Monday, August 18, 2008

Look for Auburn to win the SEC West this year

The Southeastern Conference's Western Division will be a division of plateaus this year.

The top two teams are clearly defending national champion LSU and Auburn. Alabama and Mississippi State should slug it out for third place, while Ole Miss and Arkansas will bring up the rear.

How will it all shake out? Let's take a look.

1. Auburn Tigers – After much consideration, I'm giving Auburn the nod to win the division. While mystery still remains around its spread offense, the defense should remain formidable enough to win games early in the season while the offense works out the kinks. The Tigers toughest conference games are at home (LSU and Tennessee), and their toughest conference road contest will be at Alabama. However, the Tigers are definitely in Bama's head and should continue their recent mastery of them. Also, kudos to Auburn for scheduling one of the most interesting non-conference games of the year. They will visit West Virginia on October 23.

2. LSU Tigers – It's true that LSU has tons of talent, but the Tigers have a gaping hole at quarterback. Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed from the team leaving them with little experience at the position. Also, while the Tigers had a great season last year, they also caught a lot of breaks (the most notable being when they threw a touchdown pass on the last play of the Auburn game when a short field goal was all that was needed). The breaks have a way of evening out, and I believe that will happen some this year.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide – Alabama has a lot of question marks. They staggered down the stretch last year, but according to the "experts" they recruited a great freshman class. If this young talent blossoms this year, Bama could win eight or nine games. If not, they could wind up in the Independence Bowl for the second straight year. Alabama is a program on the move, but they are at least one year away from challenging for the divisional title.

4. Mississippi State Bulldogs – The Bulldogs were the feel good story of last year. After a lot of hard work and patience, Coach Sylvester Croom squeezed eight wins out of his team after struggling to rebuild the program. A lot of experienced players return, but the Bulldogs must improve their passing offense, which ranked 113th in the nation last year. State will not sneak up on anyone this year.

5. Mississippi Rebels – Perhaps the most important change in the conference since last season was the hiring of Houston Nutt as new head coach at Ole Miss. Most believe the Rebels have good young talent. Nutt has a strong reputation as a motivator and developer of talent. If he can apply those skills successfully at Ole Miss, the Rebels may be entering an era of success

6. Arkansas Razorbacks – Truthfully, I don't know what to make of Arkansas. New coach Bobby Petrino showed when he coached Louisville that he can develop a powerhouse. However, he isn't coaching in the Big East anymore, and the cupboard may be a little bare when it comes to talent at Arkansas. However, give them credit for playing on the road at Texas in September.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything but the top two. I think LSU will win the title.