We all know the winner of the 2011 SEC Championship will likely be playing in New Orleans for the BCS National Championship against a member that is not in the SEC.
Many different preseason rankings project Alabama, LSU, Arkansas or South Carolina as the winner of the SEC Championship; therefore, that team will most likely be playing for it all in New Orleans.
For this reason, let’s assume the SEC Champion has one loss and will be playing in the BCS National Championship game in 2012.
Here is a look at five opponents one member of the SEC could be playing come January:
1. Oklahoma Sooners, Big XII
The Sooners return a very good offense in quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles. Historically, the defense is always pretty good. The nucleus is there for the Sooners to win the Big XII and try to disprove their “Choke-lahoma” ways. The Sooners are the favorite in the Big XII this season, but they will have to get past in-state rival Oklahoma State. The Sooners also play ACC preseason favorite FSU in Tallahassee early in the year, and that could make or break the title run.
2. Oregon Ducks, Pac-12
Like Oklahoma, Oregon returns a dirty offensive attack with quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James. I’m sure they still have a bad taste in their mouths after coming so close to the big one a year ago in Glendale against Auburn. The Ducks’ championship hopes will either gain momentum or lose momentum after they play LSU the first game of the year in Arlington. The Ducks have to be the favorite in the Pac-12 this season.
3. Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big 10
Nebraska’s switch from the Big XII to the Big 10 immediately puts them into the National Championship discussion. Although, in order to win the Big 10 outright, the quarterback play of Taylor Martinez, particularly the passing game, has to pick up immediately. I do think this team is the best team in the Big 10, better than Ohio State and Wisconsin. This Cornhuskers’ defense will be one of the best in the country. Bo Pelini has his boys ready to contend for a conference championship and national title.
4. Florida State Seminoles, ACC
As much as I hate to say FSU is in the hunt for the national championship – they are. They have an absolute cupcake conference in the ACC, and if they lose early to the Oklahoma Sooners, the title run could come up short right there. FSU does return a solid defense but is breaking in new quarterback EJ Manuel. Florida State is stockpiling some talent in Tallahassee as we speak, but it will be what they do with that talent once it gets on campus that will paint Jimbo Fisher’s coaching picture at this university.
5. Stanford Cardinal, Pac-12
If Oregon doesn’t win the Pac-12, I look for Stanford to win it because of the return of Andrew Luck. Even though Jim Harbaugh is gone to the 49ers, he left some pieces in place to make one more run with this group. As long as Andrew Luck is healthy, he will be in the Heisman race and this group will play together as a team under his leadership. I just wonder if this team lost too much from a year ago to really be a player. For now, they are a contender because they have a shot to win the Pac-12.