Five teams with best chance to dethrone the SEC

NCAA Football: Stanford-Spring Game

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The SEC enters 2013 once again with a target on its back. The never-ending flame burns with raging envy.

The formula for beating an SEC team isn’t exactly known, and teams would have to play their best game on that one night to make it happen.

Now, I’m not saying the SEC will be dethroned – even for the foreseeable future – but here are the five most likely teams to make a run at it in 2013:

1. Stanford Cardinal

Buzz: Speaking of Stanford, the Cardinal match up with the SEC the best. They remind many of last year’s Notre Dame…but better. They return five of their front seven on defense, headlined by linebacker Shane Skov. But the offensive line could be the best in college football, with four returning starters and uber-talented Andrus Peat stepping into the vacant slot. David Shaw has an NFL pedigree, and the Cardinal haven’t skipped a beat since Jim Harbaugh left. Shaw is 23-4 since taking over the job, and Stanford may be the team that plays the SEC in Pasadena.

2. Oregon Ducks

Buzz: The one team that scares the SEC the most isn’t Stanford or Ohio State; it’s Oregon and their electrifying offense. True, Auburn and LSU have shut it down in recent memory, but this year they have a chance to be great. The Ducks have two Heisman candidates in QB Marcus Mariota and RB De’Anthony Thomas. All total, the Ducks have 15 returning starters, with seven coming on defense. The biggest asset that isn’t returning? Chip Kelly. New head coach Mark Helfrich will be under the microscope, but he’s taking over a loaded roster that essentially has one game to get past, Stanford.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Buzz: SEC nation would enjoy a championship game that includes Ohio State. What the SEC wouldn’t give to get another shot at Urban Meyer on college football’s biggest stage. It isn’t that Ohio State is so great; it has more to do with the Big Ten being slightly more competitive than the Big East. Urban Meyer has his guy in Braxton Miller who will put up big numbers, but he isn’t Johnny Manziel. The Buckeyes return one starter in the front seven at linebacker, but they return nine of 11 on offense. The Buckeyes should run the Big Ten, setting up a championship all SEC fans will love.

Related: Why SEC fan bases will unite over Urban Meyer in 2013

4. Texas Longhorns

Buzz: Texas is merely a shadow SEC team, but they do return 19 starters, including maligned quarterback David Ash. This will be Mack Brown’s best team in a few years, but will it be his best coaching job? Are those days behind him? They could put a great season together and surprise everyone. Are you buying it? The roster is loaded with talent, but they’ll have to avoid pulling a Texas to get another shot at the SEC.

Related: Why Texas A&M is dominating Texas right now

Dark horse

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Buzz: The Cowboys are the Big 12 favorites, and they play Mississippi State the first week. What will we learn? Eh, not much. But the Pokes return an electric offense and a favorable schedule that could land them a goose egg in the ‘L’ column. An unbeaten Big 12 team has a great opportunity to land in the national championship game. It’s a boom-or-bust year for the Cowboys, who welcome two new coordinators.

COMMENTS

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  • If there is any team from the West Coast that can match up physically with an SEC school, it’s Stanford, and they have a chance to run the table this season. I’m still not sold on Oregon yet. Sure the pieces are in place, but having a new coach is always a mystery. And even if the Ducks were to come out of the season unscathed, I’m still skeptical about how they would match up with a true SEC defense. Yes they do have weapons, and their offense presents a serious threat to a big SEC defense. But when you really examine their last two games versus SEC opponents (LSU in 2011 and Auburn in 2010), they were never able to establish a true running game – and that was when they had LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, and Darren Thomas. In both games, they were held to under 100 yards rushing. And even Auburn, a team that gave up 25 ppg in the regular season, was able to hold the speedy Ducks to just two TDs. As for Ohio State, I still think that the Big 10 (12 whatever) is capable of standing toe-to-toe with the SEC’s physicality. All of these teams mentioned are capable of running the table, I agree with that. But for the teams mentioned that have the mindset of just “out scoring their opponent,” you leave your team susceptible of being best.

    • I agree with you. All of those teams have a good chance of going undefeated. But the only one I see that is a true threat to actually beating an SEC team for the championship is Stanford. They play just as physical as most of the SEC teams. Oregon and Oklahoma State’s offenses would pose a threat but as you said, it’d hard for them to establish a run game. And it’s hard to tell just what exactly Ohio State is capable of becasue of their cupcake schedule.

  • Ohio State has the best chance of running the table and getting an automatic bid into the championship game, so I’m taking them to match-up against the SEC Champion in Pasadena in January. After that, I think the dark horse is the next surest bet. Stanford is the best built to challenge the SEC in a game, but I don’t think they’ll come through the season unscathed. I think we’ll see issues with Oregon (HC is a lot different than OC) and I’m not buying any Longhorns stock. Look for Ohio State-Alabama, Ohio State-Georgia, or Ohio State-A&M for the title game, with the possibility of Oklahoma State sneaking past Ohio State.

    • Ohio State has the best chance of running the table and getting an automatic bid into the championship game, so I’m taking them to match-up against the SEC Champion in Pasadena in January. After that, I think the dark horse is the next surest bet. Stanford is the best built to challenge the SEC in a game, but I don’t think they’ll come through the season unscathed. I think we’ll see issues with Oregon (HC is a lot different than OC) and I’m not buying any Longhorns stock. Look for Ohio State-Alabama, Ohio State-Georgia, or Ohio State-A&M for the title game, with the possibility of Oklahoma State sneaking past Ohio State…. Oh, and eight straight!