SEC West Predictions: Auburn Looks to Be Clear Favorite in 2008

The Dead Guy SECAnalyst IAugust 17, 2008

Every team in the West has questions this year.

How will Auburn do running the spread for a full season?  What kind of production will LSU get from its QBs?

Will Alabama greatly improve in Year Two under Nick Saban?  Can Houston Nutt win in Oxford with the talent Ed Orgeron left him?

How will Mississippi State score this year?  How will Bobby Petrino do with inferior talent?


1. Auburn

Tommy Tuberville has established Auburn as one of the most consistent programs in America, but he shook things up last year after the Iron Bowl to implement the spread offense.  They return nearly everyone on offense, so the transition should be a smooth one, but how it holds up for 12-plus games remains to be seen.

With all their tough games (except Alabama) at home, Auburn should win the West.

Best Case Scenario

Kodi Burns steps in and plays like he's capable, the defense plays well, the Iron Bowl domination continues, and they end the season in the Sugar Bowl.

Worst Case Scenario

The offense sputters like it did early last season, the Tigers are embarrassed on national TV by West Virginia, the Iron Bowl trophy goes back to Tuscaloosa, and AU finishes the season in Shreveport.


2. LSU

The defending BCS Champs will have a very different look this season with so many key departures from last season.  They'll still field one of the top OLs and DLs in the SEC—thus the country—and have their typical stable of talented RBs.

Now it's just a question of who's going to be under center.  With road games at Auburn, Florida, and South Carolina in a four-game stretch, it's hard to see the Bayou Bengals repeating as division champs.

Best Case Scenario

Steady QB play coupled with trench-dominating lines lead LSU back to the BCS.

Worst Case Scenario

Les Miles' Magic 8-Ball coaching decisions don't pan out like they did nearly every single time last year, QB play is sketchy, and the tough schedule proves too much.  LSU winds up in Nashville.


3. Alabama

Year Two of the Nick Saban era begins with the Tide still sporting more talent than last year's team, a nice tandem of RBs, and one of the most experienced QBs in the league.

The Tide should be better this season and will likely finish with back-to-back winning seasons for the second time since 1996.  It's certainly not outside the realm of possibility that the Tide could compete for the West, but road games at UGA, Tennessee, and LSU make it unlikely.

Best Case Scenario

Knocking off perennially overrated Clemson to open the season, finally beating Auburn, and facing UF in the SEC Championship Game.

Worst Case Scenario

Bookend blowout losses to the season, ending up in the Bowl or equivalent because Shreveport doesn't want them again.


4. Ole Miss

After three of the worst non-Vandy years in recent SEC memory, Ole Miss fired Ed Orgeron and brought in Houston Nutt.  Orgeron left plenty of talent for Nutt to work with, though much of it unproven, particularly in the offensive backfield.

With a manageable schedule, the Rebels could be bowling by season's end, though that's certainly no guarantee.  Nutt's teams always seem to knock off someone they're not supposed to, but by the same token, he often drops the inexplicable games too.

Best Case Scenario

If everyone buys into the system and performs like they're capable, the Rebels could win seven or eight games this year and wind up in Memphis for the Liberty Bowl.

Worst Case Scenario

QB Jevan Snead doesn't live up to hype, critical depth shortages at key positions prove disastrous, and the Golden Egg stays in Starkville while the Rebels endure a fifth straight season with no bowl game.


5. Mississippi State

While the Bulldogs were a great story last year, the reality was they were perhaps the worst eight-win team in SEC history.  A stout, opportunistic defense paved the way for the team, as the offense was inept at best.

It's tough to see them duplicating that kind of success this season without scoring more points, but all signs indicate that's an unlikelihood.  A soft schedule probably means a bowl game though.

Best Case Scenario

The offense improves while the defense stays strong, and the Bullies catch a few more lucky breaks and wind up in a second straight bowl game.

Worst Case Scenario

The offense performs like it did in the Spring Game, the defense wears down from overuse, and all the positive vibes from last season are long forgotten in an ugly year.


6. Arkansas

Everything that can be said about the Arkansas coaching situation has been said, so I'll leave it alone.  The bottom line is that Petrino is stepping into a less than ideal situation talent-wise.

He returns an experienced QB in Casey Dick, but is that really a good thing?  Petrino may very well win at Arkansas, but it's not going to be this season.

Best Case Scenario

Even with all the lucky breaks this side of the moon, anything better than 6-6 is a pipe dream.

Worst Case Scenario

If the more talented team wins every game played, the Hogs will win no more than four games.