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2011 SEC Midseason Recap: Revisiting Preseason Predicitons

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It is the middle of the season for college football and as promised, I am going to review my preseason predictions for the East and West and adjust them accordingly.

SEC EAST

Florida
Preseason Prediction: 9-3
Florida’s season took a turn for the worse when QB John Brantley went down with injury. It didn’t help that the Gators had to play the best two defenses in the country in consecutive weeks (Alabama and LSU). Nine wins seems a long way away but if the offense can stabilize it should take some pressure off the defense. The Gators have a favorable remaining schedule with the biggest games coming against Georgia and at South Carolina.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 8-4
I still think this is a good team in spite of their glaring issues with quality depth. However, they are probably a year away from making a run back to the top of the East.

South Carolina
Preseason Prediction: 9-3
Wow one loss and the wheels have seemingly come off with South Carolina. Stephen Garcia’s dismissal from the team is a surprise to no one but him (though I do think it was handled poorly). The defense has flashes of good followed by mind-numbing mistakes. Note: learn to lean on RB Marcus Lattimore. He’s good enough to carry you.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 10-2
I know it may sound crazy, but I think the Gamecocks can win the East and make a repeat trip to Atlanta. They have a favorable remaining conference schedule and seem to have righted a listing ship. If they don’t, kiss Spurrier goodbye.

Georgia
Preseason Prediction: 8-4
I don’t know how Mark Richt continues to do it but after starting the season going down in flames, Georgia has pulled out of the nosedive once again. To save his job, I do think he needs to win against Florida and this year, that seems doable.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 9-3
The only thing that will keep Georgia out of the SEC Championship Game is that early season loss to South Carolina.

Tennessee
Preseason Prediction: 7-5
Tennessee is about what I expected. They are young and talented, particularly on offense, but don’t have the depth to hang in there with the better teams of the league right now.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 7-5
The Volunteers need a good bowl showing to bring in some more recruits and help the rebuild especially on defense.

Vanderbilt
Preseason Prediction: 4-8
I didn’t expect much out of Vandy and they have been surprisingly better. They can create turnovers against some teams and make the weaker opponents pay for those mistakes. They still have a long way to go but people in Nashville have to be pleased so far.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 5-7
Vanderbilt’s defense has improved tremendously in James Franklin’s first year. Now if only that offense was worth anything.

Kentucky
Preseason Prediction: 3-9
I knew Kentucky was going to be bad but they are downright pathetic in every phase of the game. There’s a ton of youth to blame that on and that will probably buy the coaching staff some much needed time to reload. That is, unless the basketball team disappoints then the knives will be out.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 3-9
Kentucky will be good on the hard court and soft on the gridiron – as usual.

SEC WEST

Alabama
Preseason Prediction: 10-2
I didn’t know if what Alabama had at quarterback was going to be good enough. Well, it is. It’s more than enough because that defense isn’t surrendering anything to the opposition. Only on a couple of blown plays all season has another team gotten close on Alabama.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 12-0
I guess I’m tipping my hand for a game coming in early November but I just don’t see another team in the league that can beat this one. Until proven otherwise, I think Alabama runs the table.

LSU
Preseason Prediction: 9-3
I didn’t expect LSU’s offense to be all that good and I thought the defense would take longer to mature. Well, the offense isn’t overwhelming but it’s doing enough (like Alabama) to get them by. Again, no one can get through that blizzard of white, purple, and gold coming at them from that buzzsaw defense.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 11-1
If I had it my way, the LSU-Alabama game would be moved to the SEC Championship in December. Better yet, they could just play that game in New Orleans in January for all of it because these are the best two teams in the country hands down.

Auburn
Preseason Prediction: 6-6
Well, the defense was horrible early on and now is back to being mostly mediocre. The offense performed early but now is stuck in the mud and sinking fast. Many want to blame the players but honestly that’s not all that fair. It’s more on the coaches. Gene Chizik has proven more than once he can rally the group and he’ll need to if Auburn is going to make the bowl season. Not making one coming off a National Championship would be most disappointing.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 6-6
It won’t take much more for Auburn to make a bowl game as long as they can stay on the right side of injuries and hold their own turf against a couple of bad teams coming up on the schedule.

Arkansas
Preseason Prediction: 10-2
Arkansas’ offense is exactly what I expected from the passing game. Though losing the RB Knile Davis did hurt rushing efforts early, the Hogs have found a way back to some of that as they season has progressed. The schedule isn’t horrible and they should be able to win over evenly-matched teams or the downright dreck they play the back half of the year.

Adjusted and Final Prediction: 9-3
I may have missed when I stepped out on a limb and picked Arkansas as my darkhorse SEC champion this year, but I still say this is a good football team with a formula to be a 9 or 10 win team each year. If they want more than that, they need a serious defense.

Mississippi State
Preseason Prediction: 7-5
I was the only person I knew who wasn’t drinking the Dan Mullen kool-aid in the preseason. This team had glaring issues on defense that hadn’t been addressed and I just don’t think he has the guys to totally run that offense yet in Starkville.
Adjusted and Final Prediction: 6-6
I had no idea they would so demoralized after an early season loss to Auburn. This team is lining up for a few more losses as well but should still make a bowl game. It is still a disappointment to many though.

Ole Miss
Preseason Prediction: 4-8
I thought Ole Miss would be bad and they are just that. Pitful on offense, pitiful on defense, pitiful at the head coaching spot.
Adjusted and Final Prediction: 4-8
I like Houston Nutt but his days in the SEC are done.

So I’m picking South Carolina vs. Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. That is, until I change my mind again later.

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