Thursday, July 10, 2008

Predictions: Final SEC Standings

As promised in the previous post, I'm providing my predictions for the final SEC football standings for this season.

1. Georgia, 2. Tennessee, 3. Florida, 4. South Carolina, 5. Kentucky, 6. Vandy

Most of the media has an embarrassing man-crush on both Coach Urban Crier and Tim T-Bone, but Tebow's antics are going to catch up with him sometime. It's a matter of time before he gets sidelined from a concussion or a shoulder separation. Florida needs to replace a lot of defense too, but they'll have plenty of weapons.

I think Tennessee will be a lot better than people think, but UGA should navigate the East as champion and finish with one or two losses overall. The Evil Genius in Columbia has some talent to develop on the o-line, so I see the Gamecocks a year away from being a serious contender again. They could upset some people though, so it's spoiler mode once again. 

Both Kentucky and Vandy are in serious rebuilding mode.

1. Auburn, 2. LSU, 3. Alabama, 4. Ole Miss, 5. Arkansas, 6. Mississippi State

Both LSU and Auburn have similar profiles: great defenses, solid o-lines, strong running backs, and questions at the QB position. Les "The Mad Hatter" Miles' penchant for questionable but gutsy decisions will come home to roost this year, so I expect the Bayou Bengals to lose some close games even though they might have the most talent in college football. Auburn will have a stout defense, and their spread offense will work well. They also have a favorable schedule, so that helps too.

And now Alabama gets its own paragraphs, of course.

As much as I'd loved to predict that Alabama will win the West, I doubt it will happen. I think the offense will be quite good, and John Parker Wilson must improve his accuracy and decision-making to get us to contend. The offense is now using its third different offensive coordinator in three years, so there will be some growing pains. But I gather that McElwain's offensive schemes will open up a more diversified passing and running attack (short to mid-range passing, screens, etc.). I welcome that.

The huge question mark for the Crimson Tide is the defense, the side of the ball that Coach Saban prides himself on. The down linemen will be serviceable, but the linebacking corps invites serious concern. Ezekial Knight will probably not be cleared medically because of heart murmurs. Jimmy Johns recently got kicked off the team. And Prince Hall has been in Saban's doghouse since he took over in Tuscaloosa. Three incoming freshmen (Harris, Hightower, and Upshaw) will probably log serious playing time this year, with one of two maybe being starters, which is usually an indication that a team is in store for a tough year. 

Saban has cleaned out the driftwood in the program over the past year--getting rid of people who don't want to work or don't want to participate in what he calls "the process." They've been processed off the team, and that has created depth issues.

Ole Miss was smart as heck in hiring Nutt, and I look forward to watching the Rebels beat the Hogs in Fayette Nam on Oct. 25. The Rebels will have a good offense, but that defense could be worse than Alabama's.

Both Arkansas and State are in rebuilding modes with the Razorbacks significantly changing their offensive philosophy, and the Bulldogs lost a number of good players, changed defensive coordinators, and still don't have much of an offense. 

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