The time has finally come for SDS to make some predictions on the year. It’s game week, people, and be sure to soak all of it in, because it will be gone before we know it.
BCS National Champion: LSU Tigers
LSU is the deepest team in the SEC, and they enter 2012 with a chip on their shoulder. Yeah, they lose Honey Badger, but they are one of the deepest rosters in the league, with tons of NFL talent. The Tigers now have a quarterback who can stretch the field, not leaving many teams the ability to load the box against the vaunted running game. The Tigers will likely play USC, Oregon or Florida State, but don’t count out Big 12 newcomer West Virginia or Oklahoma, either. The SEC will win it’s 7th in a row, and most people aren’t expecting it to happen.
SEC Champion: LSU Tigers
2012 will not be like 2011. The winner of the SEC will make it to the national championship game, and two from the SEC won’t. LSU will probably lose one game during the regular season – likely to one of Alabama or Arkansas – before marching their way to Miami to play for all the marbles.
Game of the Year: Alabama at LSU, November 3rd
Much like last year, the regular season clash between Alabama and LSU will once again be the best football game in the SEC for 2012. Both will likely be top five teams by the time sweet November rolls around. Dubbed the game of the century last season, what will it be called this season?
Most Improved Player: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Jadeveon Clowney had a very good freshman season by anyone’s standards, but he’s looking to really improve upon last season. We know this kid has all the talent in the world, but he’s now starting to combine raw talent with technique and skill. That’s a deadly combination. 2012 will be the year of Clowney.
Breakout Player of the Year: QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Zach Mettenberger has all the ingredients around him to be a big-time breakout player in his first year starting. LSU has four returning starters on the offensive line, two starters returning at receiver and four running backs who could start for really any team in the SEC. This offense is talented, and the Tigers only need a quarterback who can give them balance and stretch the field. That guy is on campus, finally. Expect Mettenberger to do big things for the Tigers in 2012.
Comeback Player of the Year: RB Knile Davis, Arkansas
This came down to Marcus Lattimore and Knile Davis. If I had one player to take right now on my team, it would be Lattimore. But I think Knile Davis has the higher ceiling and is really fresh coming off last year’s missed season. He’s gotten stronger, faster and more explosive. Look for Davis to finish what he started in the latter half of 2010 and have some very explosive offensive numbers, as Tyler Wilson will help open up the running game.
Freshman of the Year: WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
Much like Mettenberger, DGB is stepping into a perfect position at Missouri. He mimics Baby Lebron in his physical stature. The best thing about a raw athletic receiver like DGB is that there are veterans around him at the same position who help relieve pressure knowing he doesn’t have to be ‘the guy’ in year one. He has an experienced quarterback who has a strong arm and is very accurate. I like DGB to be the top freshman for 2012.
Wild Card Team: Mississippi State
After a letdown in 2011, several teams in the SEC will once again take Dan Mullen and Mississippi State lightly. Road games in Starkville are always tough to play, and State hosts several big ones in Auburn, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Arkansas all at home. The Bulldogs might not be a favorite to finish in the top three in the West, but they really could surprise some people this season. This is an experienced defense, with an experienced quarterback and wide receivers. I doubt MSU will win the West, but nine wins in the regular season is not out of the question. They get to a bowl game and could get win #10.