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Southeastern Conference Preseason Predictions

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It is time for the annual media convergence for the Southeastern Conference (a.k.a. SEC Media Days), the official/unofficial kickoff to the college football season for fans of various SEC teams. Media Days is essentially a series of stump speeches by the SEC coaches and a selected collection of players from the 12 member institutions. For the fans, this information is rarely reveling, but it kick starts discussion about which team will win what in the coming months. Preseason picks are generally a source of much of this discussion and we have gathered our own group of experts to pick the SEC for 2009. We asked our experts to present final ranks (1-6) in the SEC East and West, the SEC Champion, and a synopsis of their rankings. Some are serious, some are more tongue-in-cheek, but they are the official BC Sports SEC Preseason Picks.

Jay Skipworth Blogcritics Sports Writer

SEC East
Florida
Georgia
South Carolina
Tennessee
Vanderbilt
Kentucky
SEC West
LSU
Alabama
Arkansas
Ole Miss
Auburn
Mississippi State

SEC Champion: LSU Tigers

Florida is the class of the SEC East and for good reason. Meyer’s Gators return the entire defense and biggest cogs of an offensive machine. There’s no other team in the East I see passing Florida this year, but they will not go through the entire season unscathed. Such a thing is simply unheard of in the SEC and is not even necessary (three of the last four BCS champions from the SEC all sported at least one regular season loss). Georgia and South Carolina are the best of the rest in that division. Tennessee is loaded with talent, but I am reserving judgment on whether or not Lane Kiffin can keep it under control. Vanderbilt and Kentucky bring up the back side of the division, but are by no means to be looked over as both are sport teams with a recent track of success to build on for the future.

As for the SEC West, LSU is loaded with a scary amount of elite talent. Jordan Jefferson came on fast as a quarterback late last season and despite the quirkiness of head coach Les Miles, the Bayou Tigers have as manageable a schedule a team can hope for the SEC. Alabama will be a strong second place team that is a year away from a serious run back to Atlanta. My surprise team is Arkansas which I expect to be much improved on defense and even better on offense in the second year of Bobby Petrino. I don’t buy the hype surrounding Mississippi (a.k.a. Ole Miss) as most of it is based on a strong finish in a bowl game (very much like the Georgia Bulldogs received before last year after waxing Hawai’i in a bowl game). Auburn and Mississippi State are in reload/rebuild mode this year.

I see the SEC Championship as a rematch of what should be one of the better regular season games between Florida & LSU. It is hard to beat a team once and near impossible to do it twice which is why I give the regular season win to the Gator, but I will take my chances with LSU to win the SEC Championship Game.

Josh Hathaway Blogcritics Sr. Editor

SEC East
Florida
Tennessee
Georgia
Kentucky
S. Carolina
Vanderbilt
SEC West
Alabama
Ole Miss
LSU
Arkansas
Auburn
Mississippi State

SEC Champion: Florida Gators

The 2009 SEC East barely merits mentioning. It's been Florida and everyone else for years, but it feels that way all the more this year. Florida won a title and kept several of their best players. Urban Meyer's recruiting classes remain obscene. There is no reason to think they won't dominate. Picking a second place in the SEC East feels pointless, but here we go: last year was supposed to be Georgia's year, but injuries and hyperbole ended their title hopes and now those players have gone. Mark Richt is an excellent coach, but he's going to have a lot of work to do to fill the holes he now has. Lane Kiffin has demonstrated an alarming lack of maturity and professionalism, but he has a little talent on his roster and an excellent set of assistant coaches. At a time when Georgia is down, that might be enough for Tennessee to finish a distant second. Kiffin could also divide that locker room and cause them to completely implode. Either scenario is likely. Until we really know what Georgia has, there's nothing to see in the East but the Gators.

You can make a case (again) for any of the top three teams in the West to win this division. Alabama has to replace a QB and an offensive line. They return a monstrous defense. The Tide has had back-to-back stellar recruiting classes (#1 rankings by some respected recruiting services), so Saban & Co. have some options when it comes to filling the holes. The SEC West is going to be decided when 'Bama travels to Oxford to play Houston Nutt's Ole Miss Rebels. For what might be the first time in school history, there are high expectations in OXford and no one named Manning is on the roster. Houston Nutt has talented players and knows how to win in the SEC. They are a real threat to finally play in the SEC Championship (the only West division team not to since its inception). Like Saban at Alabama, Bobby Petrino went young last year at Arkansas and after getting boatraced by Texas and the Tide early, the Razorbacks really improved. They are a dark horse candidate to derail someone. Mississippi State has a young coaching staff but lacks talent. Auburn returns a team with no offensive line or linebacking depth and serious questions at QB. It's going to be a long year on The Plains this year.

