The SEC now has five consecutive BCS titles. Five!
They have seven since the inception of the BCS in 1998—that's seven out of 13 BCS championships. No other conference even has more than two (the Big 12 has two, the Big Ten, ACC and Big East all have one, and any Big East team that has ever played in the BCS championship is no longer in the conference).
The SEC is also undefeated in the BCS National Championship game (7-0).
These are just three of the many reasons why the smart money in 2011 is again on the SEC. Here a just a few more...
It all started with Tennessee in the inaugural BCS championship game: the 1999 Fiesta Bowl.
Tennessee tore through the 1998 season, and won a bid to the first-ever BCS championship game, embodied in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl between No. 1 Tennessee and No. 2 Florida State.
Tennessee jumped out to a 14-0 second quarter lead, and never looked back.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Is there anything else that needs to be said about this list?
Since Florida began the current run after the 2006 season, the SEC has been an FBS juggernaut, and to this point, no one has been able to put up more than token resistance.
As if winning seven titles wasn't enough, the SEC has never lost a BCS title game once a team from the conference receives a bid.
That's pretty impressive stuff, considering the level of competition faced in each BCS title game.
Sure, it's way early, but the post-spring practice polls are out, and Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia appear on at least one Top 25 list.
That's eight out of twelve teams!
It's probably not much of a secret that the best high school football players in the nation want to play for big-time, winning programs in college.
Not only is there the lure of playing on national television every week, in front of tens of thousands of fans, but winning national championships and capturing the attention of pro scouts is much easier if you play for Alabama, Florida, or Aubrun as opposed to North Texas, Western Michigan, or Idaho.
There are three sophomores that have emerged as potential defensive stars for the Gators this spring.
Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley, and Ronald Powall have all made huge strides during spring practice, and they look to anchor a very powerful Florida D-line in 2011, and for the foreseeable future.
Don't be surprised if the Florida running game is featured in 2011.
With Chris Rainey in the backfield, and a few question marks left in the passing game, will mean we'll see a lot of running.
Due to a whole host of injuries, Rainey was the only scholarship running back participating in spring practice for the Gators.
He proved that he's well worth the confidence head coach Will Muschamp has placed in him.
Okay, so it appears that the talk about how fast Florida's linebackers were was more hype than reality.
No worries, though. Florida has instituted a new defensive scheme that will call for more sideline-to-sideline defensive play rather than trying to cover speedy receivers all on their own.
The new scheme should work right into the strengths of the current linebackers, and it will downplay any weaknesses (of which there are few).
They may not be the fastest linebackers in the nation, but that doesn't mean they're no good. In fact, they're quite good.
But instead of having complete control over a team, he's back to the job in which no one questions his ability, accomplishment, and brilliance: offensive coordinator.
Opposing defenses will have nightmares preparing for a Weis-coordinated offense.
Regardless of how really not good he was as Notre Dame's head coach, he's an amazing offensive guy, and focusing solely on offense in a program with the athletes that Florida has could mean big, big things for the Gators.
It seems that Texas' coach-in-waiting wasn't willing to wait any longer.
After Mack Brown led the Longhorns to an abysmal finish in 2010 and not even a peep of discontent, not even a whif of retirement, not even a hint of moving on from anyone at Texas, Muschamp did the smart thing and left town.
After all, how long did Texas think they could keep Muschamp without giving him the reins?
Muschamp is too good not to be a head coach, and Florida is every bit as big of a program as Texas.
Good for Muschamp.
Good for Florida.
So maybe this isn't the best reason to pick the SEC again in 2011, but let's give it whirl, anyway.
Stephen Garcia is many things. He's a great quarterback. He's an amazing athlete. He's a very competent field general.
He's an off-the-field screw up.
He's in the midst of his fifth suspension at South Carolina. If Garcia returns for his senior season leading the Gamecocks—and it's a mighty big if right now—he'll be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.
Is this really any surprise?
Although this young phenom will need to avoid a sophomore slump, it's doubtful he'll have much trouble doing just that.
Especially if Garcia doesn't return for 2011, in which case Lattimore will get even more carries, as he'll be expected to shoulder the lion's share of responsibility for offensive output.
With some early departures from Alabama and Georgia, Alshon Jeffery is easily the best returning wide receiver in the SEC.
