5 SEC teams looking for revivals in 2013

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Don’t you just love good ole’ southern tent revivals?

If you’ve watched college football at all for the past few years, you’ve learned that the game we are so passionate about is very cyclical. Former powers have fallen into hibernation, while other below-mediocre teams have made a strong push toward relevancy.

That’s the beauty of college football.

Related: Why SEC fans will be at a frenzy in 2013

Five SEC teams missed bowl games in 2012, and four of the five replaced their head coach to open a new era of leadership. Only Missouri returns its fearless leader in Gary Pinkel, and he enters August on the warmest seat.

Let’s cut to the chase – these five are looking for revivals in 2013:

Arkansas

2012 record: 4-8 overall, 2-6 SEC
Biggest game: at Rutgers, week 4
Swing games: Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State
Buzz: Bret Bielema’s schedule is just downright nasty. The Hogs have a lack of proven playmakers on offense, while the defense will be better than advertised. But swing teams like Auburn and Ole Miss will give Arkansas’ defense trouble. Hell, those two will give any team some trouble, but if Arkansas wants to make a bowl game, they must win three of the four against Rutgers, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Auburn

2012 record: 3-9 overall, 0-8 SEC
Biggest game: Mississippi State, week 3
Swing games: Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee
Buzz: Gus Malzahn’s offense is going to score points, but it’s just a matter of question how fast the defense gels as a unit and drastically improves upon last year. Of the five listed teams, Auburn has the best shot to finish with the best record and quickest turnaround. Gene Chizik couldn’t coach, but he could recruit. Malzahn will utilize that talent and transform this program quicker than most anticipate.

Related: 5 games that will scramble your preseason projections

Kentucky

2012 record: 2-10 overall, 0-8 SEC
Biggest game: Western Kentucky, week 1
Swing games: Mississippi State, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Tennessee
Buzz: Mark Stoops has done a fantastic job recruiting and rebranding Kentucky football, but things get real and the reality of the current roster sets in come August. Stoops is tasked with pulling a James Franklin and Hugh Freeze, two coaches who took over two-win teams and sent them to bowl games the very first year with the same players. But UK’s schedule is just not conducive for a quick turnaround, playing the likes of the East gauntlet, along with Bama in the West. So, let’s not be quick to judge Stoops, but even four or five wins would be a huge accomplishment with the schedule and program in its current state.

Missouri

2012 record: 5-7 overall, 2-6 SEC
Biggest game: at Vanderbilt, week 6
Swing games: Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss
Buzz: This team is so interesting to me. Here’s an offense that was so electric in the Big 12 and was hammered by injuries in 2012. Losses against Vandy, Florida and Syracuse could have gone either way. The over/under for this team is 5.5, and I’ll take the over. Games against Vandy, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ole Miss will be the tell-tale whether or not a revival occurs.

Tennessee

2012 record: 5-7 overall, 1-7 SEC
Biggest game: at Florida, week 4
Swing games: Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Kentucky
Buzz: The once college football giant has fallen into hibernation. The once perennial championship contender is now on its fourth coach in six seasons, still picking up the shattered pieces from the (late) Fulmer, Kiffin and Dooley eras. Like Kentucky and Stoops, Butch Jones has done a fantastic job rebranding the program and putting it back on the map, but ultimately, the momentum continues or stops during the season. The over/under is set at 5.5, and with such a brutal schedule, it’s hard to see six wins. Swing games against Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt and Kentucky will seal the Vols’ fate. Ironically, a developing rivalry against Vanderbilt could be the one game that decides their bowl fate.

Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • 1. The Fulmer years were actually some of the best Tennessee ever had. He won more games than most other coaches of his era. He just couldn’t find an offensive coordinator to close for him after Cutcliffe left.

