Five Teams That Could Bring A Sixth Straight BCS Title to the SEC
The Southeastern Conference has dominated college football over the past five years, claiming all five BCS National Championships, most of which were won in dominant fashion.
In 2010, the SEC not only won the national championship, but also received 10 bowl bids, with only Vanderbilt and Ole Miss missing the post season.
With seven SEC teams predicted to start the season in the top 25, 2011 is unlikely to be different.
There is always the danger in the SEC of teams beating each other up in conference play, but regardless, the SEC is almost inevitably going to put a team into the 2011 BCS Title game and history would indicate that if this happens the SEC team would be favored to win.
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The University of Florida always has talent thanks to a rich tradition of high school football in the state of Florida, so the Gators will definitely have the skill and ability to compete for an SEC East and BCS Title in 2011.
The only question mark is how the players will respond to a new coaching regime with defensive guru Will Muschamp as their new head coach and offensive guru Charlie Weis as their new offensive coordinator.
The Gators are obviously willing to get the best talent to Gainesville both as players and coaches, but can this new super coaching staff get the program back in the right direction immediately after a very rare stumble in 2010?
The Gators do have the luxury of playing in the East, but they still have to make road trips to LSU and South Carolina as well as very tough games at home against Alabama and a much improved Florida State.
If the Gators can survive the regular season gauntlet, they will likely have the added luxury (sarcasm) of playing either LSU or Alabama a second time in the SEC Title game.
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With probably the most favorable schedule in the SEC in 2011, the Razorbacks have as easy a road to the SEC Title game as possible in the SEC West.
Arkansas will have the luxury of knocking off any residual rust with not one, but three warm-up games to open the season. The Razorbacks have home games against Missouri State, New Mexico and Troy before traveling to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama.
The biggest hurdle in the way of the Razorbacks, aside from the loss of starting quarterback Ryan Mallett to the NFL draft, will be a trip to Baton Rouge to take on LSU on Black Friday.
South Carolina Gamecocks
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With a strong nucleus returning on offense, the Gamecocks of South Carolina will once again be a contender for the SEC East title in 2011.
The Gamecocks are returning starting quarterback Stephen Garcia, who improved dramatically in 2010 after a shaky 2009 campaign, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and most importantly, running back Marcus Lattimore who far exceeded expectations as a freshman in 2010.
South Carolina also has a favorable schedule in 2011 that will be a big help as teams go into the BCS home stretch in October and November. A mid-season, three game away stretch against Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas is luckily followed by Florida, The Citadel and Clemson at home.
The Gamecocks biggest challenge will be Arkansas in Fayetteville, but if they can survive the Razorbacks they will have a home stretch to pile on BCS points.
Alabama Crimson Tide
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Two words: Nick Saban.
With Saban as your head coach, your team will always be in the hunt for a BCS title and 2011 will be no exception.
Alabama is losing quite a bit in quarterback Greg McElroy, wide receiver Julio Jones, Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram and defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, but the Tide will undoubtedly reload with stars like Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks and Trent Richardson ready to have their 15 minutes of fame.
After a ridiculously difficult schedule in 2010, the Crimson Tide will have relief in 2011 with a fairly easy schedule featuring Kent State, North Texas, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Georgia Southern, a depleted Auburn and the luxury of playing their toughest opponent, LSU, in Tuscaloosa following a bye week.
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The 2010 LSU Tigers finished 11-2 with a dominant bowl performance against Texas A&M. The Tigers' two losses were close losses to Arkansas and the eventual BCS National Champions, Auburn.
The Tigers will be tested early as they open the season in Arlington, TX in a neutral-site game against projected No. 1 Oregon. A win could launch the Tigers into the national spotlight and top three in the AP rankings.
The Tigers were a very good team in 2010 despite an offense that ranked 86th overall and 107th in passing.
LSU’s recent hiring of Steve Kragthorpe, a quarterback-friendly coach as offensive coordinator should improve the offensive production tremendously. With the addition of junior-college transfer quarterback Zach Mettenberger and a large number or key players returning, the Tigers should be a favorite to win the SEC West and compete in the SEC Championship and BCS National title game.