SEC East Predictions: Florida and Georgia to Battle for Division Title in 2008

The Dead Guy SECAnalyst IAugust 16, 2008

I wanted to pick UGA to win it, I really did—but I just couldn't.  With injuries, an apparent lack of focus, and that schedule, I think they're fighting an uphill battle this season.  Here's how I see it shaking out.


1. Florida

Coming off something a disappointing season (in their eyes), the Gators seem to have all the pieces in place for another NC run this season.  Assuming the defense has improved, Tim Tebow and the Gator offense will be on the field more often this year, which can be only mean good things for a team that averaged 42.5 ppg last year.

With a more balanced attack planned, the Gators could be even more dangerous offensively this year, particularly with a softer schedule than Georgia.

Best Case Scenario

The offense gels early, and the defense learns from its ups and downs last season.  The Gators go 14-0, bringing home a third straight BCS title for the SEC.

Worst Case Scenario

The defense is still soft, their injury situation catches up with them, SEC coaches figure out ways to contain Tebow and Co., and the Gators drop to second or third in the East.


2. Georgia

Yes, they’re preseason No. 1 in both polls and the most talented team in the best conference in America.  The problem—of course—is the other things: the arrests, the injuries, and that brutal schedule that includes road games to LSU, South Carolina, and Auburn.

Also, I’m not as enamored with Stafford as many people are.  All the tangible skills are there, but good decision-making is not always there.

UGA was the best team in the country at the end of the season last year, and while they’re certainly capable of carrying that over to 2008, I’ll need to see it before I believe it.

Best Case Scenario

This one’s fairly obvious: They pick up where they left off and obliterate everything in their site.  A BCS Title is a real possibility here.

Worst Case Scenario

The “bad” Stafford shows up in big games, the shenanigans continue to run wild, and they fold under the mounting pressure and drop to 8-4, or even 7-5.  I can’t see that happening though.


3. Tennessee

The surprise winner of the SEC East last season is back for more in '08.  They’ll have to replace OC David Cutcliffe as well as their QB, but HC Phil Fulmer’s been around the block a time or two.

Their schedule includes tough road games to Auburn, Georgia, and South Carolina, but they get Florida and Bama at home in two major payback games for blowouts last season.  The Vols have a real chance to surprise some folks this season.

Best Case Scenario

Jonathan Crompton steps in and the offense doesn’t miss a beat.  They knock off Florida at home, UGA falters, and the Vols return to ATL for the SEC CG.

Worst Case Scenario

The offense sputters with Erik Ainge and Cutcliffe gone, the four-week span vs. UF, @UGA, vs. NIU, @AU goes badly, and the Vols fold up shop for the year.


4. South Carolina

I was guilty of jumping on the Gamecock bandwagon last year, predicting them to win the SEC East.  I looked like a genius for seven games...not so much for the last five.

This year I’m not buying it.  There's too much uncertainty at the QB spot, and I’m not convinced that the Ol’ Ball Coach really has it in him anymore.  I think USC will be good, but it’ll only be enough for a fourth place finish in the East.

Best Case Scenario

Steve Spurrier rediscovers the magic touch, DC Ellis Johnson rejuvenates the D, someone steps up at the QB position, and the Gamecocks make it to the Outback or Liberty Bowl.

Worst Case Scenario

The team plays like it did the last month of last year, no consistency from QB, Stephen Garcia continues to dominate the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and Clemson again knocks the Gamecocks out of bowl contention.


5. Kentucky

The Wildcats were ranked for the first time since 1985 and won bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1951-52.  But the key pieces to that team—QB Andre' Woodson, RB Rafael Little, and WRs Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson—are gone.

The defense should actually be better, as they “only” have to replace LB Wesley Woodyard, but the offense will take a big step back, particularly without QB Curtis Pulley.  They get Arkansas and Vandy at home, but they’ll need to pull an upset to even reach a bowl game.

Best Case Scenario

The defense lives up to its potential, they find a QB who can get the ball to Dicky Lyons, and RBs Tony Dixon and Derrick Locke improve as the season goes along.  Even then, I can’t see a bowl game for the ‘Cats.

Worst Case Scenario

If the defense doesn’t play like it’s capable and no one steps up at QB, it could be very ugly for UK this year.


6. Vanderbilt

Last year was the most recent “the year” that Bobby Johnson was supposed to finally get Vanderbilt to a bowl game.  As usual, Vandy was sitting at home come bowl season.  They had an established QB, an All-SEC WR, and a proven defense.  Now they have none of that.

With a killer schedule to boot, this could be a less than enjoyable year for the ‘Dores.

Best Case Scenario

Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett, and Hunter Hillenmeyer are all mysteriously awarded extra years of eligibility, and Florida and Georgia forfeit their games.

Worst Case Scenario

With that schedule, 2-10 is not outside the realm of possibility...