Ranking The Top 15 SEC Out Of Conference Opponents

Saturday Down South ranks the SEC out of conference opponents for 2011:

1. Oregon Ducks (12-1) PAC 12
The Oregon Ducks return the most potent offensive attack in the country in 2011, and they take on LSU on September 3rd at Jerry World in Arlington. Oregon features a strong rushing attack from running back LaMichael James. James rushed for 1,731 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also finished third in the Heisman voting.

2. Boise State Broncos (12-1) Mountain West Conference
Boise State returns their star senior quarterback Kellen Moore, and he is poised to take down another giant in the Georgia Bulldogs game one in Atlanta on September 3rd. Moore threw for 3,845 yards and 35 touchdowns. He has thrown 99 career touchdowns.

3. Florida State Seminoles (10-4) ACC
Florida State takes on Florida November 26th in the Swamp, and they look to continue their hot streak against the SEC. Last year, the Seminoles were 2-0 against the SEC, defeating Florida and South Carolina in the bowl game. Quarterback EJ Manuel takes over full-time at quarterback, and I fully expect him to run the football early and often from the quarterback position. I’m still not convinced FSU is “back”, even though they flew a banner over Florida’s spring game that had last year’s score of the game…only college football!

4. Texas A&M Aggies (9-4) Big 12
The Aggies take on Arkansas on October 1st at Jerry World. A&M was dominated in the bowl game against LSU this past season; however, they return Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, and overall it’s a very potent offensive attack. Arkansas better be on their game when they roll into this one.

5. West Virginia Mountaineers (9-4) Big East
Hopefully new coach in waiting Dana Holgerson remains sober by the time LSU gets to town on September 24th. Nonetheless, couches will be burning in mass quantities after this one is over, but you do have to respect West Virginia because they will have some offensive firepower under Holgerson and quarterback Eugene Smith. I love West Virginia to win the Big East in 2011.

6. Penn State Nittany Lions (7-6) Big Ten
Penn State hosts Alabama on September 10th in Happy Valley. That stadium will be rocking at home for their 157-year old coach Joe Paterno. All kidding aside, Penn State always has a solid team, so it will be a tough test going on the road against any team in the Big Ten on your second game of the year. We will know what kind of football Alabama is from the get-go.

7. BYU Cougars (7-6) Independent
Don’t let last year’s record fool you – the Cougars are an up-and-coming program. With now-sophomore Jake Heaps at quarterback, the Cougars can do some damage along the offensive side of the football. BYU takes on Ole Miss September 3rd in Oxford, and hopefully the Rebels come to play some football.

8. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-6) ACC
The Georgia Bulldogs always have a tough task taking on the Yellow Jackets year after year. This year, the game will be played in Atlanta on Georgia Tech’s campus. Tech’s triple option ground attack is good for eating up clock but not for beating SEC football teams. Mark Richt better hope he wins this football game, if he is still around then.

9. Clemson Tigers (6-7) ACC
Isn’t it funny how Clemson keeps racking up talent in Clemson when they are under .500? I sure find it amusing. Nonetheless, Auburn has to travel to Clemson this year September 17th, and South Carolina also has to play at Clemson on November 26th. Clemson does have one heck of a recruiting coordinator named Dabo, but I’m not sure if he’s the right fit as a head coach. Watch out for freshman running back Mike Bellamy and freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

10. Louisville Cardinals (7-6) Big East
The Fightin’ Charlie Strongs are getting better and better each year. Strong is recruiting talent in Louisville for one main reason – to beat the Kentucky Wildcats. This in-state rivalry known as the Governor’s Cup will take place on September 17th. Kentucky will have their hands full. Watch out for freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

11. Connecticut Huskies (8-5) Big East
UConn is the defending Big East winner, but they lost their stud running back to the NFL and head coach to Maryland. However, there is still talent that Randy Edsall left behind. Vanderbilt hosts UConn September 10th in NashVegas.

12. Fresno State Bulldogs (8-5) WAC
The notorious giant killers from the WAC, the Fresno State Bulldogs travel to Oxford this year to take on Ole Miss. The Rebels waxed that hiney last year 55-38, but the Bulldogs always have a good enough team to win against anyone.

13. Navy Midshipmen (9-4) Independent
The Midshipmen lose quarterback Ricky Dobbs but return head coach Ken Niumatalolo and their triple option attack. Navy travels to Columbia to take on South Carolina September 17th. The Midshipmen do return senior Alexander Teich (863 yards, 5.9 avg) and junior Gee Gee Greene (492 yards, 6.8 avg), as well as four starting offensive linemen. The South Carolina game could end up being somewhat interesting if their defense can keep the Gamecocks’ scoring to a minimum.

14. East Carolina (6-7) C-USA
The Pirates of East Carolina host the South Carolina Gamecocks on September 3rd, a rather interesting game. ECU always fields an athletic team in contention with the C-USA Championship.

15. Cincinnati Bearcats (4-8) Big East
One year removed from Brian Kelly taking over at Notre Dame, the Bearcats had a major drop off. However, don’t let their awful record fool you. The Bearcats have an adequate defensive line, a solid quarterback and a running back by the name of Isaiah Pead who averaged 6.6 yards per carry in 2010. Tennessee hosts Cincinnati on September 17th.

The Rest of the Victims:

FAU, Alabama-Birmingham, Furman, Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State University, Western Kentucky, Central Michigan, Jacksonville State, The Citadel, Montana, The Citadel, Montana, Buffalo, Middle Tennessee State, Elon, Army, Wake Forest, Kent State, North Texas, Georgia Southern, Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy, Utah State, Samford University, Northwestern State, Memphis, Louisiana Tech, UAB, UT-Martin, Southern Illinois