In his 21 starts, he has an incredible 134 receptions for the Gamecocks.
If he snags another 74, he'll capture South Carolina's all-time career reception record.
If 74 sounds like a lot, keep in mind that Jeffery already set USC's single-season reception record in 2010 with 88 while simultaneously setting the new high-water mark for reception yards in a season with 1,517.
He's clearly a go-to receiver, and by season's end, he'll be closing in on most of SC's career receiving records.
Take one look at the defensive ends for 2011, and it's easy to see why South Carolina fans are so excited about the defensive prospects for the Gamecocks.
In 2010, the Gamecocks defensive ends ranked seventh in the nation in quarterback sacks, and broke a South Carolina single-season record with 41.
Devin Taylor, the 6-7 junior, is bound to make a few preseason All-American lists. Opposite him is senior Melvin Ingram.
Plus, the Gamecocks landed the top high school prospect in the nation when Jadeveon Clowney signed on with South Carolina.
Even though the brazen young soon-to-be freshman somewhat foolishly and arrogantly said that he'll only give South Carolina three years, at most, before he's selected in the NFL draft (quite a statement considering this kid has yet to see a snap in the rough-and-tumbe SEC), it's still clear that he was much sought after for a reason.
Even though the spring didn't tell us much about the South Carolina linebackers, it's clear that there is a competition heating up for at least two of the coveted starting positions.
Unfortunately, due to some nagging injuries, we'll probably have to wait until August to discover who the starters will be.
But in the meantime, we can salivate over the possibilities.
Shaq Wilson and Rodney Paulk, big, strong, athletic linebackers are the early favorites to fill the two open positions. But there are three or four others who have put in better-than-average springs, and will be pushing the eventual starters to keep on top of their games.
That doesn't bode well for opposing quarterbacks.
Be honest. Was anyone else a little surprised by Mississippi State last year?
The Bulldogs have shown that they're ready to compete with the best in the SEC, and 2011 will probably not be any different.
Leading the charge will be an experienced receiving corps, led by Arcedo Clark, Chris Smith, and Chad Bumphis. All three were starters in 2010, and all three are back in action for 2011.
Any less-than-lightning-fast defense not absolutely prepared will get torched by this trio.
Back for another season of making linebackers and unsuspecting corners look silly is senior Vick Ballard.
One of the more underrated running backs in the SEC, and possibly the nation, will be looking to impress national pundits and NFL scouts in his senior year.
He'll probably help Mississippi State win some football games along the way.
The Bulldog D-line showed that nation that they could contain players with the skill of Denard Robinson last years.
Not many could say that.
Guess what? Three of the four starters are back.
Led by senior defensive end Sean Ferguson, the Bulldogs D-line will be ready and able to stifle any run game, and can put amazing pressure on opposing quarterbacks, even when they're the only ones rushing.
Not the hardest non-conference schedule in the world. Granted, the SEC isn't exactly known for it's do-or-die non-con schedules, but Mississippi State doesn't appear to be taking any chances.
Memphis, Louisiana Tech, UAB, and Tennessee-Martin should be good for four automatic wins.
Since we're talking about schedules, let's look at who the Razorbacks have on the 2011 docket, shall we?
Missouri State. Yeah. That's sure to be a barn-burner.
New Mexico? Apparently the early weeks are supposed to be like easing into a hot tub.
Troy. What's the over/under on this game?
But before you go thinking it's going to be all peaches and cream for the Hogs' non-con schedule, take a look at October 1.
The Razorbacks will meet up with a Top 10 team in Texas A&M at Cowboys Stadium.
If the Hogs can get through their first five games (the four above, plus Alabama), expect an instant Top 10 ranking.
It's probably safe to say that without Knile Davis, the 2010 Razorback season would have turned out very differently.
What makes Knile Davis such a huge threat is the simple fact that he's so talented, opposing defenses must cover him at all times. That takes tremendous pressure off of the passing game, and when the Hogs run play action, it can make opposing defenses go mad.
And Davis isn't too bad when he actually gets the ball, too.
In fact, he's pretty darn good.
Okay, so Ryan Mallett is gone. In steps junior quarterback Tyler Wilson.
Wilson already has three aces in his hand when he steps onto the field, as all three starting receivers from 2010 are back this season.
Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, and Cobi Hamilton are all a year older, and probably a year better than they were last year.
That's good news for Wilson, and for Razorback fans everywhere.
If experience is the only thing you're looking for in a linebacker, you might have some worries about Auburn in 2011.
But if you take into consideration pure, unadulterated talent, look no further.
Daren Bates began his career at Auburn as a safety. He was pretty good, too, being named All-SEC. Last season, he moved to linebacker, but never really settled into that role.
In 2011, he's a starter, and his talent will be back in full blossom.
He's joined by returning sophomore Eltoro Freeman, who was a big contributor for Auburn in the late season last year. Sprinkle in UnderArmour All-American Jake Holland, and you have a recipe for a pretty darned decent linebacking unit.
Probably the best thing that ever happened to Michael Dyer was Cam Newton.
The young freshman was able to get his feet wet in 2010, but wasn't necessarily counted on to win games because of the take-over-the-game-ability of Cam newton.
Now that he has some experience under his belt, Dyer is ready to take center stage.
And he's certainly talented enough to not only impress Auburn fans, but impress the rest of the SEC and the nation, as well. Look for Dyer to carry the ball more and more in 2011, and watch his numbers go up and up and up...
Another typical SEC non-conference schedule will certainly help the Tigers try and cling to their lofty preseason rankings.
Utah State will be an easy win, as will Florida Atlantic. A late-season game against FCS Samford will probably do more for Samford's bottom line that it will do for Auburn television ratings, but everyone welcomes a win in November.
It seems hard to believe, but the defending BCS champion Tigers will be underestimated by a great number of teams in 2011.
It's a virtual certainty that at least some, if not most, are counting out a Newton-less Auburn in 2011.
Sometimes your own expectations can be your own worst enemy. Alabama.
Patrick Peterson, last year's Jim Thorpe Award winner, is gone.
But the SEC-leading secondary from 2010 will be just fine, thank you very much. Not only are Morris Claiborne and Brandon Taylor back for 2011, they'll be joined by some very talented youngsters in a pair of sophomores—Tyrann Mathieu and Craig Loston.
Opposing quarterbacks need to learn their names now. If they don't, they'll certainly remember them after leaving the field against LSU.
Well, we've talked about LSU's secondary, so how about the big boys up front?
We know LSU had the SEC's best pass defense in 2010, but part of their opponents' lack of production also came care of the Tigers d-line.
LSU ranked 3rd in the SEC in sacks (17th in the nation), and 3rd in total defense (12th in the nation).
The defensive buffet-busters had something to do with that, and both defensive ends from a year ago will be lining up again for the Tiger defense in 2011.
In fact, LSU actually has four returning defensive end starters in 2011 (Sam Montgomery, Kendrick Adams, Lavar Edwards, and Chancey Aghayere). Aghayere and Montgomery started five games apiece, while Edwards has six starts to his credit, and Adams has 11.
Don't expect too much of a drop off on the defensive line for LSU in 2011.
Speaking of buffet-busters, the big boys are back in town, and they are going to be scary good in 2011.
LSU has four returning starters for the 2011 season, and four other players with quality playing experience from last year (due to injuries to 2010 starters).
One underlying bonus that may be hard for non-LSU watchers to notice is the fact that most of the LSU linemen have played most—if not all—of the O-line positions at one point or another. That will help with the unit's chemistry, and each player will probably know exactly what every other player on the line is doing during every play.
If opposing defenses are counting on confusion or poor communication to open up some sack opportunities, they'll be sorely disappointed.
At the risk of harping on SEC weak non-con schedules, LSU is yet another candidate for...
Wait a tick. Who's that in week one? Oregon?
All right! We have a show!
In what will probably be the premiere match-up of the opening week, LSU and Oregon will tangle at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Count on the winner of that game to get a huge bump in national opinion.
It's probably pretty good to be Trent Richardson right about now.
Easily the best No. 2 running back in the nation last year, Richardson now has the Crimson Tide backfield all to himself in 2011.
If anyone has paid his dues, it's this guy. He spent two long years backing up Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, and he did so with talent and great ability. And a little dose of humility.
Ingram is off to the pros, and Richardson is ready to take the hand off, so to speak.
