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Last season, the SEC-East could only be described as a hot mess.
SEC fans love to talk about the dominance of the conference. The SEC is God's gift to the football world. The SEC is all powerful. The SEC is the best conference since the invention of conferences.
So why was one entire division of the conference so patently mediocre last season?
No team in the East finished with fewer than five overall losses (and, no, they weren't all conference losses). In fact, while the West had four teams with 10 or more wins last year, the East had none. Combined, the West was 58-20 in 2010. The East was 37-41. While five West teams finished the year ranked, only one East team did—and was ranked lower than the lowest West team.
Hopefully, the East will step it up a notch this year.
The two teams that have the best chance to carry the banner for the Eastern Division in 2011 are South Carolina and Georgia. Both teams had an adequate experience with success and failure in 2010, and both teams enter the new season hoping to do a bit better.
South Carolina won their first-ever divisional title last season before getting thrashed by Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. Georgia started the season 1-4, and never truly recovered.
This September 10 game is another example of an early conference game that could set the tone for the rest of the year for both teams. And in this situation, the game may come down to quarterbacks, and which one can execute more big plays over the course of the evening.
Aaron Murray definitely has the potential to become the next great quarterback from the SEC. He has raw talent, and he gained an incredible amount of invaluable experience last season. Across the field, Stephen Garcia is entering his senior season amid new problems and character issues that has led to his fifth suspension since arriving at South Carolina. While it seems nearly certain that he will return to the Gamecocks roster this fall, his position with the team is far from clear. Any further transgression on Garcia's part could see him either suspended (again) or dismissed from the program—in which case, South Carolina's chances of success may leave with him.
South Carolina 28, Georgia 27