1. Will it be 'Bama Time' in New Orleans?
Despite the fact that the Crimson Tide has lost an awful lot of talent - including quarterback Greg McElroy, wide receiver Julio Jones and running back/Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram. We can expect the new quarterback to hand the ball off to RB Trent Richardson, who's going to put some holes in opposition defenses. We also anticipate that the Crimson Tide are going to have a defense to die for, led by linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
2. South Carolina, anyone?
Everyone's talked up the SEC West, but I'll throw this one out there: The SEC East has got some good teams - and this one in Columbia is going to be the one to beat. QB Stephen Garcia (and all the problems he brings with him) is back, as is his favorite target, wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey. We are also a believer in RB Marcus Lattimore, who's going to cause some destruction down the middle. In the off-season, everyone's been talking about DE Jadevon Clowney, but will he start? Melvin Ingram hopes not! Seriously thought, Spurrier's got a good, deep team this year. Fear them at your peril.
3. LSU, LSU, LSU
LSU football is never, ever boring. This off-season guaranteed that, with starting QB Jordan Jefferson getting suspended for the showdown season opener with Oregon for getting in a fight in a bar in Baton Rouge. Anyway, Jarrett Lee's taking over behind the huddle. WR target Russell Shepard's also been suspended, which means LSU football could have a tough start to the season. If we're honest, LSU's road games at Mississippi State and West Virginia won't be easy, either. That's three top 25 teams in 4 weeks. Ouch. And trips to Tennessee and Alabama won't be particularly easy, either.
4. How 'Bout 'Dem Dawgs?
People from the good state of Georgia are going to be hosting the VFA in Athens for the South Carolina game in Week 2, so we thought it might be nice to include them on the preview. The good news for perennial hot-seat coach Mark Richt is that he's got QB Aaron Murray coming back. Tight end Orson Charles and freshman running back Isaiah Crowell are pretty damned good too. And people are pretty excited about Georgia's defense, which was terrible last year. Jarvis Jones - a transfer from USC - is being touted as one of the reasons. The bad news is that his running backs cohort is decimated by leg boots and boot-outs, and wide receiver AJ Green and Kris Durham's gone to make dough in the NFL. If Georgia loses its first game of the season against Boise State (and the Bulldogs are an underdog at this game), then expect the angry voices in Athens to start.
5) Happy in Mississippi?
While Oxford is one of the prettiest places you'll visit in the South, Starkville really isn't. But the team in Starkville's got better prospects than the team in Oxford does. QB Chris Relf is going to be a really exciting prospect for Ole Miss - as is LaDarius Perkins and Vick Ballard, who are going to disrupt opposing defenses all season long. Some people are worried about MSU's defensive line, but others aren't. With seven returning starters on 'D', I don't think y'all should be too worried. If he gets MSU to the SEC Championship game, then Dan Mullen should get the Coach of The Year job. And as for Ole Miss? Well, at least Brandon Bolden's going to be a highlight for the Rebels. That and tailgating, of course.
6) Rocky Times in the 'Villes: Knoxville or Gainseville?
Actually, no. Tennessee fans we know are actually excited about college football season. Firstly, it's because the team has some continuity at quarterback and at head coach. Tyler Bray's going to star for the Vols at QB, who bring back 13 returning starters.
As for UF, Florida fans are happy with Will Muschamp's appointment as head coach and offensive co-ordinator Charlie Weis' coming in to improve QB John Brantley. There is no question that there is a ton of talent at Florida (especially WRs Deonte Thompson and Quinton Dunbar, RBs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, and linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic), but will it hit paydirt? We'll see in October, when UF plays back-to-back weeks against Alabama and LSU. Ouch.
Players to watch
Trent Richardson (Alabama), Aaron Murray (Georgia), Jeff Demps (Florida), Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina), Alshon Jeffrey (South Carolina), Tyler Bray (Tennessee), Russell Shepard (LSU).
Games to watch
- Oregon vs LSU - No. 4 plays No. 5 in a prime-time season opener. This is going to be a classic.
- South Carolina vs Georgia - Because this game is always a great game. And we're going to it (weather providing!).
- Boise State vs Georgia - Great test of how good both sides will be this year. A loss, and both sides yell about firing their coach. Well Georgia's do anyway...
- LSU vs Alabama - This one's always been fun, and with a National Championship semi-final (sorry, SEC Championship Game!) place on the line, this is going to be even bigger.
- Alabama at Florida - Another banana skin for 'Bama. The atmosphere's going to be nasty in Gainseville.
- Alabama at Penn State - We wonder if Alabama will really enjoy going to Happy Valley on Week 2. My buddies are bringing their ear plugs.
- LSU at West Virginia - The Mountaineers will frighten the hell out of LSU. Mark our words.
- LSU at Missisippi State - Dan Mullen needs a marquee victory. LSU don't need it to be them. No pressure then...
- Tennessee at Florida - Tennessee fans will really be able to see how far their team's come in the head in Gainseville.
- Auburn at Clemson - This was one of the games of the year last season, and could well be a dark horse for one of the best of this year, too
Alabama beats South Carolina for a spot in the National Championship.