Richardson is exactly what Alabama needs in a running back: strong, athletic, quick, and agile. He can make defenders miss when they're positive they have a bead on him. He can cut it up field at a moment's notice, and squeeze through the smallest of openings.
Richardson will make a great candidate for All-SEC in 2011, and quite possibly, All-American.
Here's yet another SEC team welcoming back the bulk of their offensive line from 2010.
The Tide will have four returning starters from last fall, and that's pretty important for Alabama, considering the turnover they have to deal with at the other offensive positions.
Expect vast improvements over last season, when the Tide was tenth in the SEC in sacks allowed.
While Greg McElroy could handle that kind of week-in and week-out pressure, it probably won't go over so well with an untested, inexperienced quarterback.
Courtney Upshaw, CJ Mosley, Nico Johnson, and Dont'a Hightower are back, and they're ready for a whole new season of messing people up.
Just how good will Alabama's linebacking corps be this year?
This group could easily be the best squad of linebackers in the SEC, if not the country, and they'll be the anchor of the Tide defense in 2011.
If you think their linebackers are good, check out Alabama's secondary.
If the 2010 Crimson Tide had a weakness, it was probably their rebuilt and retooled secondary. Okay, so it wasn't that much of a weakness. But it was still one of the weaker links in the Alabama chain.
As impressive of a job the new secondary did in 2010, imagine what they'll be able to accomplish in 2011, now that every single member returns with more experience!
And when we say everybody is back, we mean everybody.
Dre Kirkpatrick. Dee Milliner. DeQuan Menzie. Mark Barron. Robert Lester.
All of them. And this is a group that ranked 13th in the nation in pass defense last season.
Good luck throwing the ball against this group.
If ever there was a poster child for weak non-conference scheduling, it's probably Alabama.
While the Tide get some props for putting Penn State on their slate, it's notable that when the Tide play the away potion of this home-and-home series, they'll only travel to Pennsylvania in early September.
A little snow never hurt anyone.
Add in Kent State, North Texas, and Georgia Southern....
The Tide might as well have put the Tuscaloosa School for the Blind and the Alabama State Mental Reformatory on their schedules.
How much resistance is Kent State, North Texas, and FCS Georgia Southern supposed to give a team that is easily one of the best in the country?
Well, they're good for a few easy wins, anyway.
Some of the very, very early preseason All-American lists are out, and there will be no shortage of SEC-ers on the 2011 lists when the rest of them are announced.
Easily there are at least five to seven First Team candidates, with at least that many possible candidates for Second Team honors.
You could basically man an entire football team from the SEC, and have no one but All-Americans on your team.
For 2011, only the Pac-12 comes close to that kind of distinction, and by the time all of the lists come out, even they won't hold a candle to the SEC.
Steve Spurrier is entering his seventh season as head coach at South Carolina.
Over that span, he's led the Gamecocks to a less-than-stellar 44-33 overall record, and a slightly worse 23-25 record in the SEC.
But Spurrier is leading the Gamecocks on a steady upwards climb.
Last season, USC won their first ever SEC-East Division title, and finished the season 9-5, the best under Spurrier.
With the amount of talent returning, the smart money is on another positive season at South Carolina.
Beyond that, Spurrier has proven himself as a successful coach over time. While the head coach at Florida, Spurrier led the Gators to a 122-27-1 record overall, a 87-12 SEC mark, six SEC titles, and a national title. Spurrier also never failed to reach a bowl game (other than his first year, in which Florida was ineligible), and posted a 6-5 record in bowl games. Florida also played in three BCS bowls in the four years Spurrier was head coach in the BCS era.
Point being, Spurrier is one heckuva coach, and given time, he has the ability to turn SC into a perennial SEC and national contender.
As previously mentioned, Coach Muschamp just wasn't going to wait around in Austin forever. He did the smart thing, and left for his own head coaching gig.
Florida did the smarter thing by hiring him.
While Muschamp has no head coaching experience from which we can gauge his potential success at Florida, it's important to note that if Texas liked him enough to name him head coach-in-waiting, he must have enough of the right qualities to be a head coach at a program like Texas.
Florida is every bit Texas' equal, and Florida has every bit the amount of resources Texas has.
The safe money is on Muschamp being a success at Florida, and the Gators competing for a spot in a BCS bowl year in and year out.
