SEC football returns next month. Indeed, August 29th will be a great day, as three SEC teams get ready for a dogfight.
Alabama enters as the prohibitive favorite to win the SEC and the BCS, but after Alabama, there’s a cluster of five teams in the mix. Most are quick to say if not Alabama, then either Georgia or South Carolina.
Although most figure the East to have the two major players aside from Bama, I’m not ready to say the East is stronger than the West…yet. Is it Alabama and everyone else? No way. There are two other major players hungry for a championship. SDS’ predictions and picks will be released soon.
Related: Who will win the SEC East?
Who doesn’t have Alabama repeating as champions? (Crickets). If you don’t – yeah I hear you College Station and Baton Rouge – you need to check your pulse. Nick Saban has created a machine, but one thing to remember about Saban is that he could take over another middle-to-upper SEC team and beat this Bama team. That’s how good he is. From AJ McCarron, TJ Yeldon and Amari Cooper to CJ Mosley, HaHa Clinton-Dix and Adrian Hubbard, this team is nasty on both sides of the ball and could become Saban’s best team yet. And the schedule sets up perfectly…Several are discounting LSU. I’m not discounting them, but I’m not sold on this team being ready to win a championship. If Zach Mettenberger can blossom this year and an inexperienced defense can gel, the Tigers have a chance to knock off TAMU and Alabama. The over/under is set at 9.5, and I’m taking the under…Texas A&M’s offense is ready to compete for a championship, but I’m not sure they have the hawses on defense. They reminds me of the 2010 Auburn team that came out of nowhere with one all-star player on both sides of the ball and beat Oregon for the natty. Johnny Manziel already said he wanted a Cam Newton-like season, but is the offense too reliant upon Manziel? Does it matter?
Is Ole Miss ready to contend for a West championship? I argue here they are dark-horse contenders right now, based on several factors. But beating LSU and Texas A&M, which almost happened last year, is a quite the lofty goal, but both return to Oxford in 2013. The Rebels are more than likely a year away from competing for the West title, but don’t completely count them out yet. With 18 returning starters, this group could surprise.
Better than advertised
We know the shape of the program Gus Malzahn inherits at Auburn. It’s battered and down, but it doesn’t lack talent. Gene Chizik signed top classes every year, but he couldn’t develop them. That’s what Malzahn has to do. Typically, first-year head coaches with spread offenses give SEC defenses trouble. Malzahn has a chance to have the best season of any new SEC coach in 2013. Eight wins are not out of the question.
Arkansas’ overall roster isn’t ready to compete for the West. Bret Bielema and the Hogs’ goal is to just get to a bowl game after last year’s fiasco. The good thing is that Bielema has eight returning starters on defense and the defensive unit should show marked improvement…Mississippi State could be bringing up the rear in 2013. This team benefited from a +16 TO margin last season and reached as high as No. 13 in the polls, but went just 1-4 down the stretch. The Bulldogs will only be favored in four or five games.
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