Is it just me or has the football spring season taken on a feeling of mire? With the OSU-Coach Tressel scandal, the Sugar Bowl player non-suspension debacle, and the NCAA's general lack of competency, I just feel a little sour after seeing what is behind the curtain.
And though I know I'm not that excited about the upcoming season because of these outliers I must admit I am intrigued at the possibility of the SEC making a sixth run for the BCS title game.
So, let's just get it out of the way right now. Alabama and LSU have the best chance to get to the national championship game. As for other SEC teams making it, don't try to give me this Auburn crap about "no one thought they would make it" because I actually wrote an article giving them a chance.
I want go into total specifics but here is a basic predictor for each school with a premise of why.
Alabama: 12-0 at best, 9-3 at worst, probably 10-2
It is hard to predict who the starting QB is going to be let alone what he will do. But, we know what Trent Richardson can do and how well a 2010 depleted defense wound up leading the league by season's end. A favorable schedule helps as well.
Arkansas: 10-2 at best, 8-4 at worst, probably 9-3
Replacing Ryan "The Gunslinger" Mallett is never easy but they quickly pick up another weapon, Tyler "Shotgun" Wilson, behind him. Bobby will have the team up and the defense will be about the same but the offensive line has been reshuffling. This doesn't help Kniles Davis any.
Auburn: 9-3 at best, 5-7 at worst, probably 7-5
If you don't believe me just ask the Florida fans what happened after Tebow left. Losing four starting offensive linemen, a starting Heisman quarterback and a Lombardi Trophy-winning defensive player does not bode well for next season. Add in road games at Clemson, LSU, Arkansas, UGA and South Carolina and you got your hands full.
LSU: 12-0 at best, 8-4 at worst, probably 10-2
Luck comes and goes and with a schedule that is in the minus column for the Tigers the battle will be uphill. The problem is Les can never win any more than 12 games in a season. Quarterback pains continue to bother the offense but Spencer Ware comes out of the backfield behind a veteran line giving some grace to Jordan Jefferson. Defensively the Bengals will be stout. Look for some more close cajun games.
MSU: 9-3 at best, 7-5 at worst, probably 8-4
Dan Mullin is still there and Relf is maturing nicely, but some defensive attention is needed. However, having LSU and 'Bama come to their house does lend a bell of advantage no matter how slim it may be. Spoil one of those teams and that will make a season better.
Ole Miss: 8-4 at best, 2-10 at worst, probably 6-6
Yeah, I said it, 2-10 at worst. Who knows what is going to show up with this Black Bear team. Defensively they are down to nuts and bolts, but offensively they return their O-line. Quarterback will be a concern and their schedule may look favorable, but don't let that fool you.
Florida: 9-3 at best, 7-5 at worst, probably 8-4
With no real offensive line and even worse quarterback play the Gators are going to have to rely on defensive play, special teams and sheer talent. New coaching will help but game-time experience will be needed. I think Urban got off easy.
UGA: 10-2 at best, 7-5 at worst, probably 8-4
The first big test will be Boise State. Pass that one and Dawg fans can exhale. Fail that and begin the nightmare. I still think this program lacks conviction, leadership and discipline. However, I will say that no one has been arrested during spring practice so maybe they have turned a corner.
Kentucky: 8-4 at best, 5-7 at worst, probably 6-6
At this point, already count the UT game as a loss for the Wildcats. Until they win one it will always be this way. Breaking in a new QB and losing other key offensive players like Randall Cobb will create some problems. Wasn't that Final Four appearance great?!
South Carolina: 10-2 at best, 6-6 at worst, probably 9-3
Why do you ask I say 6-6 at worse? Because it is the Gamecocks. Connor Shaw is going to have to step up to get to that 10-2 mark and balls are going to have to bounce their way. Having a favorable home schedule helps out.
Tennessee: 8-4 at best, 6-6 at worst, probably 7-5
The coaching is still not there. Dooley needs another year under his belt and a little more talent. Defensively this team has no compass. Offensively they have a compass that points bombs downfield but have no standout leadership to contain it. But, that could all change with one win over UF.
Vanderbilt: 3-9 at best, 0-12 at worst, probalby 2-10
You can't ask much from Vanderbilt except to make the rest of the SEC look smarter with their higher educational standards. With a new coaching staff and not much talent I don't expect much out of Vandy. And, I really don't care.