monroe, only allowing three and seven points, respectively.
The Alabama-Arkansas meeting is next week, which is a chance for the Razorbacks to show what they've really got. Two key matchups to watch for: Ryan Mallett and Arkansas' receivers against Alabama's secondary, and Alabama pass-rushers against Arkansas' offensive line. Last year the Tide put a ton of pressure on Mallett and hugely limited his effectiveness.
South Carolina Gamecocks
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Few teams have looked as good as the Steve Spurrier-coached Gamecocks this year, as they beat down Southern Miss 41-13 and then cruised past Georgia 17-6.
South Carolina has some exciting young playmakers on the field, like Marcus Lattimore and Stephon Gilmore. Devonte Holloman is an excellent sophomore safety and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery looks like a future first-round draft pick.
Could this finally be South Carolina's year to be a serious contender? We'll find out soon, with the Gamecocks facing a tough stretch of games after Saturday's meeting with Furman. USC will play Auburn, Alabama, then Kentucky, with meetings against Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, and Clemson coming later on in the year.
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It is hard to tell what LSU's got right now. We all saw them nearly defeated by short-handed North Carolina, but with the level of talent in Baton Rouge right now, a little decent coaching could turn this team into a serious contender.
QB Jordan Jefferson has his ups and downs, but the real focus of the LSU offense should be on Russell Shepard. Shepard defines the word "explosive" and can turn any play into a touchdown. Other star offensive players include receivers Rueben Randle and Terrence Toliver.
On the defense, cornerback Patrick Peterson leads the way. The defensive line has some new starters in Kendrick Adams and Lazarius Levingston. Kelvin Sheppard, Jai Eugene, and Brandon Taylor are some other notables.