Has this guy ever had a losing season as a head coach?
In short, no.
After one very impressive season at Toledo, going 9-2 in 1990, Saban left for a coordinator position in the pros.
By 1995, he had landed the head job in East Lansing. Saban took Michigan State from a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team, going 6-5-1 in his first season at MSU, to a 9-2 emerging power, and Top 10 poll rankings in 1999.
LSU came a'knocking after the success at MSU, and State just wouldn't pony up the dough, so Saban was gone.
A couple of SEC championships and a BCS title later, Saban defected to Alabama. Another SEC title and BCS trophy for his case.
Nick Saban is, quite frankly, a coach who will clearly be remebered as a legend.
One may be burned at the stake for saying so, but if Saban stays with Alabama, and keeps winning the way he has, Saban may be mentioned in the same breath as Bryant in Tuscaloosa.
Not even clever T-shirts from his alma mater could lure him away from LSU.
“I want to trade in my old Carr for one with Les Miles” read the popular shirt circulating around U-M's campus when Lloyd Carr announced his retirement as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines.
It's debatable how and/or why that deal never materialized. In reality, it was probably due in no small part to a major blunder on the part of Michigan's athletic department, leaking the fact that Miles was their top candidate while Miles was in the midst of preparing LSU for the BCS National Championship game.
Basically, U-M left Miles no choice but to deny any desire to leave LSU for Michigan. After all, who would broadcast to the world, including his players and the opposition, that his heart wasn't really in it at LSU any more?
Ever since Michigan put a large Maize and Blue show in their mouths, Les Miles has been bleeding yellow and purple. And all signs point to the fact that he'll be a Tiger for as long as he wants to be one.
After all, Miles has compiled a 62-17 record at LSU, including a 32-15 SEC mark.
Those kind of numbers are impressive in any conference. In the SEC, it's astonishing. Les Miles is just another in a list of amazing coaches calling the SEC home.
Okay, so Georgia didn't start off 2010 so well.
But calling for the firing of a coach who has a record of 96-34? Seriously?
Georgia fans must have really, really, really thin skin.
Georgia went 3-5 in the SEC, yet still managed to finish third in the SEC-East. Last season was also Richt's only losing season. Ever.
Come on, guys. He's led Georgia to a 53-27 SEC record! He's won two SEC championships for goodness sake.
Last year was also the only year in his tenure that Georgia failed to finish the season ranked.
But based on his coaching ability, and the recruiting job he's been able to do at Georgia these past few years, don't expect too many seasons like 2010.
Mark Richt is a great coach. If Georgia doesn't want him, there are probably 119 other FBS programs who wouldn't mind having him on staff.
In just his second season as head coach of the Bulldogs, Dan Mullen has taken an “also ran” in the SEC to a team that can compete for a conference title and BCS bowl berth.
After finishing 9-4 in 2010, and thoroughly dismantling an improving Michigan squad in the Gator Bowl, Mississippi State will have one disadvantage in 2011: they won't be able to sneak up on anyone anymore.
No fears, Bulldog faithful, for Dan Mullen is your head coach.
As impressive as he's been with players he didn't recruit (and it should be noted he's been pretty successful thus far), imagine what is in store when his recruits take the field.
No more molding others' recruits to fit his mold. Now, he'll have his own hand-picked athletes to help dismantle the opposition.
The rest of the SEC, and the nation, should be put on notice.
Mississippi State is hear to stay.
Honestly, now, is anyone really surprised that Petrino is turning into a pretty big hit at Arkansas?
A guy who went a combined 41-9 at Louisville is now coaching with an SEC talent pool from which to draw. And what are the results? First season, five wins. Second season, eight wins. Third season, ten wins.
What's next? Twelve? Thirteen? Fourteen?
Petrino has proven that he can win games, but he's also proving that he can recruit at Arkansas along with the rest of the SEC greats.
The SEC-West has another potential powerhouse on their hands.
I'm sure we all remember the confusion, shock, and in some cases horror and disgust that was hurled at Auburn when the announced that Gene Chizik was taking over as head coach.
Really? This guy? The guy with a 5-19 record as a head coach? The guy from Iowa State?
Yeah. That guy.