Alabama has upside and if things go just right, they could have a team capable of toppling the Gators. Florida has already demonstrated what they're capable of doing. Until a team rises above them, they are the standard by which the conference and the nation are judged.

Matt Sussman Blogcritics Sports Editor

SEC East
Georgia
Vanderbilt
Florida
South Carolina
Kentucky
Tennessee
SEC West
LSU
Auburn
Mississippi State
Alabama
Arkansas
Mississippi

SEC Champion: LSU Tigers

For this set of picks, all teams will be judged based on the funniest names on their spring roster.

I like Georgia out of the SEC East. They have some great young talent in Twoey Josch and Bacarri Rambo, while led by senior tackle Vince Vance and junior wide receiver Craig Sager, who I hope also dresses provocatively whenever possible. My surprise team will be Vanderbilt, who will get some great contributions by sophomore end Tim Fugger and freshman lineman Justin Cabbagestalk, who was First Team All-VeggieTales his senior year in high school. If he stays healthy, junior lineman Maurice Hurt will help sophomore safety Will Hill and the rest of the Florida Gators to finish third. South Carolina will end up fourth, featuring standout junior tight end Foxy Foxworth and sophomore linebacker Shaq Wilson. Kentucky has the sensational freshman tackle Trevino Woods, who has a tremendous short game, but that's about it. And senior wideout Bram Cannon just isn't enough firepower for Tennessee.

LSU is a lock to win the SEC West. Sophomore lineman T-Bob Hebert and junior defensive back Jim Rome will continue to rack the opposition, and they'll be joined by three new faces: defensive lineman Phillip Blitch, linebacker Barkevious Mingo, and wideout Jhyryn Taylor. They should beat the triple gaiting threat of Tommy Trott, Ralph Spry, and Clayton Crofoot of Auburn. Mississippi State has some nice building blocks with senior wide receiver Tay Bowser and ravin' sophomore lineman DJ Looney. Alabama is left with Brad Smelley at tight end, Arkansas has nothing but freshman quarterback Clay Borengasser, and Mississippi's roster is quite barren, save for head coach Houston Nutt.

Georgia has had some great recent players, notably Knowshon Moreno, but LSU just has too much namepower on their roster. It's their conference to lose.

Eddie McCoy Auburn Football Insider.com/Podcast

SEC East
Florida
Tennessee
Georgia
Kentucky
South Carolina
Vanderbilt

SEC West
LSU
Ole Miss
Alabama
Auburn
Arkansas
Mississippi State

SEC Champion: Florida Gators

Florida is by far the best team on paper. The Gators return their entire leading Scoring defense (Providing the CB arrested plays) and they return seven on the leading scoring offense with Percy Harvin and their starting tackles being their main loss. This team is solid and has depth at every position. Florida also has a somewhat favorable schedule so it is hard to imagine Florida not making it to Atlanta. As for the SEC West, I really like LSU to be representing the West in Atlanta. LSU was 4th in scoring offense and they really didn't settle in on their QB Jordan Jefferson until the end of the season and he showed real sparks of being a great QB for this offense. The defense is what really caused LSU a lot of problems last year and I believe by adding John Chavis, who had the Volunteers last year as the #1 Total Defense and #3 Scoring Defense in the SEC Last year, should have this much more talented group of defenders playing up to LSU defensive expectations. I like Florida beating LSU in the championship game. Florida just has too much on paper and could be one of the best teams to play in the SEC in many years.

Matthew Presto, Assistant Sports Editor, The Hiller, Washington, PA

SEC East
Florida
Tennessee
Georgia
Kentucky
South Carolina
Vanderbilt
SEC West
Alabama
LSU
Ole Miss
Auburn
Arkansas
Mississippi St.

SEC Champion: Florida Gators

This year in the SEC, the only competitive side of the conference will be the East. I see Alabama running away with the SEC West title this year due to the fact that they are returning nine starters from their 3rd ranked defense in the nation. The loss of RB Glen Coffee will prevent them from going undefeated, but don’t expect this loss to stop the Crimson Tide from rolling to another SEC West title. On the other side of the conference, we have the defending national champions who return the former Heisman Trophy-winning QB Tim Tebow, along with defensive standout LB Brandon Spikes. The only teams I see contending are Tennessee and Georgia, but nobody including me are going to pick against Florida winning the SEC East. In the SEC title game, most likely we will see Florida being a repeat champion, and very well might go on to the BCS National Championship once again. Has Tim Tebow made the right decision coming back to the defending champions? Time will only tell when the 2009-2010 season unravels.

