We’re less than a week until SEC football kicks off, and here are the six biggest questions entering 2013:
1. How will Johnny hold up under Manziel Mania? Will he play?
Texas A&M won’t park the Manziel train on the sidelines unless actual evidence is found. In fact, I look for him to start against Rice next week. Ultimately, Texas A&M will make the best decision for them as a program, because it’s bigger than one player and they’re building a behemoth. Assuming he plays, Johnny will be Johnny and chew up and spit out defenses. Maybe he won’t reach 5,100 total yards again, but don’t expect a sophomore slump. He’s a tireless worker whose overall game can improve upon the raw fascination we saw last season.
2. Who could beat Alabama and why?
Aside from Manziel Mania, everyone around college football is asking this question: How can they beat Alabama? Can anyone unseat the Tide? There are three areas of concern, aside from injuries. 1. Will they get complacent? Some new starters have waken up on third base with two rings not knowing how they got to first. That’s a problem if they assume the train will keep rolling without the hard work and dedication to intricate details. 2. The secondary – three teams can expose them: Texas A&M, LSU and the East winner. Johnny Manziel had success, as did Zach Mettenberger. 3. Offensive line – The Tide have recruited well, so don’t expect a massive difference, but with three new starters on one of college football’s best O-lines gone, there will be a drop off. How big? We’re going to find out.
3. Who will win the SEC East?
One of the most fascinating storylines to watch unfold in 2013 is the SEC East. Three teams – Florida, Georgia and South Carolina – will go toe-to-toe for the trip to Atlanta. Interestingly, they all have different strengths. Georgia’s offense is explosive, while Florida’s could have the best defense in the SEC. South Carolina may be the most complete team. Steve Spurrier, Mark Richt and Will Muschamp – three good coaches trying to exit the East race the winner. This will be a thriller.
Related: SEC predictions 2013
4. Who will be the SEC’s national championship opponent?
Let’s go ahead and assume the SEC Champion will be playing in Pasadena. One of the biggest unknowns is the team they will face. Here are some to watch: Louisville, Florida State, Clemson, Texas, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Oregon and Stanford. It should be one of those eight. The biggest projection right now would be Ohio State, simply because of the weak Big Ten. The Buckeyes should go undefeated. However, Stanford and Oregon are better suited for knocking off the SEC.
5. Which team will have the biggest turnaround?
Last year it was Ole Miss. Who will it be in 2013? Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee are all teams looking to have a revival. However, Auburn is best suited to have the immediate turnaround. Gene Chizik’s problem wasn’t acquiring talent. He signed top 10 caliber recruiting classes every year. His problem was developing the players once they stepped on campus. Think of the two marquee players Chizik is known for – Cam Newton and Nick Fairley. Both were JUCO transfers. Now, Malzahn has talent already on the roster and in the program; he just has to develop and fully utilize what he inherits. It wouldn’t surprise me if Malzahn won seven or eight games in 2013.
6. Which star will shine the brightest?
The SEC in 2013 is all about star power. From the big quarterback trio in Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray, to the sophomore phenoms Todd Gurley and TJ Yeldon, the offense is loaded – and don’t forget about Amari Cooper. Similarly, Jadeveon Clowney, CJ Mosley, Loucheiz Purifoy and the defenders will have something to say about it, too. But which star will shine the brightest? Which player exits the season the most talked about? Last year it was Johnny Manziel. Who will it be this year?
Photo Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-US PRESSWIRE