The guy who is 22-5 at Auburn with a national championship under his belt after only two seasons.
I bed that yahoo who booed and heckled the Auburn athletic director feels like a complete idiot. If fact, if you're reading, idiot, why don't you write a nice apology letter to Jay Jacobs.
Turns out Jacobs did know what he was talking about when he said he had found the right guy for Auburn.
Any Auburn fans disagree?
Didn't think so.
While there are some lingering questions about “hundred-dollar handshakes” and pay-for-play allegations (none of which have ever been substantiated as of yet), no one can doubt Chizik's on-field performance.
The Tigers have been absolutely spectacular under Chizik, improving from 5-7 the year prior to his arrival, to 8-5 and then 14-0.
Again, do any Auburn fans still disagree with the decision to hire Chizik?
First off, there's just something about a guy named Houston Nutt.
There aren't too many names in college football that roll off the tounge like Houston Nutt.
But beyond the greatness that is his name, Nutt has been pretty darned good in coaching the Rebels, too. In fact, he's 22-16, and has two Cotton Bowl wins under his belt.
Growing pains are inevitable, but the guys has a career total of 133 wins. You don't win that many games without knowing a thing or two about building up a program.
Ole Miss hasn't really been on many people's radar screens for a while (which is why they manage to squeak in an upset or two every now and then), but it won't be long before the Mississippi Rebels are climbing their way back into the national spotlight.
It's all well and good that the SEC has a list of head coaches that reads like a future College Football Coaching Hall of Fame dream lineup. But so what? Only one team can win, right?
True. But one of the arguments made by SEC fans for ages has been that “our conference is so great and so tough, that when the SEC champion makes it through the crucible of an SEC season, no one can beat them.”
That remains to be seen, but history is starting to back up that once arrogant-sounding claim.
Okay, it's still arrogant-sounding, but the longer the SEC continues on their BCS championship streak, the fewer and fewer arguments can be made against it.
So, great coaches develop great programs that play great football.
The better the opposition in the SEC, the more prepared the SEC champion is to take on the world, theoretically.
And the SEC puts that theory into practice every January.
And now, for our last four reasons, we'll pick our top four SEC teams in 2011, and a reason why they can win it all in 2011...
While winning a second-consecutive BCS championship is probably one of the more difficult feats in all of sport (and to this point hasn't been done), it doesn't mean it can't happen.
Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers lost one amazing athlete in Cam Newton. But in the college game, athletes come and go. But once constant is the talent that Chizik will pack onto the Auburn sideline each and every Saturday.
Heck, some of the Auburn players on the three-deep have more talent and raw athleticism as some teams have in their starters.
And it says something that those players would rather play at Auburn then at Kansas State or Purdue, or Virginia.
Sure they got demolished by Auburn in last year's SEC Championship game.
But how many other pretty darn good teams got demolished by Auburn last year? Lots.
South Carolina won't be a one-hit-wonder. Steve Spurrier is too good of a coach to let that happen.
Never, ever count out Les Miles and the LSU Tigers.
If you didn't believe that before 2010, you should now. They don't call him the Mad Hatter for nothing.
Some of the most spectacular, unbelievable, improbably wins of 2010 belonged to LSU.
Some people argue that LSU can't keep tempting fate and continue to win games. That's probably true, but you can also argue the converse as being true: LSU wins the tight games, and they do it in an impressive, flashy, entertaining manner.
And really, isn't it all about entertainment in the end?
Geaux Tigers and Geaux Hat!
The past few years at Alabama have done nothing short of restore the proud program to its prior glory.
Winning a BCS championship is nice and all, but quickly without looking it up, tell me who won the 1999 season's BCS title.
Time's up. It was Florida State.
The point is, it's not always about winning one particular game. It's about restoring the program as a whole, so that year in and year out—every year, without fail— the program is considered a top contender for the BCS title.
That is exactly what is happening at Alabama, and her fans should be very grateful for the opportunity to witness this great time in Alabama history.
The Crimson Tide exhibit more talent in one down that some teams do in their entire season. Alabama's practice squad could probably beat some FBS teams, and beat them handily.
Alabama is absolutely loaded in 2011, and even if you aren't a SEC-phile, you have to admit that they are an early favorite to not only win the SEC, but win another BCS National Championship.