Alan Rouse, host of The Gridiron Breakdown
Well it can be said that the finest football in all of college is played in the SEC and that should hold true this year as well. The conference may not be as strong top to bottom this year as it has been in the past but the few teams at the top will definitely be in contention for a 3rd straight BCS Title for the SEC.

SEC East
Florida
South Carolina
Tennessee
Georgia
Kentucky
Vanderbilt
SEC West
Alabama
LSU
Ole Miss
Arkansas
Auburn
Mississippi State

SEC Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide

The Eastern Division is definitely due for a down year outside of Florida. Tennessee has a new loud mouth coach; George lost Moreno and Stafford; and then there is the rest. Florida will win the division easily the returning 22 starters from a National Championship team and looking for another run this year. Many preseason publications have them picked as preseason number 1 and I can’t argue with that. The only thing that might stop the Gators is if the injury bug strikes a certain “Man of Steel.” 

I see South Carolina finishing second in the division as they have great defense and if Steve Spurrier can find a QB they might be able to contend. All I can say about Tennessee is that Fulmer is gone and some new blood has been infused into the program. Tennessee has some talented players, but I don’t know how Lane Kiffin will turn out as a coach in the SEC. Georgia will struggle this year it’s just too hard to replace great players like they had last year. I don’t expect much from Kentucky except maybe a win over Vanderbilt who are returning to their place as the doormat in the division.

Alabama will win the West division. Some preseason publications have picked Ole Miss to win the division, but I don’t see that happening this year. Alabama will have a great defense and if it can get enough out of its stable of running backs and new QB Greg McElroy, they can go very far and maybe even contend for a national championship. LSU will finish second in the division with a stable of improved offensive players and a strong defense which should improve from last year.  Ole Miss will blow it this year. Houston Nutt has a lot of talent on this team, but he has a proven track record of overachieving with decent teams; he underachieves when he is expected to content. For reference see the years with future NFL running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones and Arkansas.
Year two of the Petrino era at Arkansas should show progress, but they won’t have anything for the top 3 in the division. This could be a rough year for Auburn and Mississippi State. Auburn has a tough road schedule and as their coach might find out this isn’t the Big 12. Mississippi Stat also breaks in a new coach and will keep their place at the bottom of the division at least for one or two more years.

I believe Alabama and Florida are the class of the conference and both have a shot to win the BCS Title. I pick Alabama to beat Florida in the SEC Championship. Alabama’s improved defense, strong running game, and another year under Nick Saban should propel the Crimson Tide towards a national championship run.

Robert Cooper, Life In the Cheap Seats.com

SEC East
Florida
South Carolina
Georgia
Tennessee
Vanderbilt
Kentucky

SEC West
LSU
Alabama
Auburn
Ole Miss
Arkansas
Mississippi State

SEC Champion: Florida Gators

In the SEC East, not only the 11 starters, but the entire 25 man depth chart returns for the Florida Gators on defense. Toss in a Heisman Trophy winning QB and 5 other offensive starters along with the hottest head coach in the nation and UF emerges as SEC East champions.

As for the SEC West, Ole Miss implodes from the lofty expectations that are as foreign to this program as moviegoers were to Land of the Lost. Alabama has an inexperienced offensive line and quarterback (but what should be a stingy defense), Auburn and Arkansas are a year away, Mississippi State and their new head coach have a lot of work to do, so LSU wins the West almost by default with 13 returning starters including the best running backs in the SEC despite games at Georgia and Alabama and Florida at home.

In the SEC Championship, the Gators may slip up during the regular season, but Urban Meyer gets his team ready when it counts. The Gators will dominate in Atlanta on their way to the BCS Championship Game and a big victory AGAIN. How early will ESPN start calling the 2009 Florida Gators the "Greatest Team Ever?"

So, there you have BC Sports look at the Southeastern Conference.

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About J. Newcastle

  • Mark

    i don’t think so!~!! the Bayou Tigers have as manageable a collector-solar com schedule a team can hope for the SEC. Alabama will be a strong second place team that is a year away from a serious run back to Atlanta