    2. Vandy has always been a rivalry. Franklin has just upped its worth.

  • Jon is once again ahead of most of the SEC sports writers. Can I add that Missouri’s 19 year old James Franklin piled up big numbers but lost some close games on the way to a top 3rd finish in the big 12 as well. I believe this is a leadership and confidence challenge as well as a repetition and resulting skill benefit. Most SEC fans can’t know this yet but Missouri can win at Georgia, and at Kentucky, at Vanderbilt, and at Mississippi. At home Tennessee will be the most likely victim, then Florida, then South Carolina, and even aTm if the defensive scheme is to contain Manziel instead of chase him without a plan. But Missouri’s real challenges don’t totally disappear if the team is 100% healthy. Certain squads are better coached than others and like most college teams any one of these squads can lose a game. If you are looking for result changers in a Missouri v anybody game look at qb, then o-line, then combo of all the receivers and the new coach, then the combo of the Outlaw Josey Wheels, Mercury Murphy, and 3 is more Handy Hansborough, then there are about three other critical squads that personnel seem to have already improved. Contrary to the star raters, the recruit class of 2013 will already be pushing the team even if none of them start yet. I really like this class, and contrary to what Dave Matter wrote in the St. Louis Paper, the St. Louis boys were great grabs.

  • A healthy Mizzou would have beat Georgia, Vanderbilt, Florida and Syracuse last year. But I doubt if a healthy Mizzou would beat Georgia this year. hopefully they’ll get Florida and South Carolina fits at home this year and win at Vandy and Ole Miss. while our starters will be good enough to win 8 or more, we still have issues at depth. so injuries or any absence of oustarters

    • I’m not buying the “a healthy Mizzou would have…” bit. Sure, injuries make it less likely to win down the stretch against tough opponents, but Mizzou was simply not built (as a whole) to compete in the SEC last year and probably won’t be this year. The Georgia-Mizzou game was Mizzou at their best last year (highest morale, lowest number of injuries, etc.) and they still couldn’t pull out a win. Unfortunately, it is still going to take Mizzou a couple of years to get the right players — not just starters, but back-ups as well — to really be competitive season-in and season-out. Staying healthy is huge, but part of staying healthy in this league is recruiting depth. I just hope Pinkel get the chance to do that. Be patient, Mizzou.

      • I’ve got two lines of two words to each for you. this year, and Henry Josey. wall the so-called great running backs in the SEC have very impressive o lines, Hen.ry doesn’t. he doesn’t need one. all he needs is a glint of daylight. he’s a game breaker, a game changer all by himself. Todd Gurley who?

      • Balkans, two important things are missing from this idea, 1st Georgia has suspended players. 2nd Missouri was NOT most healthy early, common dis-regard for the facts. Franklin and Josey were injured last year and the 0-line had a net zero injury rate once the season started, except capt. Elvis got hurt early in the Georgia game. Neither team played great in that game, so both teams can make numerous argument that they could have won and by a bigger margin. Missouri is not going to start recruiting what you see as the model SEC template. If this were possible there would already be 12 teams that look like a combo of aL, LSU, SC, and GA. It’s not going to happen. It’s far more likely that Missouri will have the model qb they want and starts ripping new holes in the imagination of SEC fans.

        • I highly doubt anyone will be saying “Todd Gurley who?” at any point this season; I can say “Josey who?” today, however. Wolfman, I’ll concede the injury of Elvis early in that game and that Franklin may not have been at 100%… He did take a beating that game from Georgia’s defense. However, the suspensions comment doesn’t help your cause — having 4 starters suspended that game was to Mizzou’s advantage. I’ll grant that both teams played skiddish early and that Georgia even looked ugly up to before half time. However, Georgia got better as the game went along while Mizzou faded in the second half.

          I also agree that Mizzou probably won’t try to build the archetypal SEC team. But to think that finding the “model QB” will make them a season-in, season-out contender is to their detriment, I believe. What made Mizzou successful in the Big 12 won’t necessarily make them successful, long-term, in the SEC. They may not want to recruit like LSU, SC, UGA, or Bama, but that will also mean they won’t enjoy the success these programs enjoy, in my opinion.

  • As I started to say. any absence of our starters coul.d make it nearly impossible for us to have the winning ways we are familiar with.

  • I liked the Tennessee offense, sure hope they don’t pull back and start recruiting a defensive plan.

  • Arkansas is jumping from the frying pan into the fire. I just don’t think that B.B is the only coach who can put running back stables and o-linemen on the field. Getting Ark to where WS was is going to take some time and who says WS would ever finish in the top half of the west anyway?