Predicted 2011 Record: 10-2. Arkansas has a fairly favorable schedule and should put up a ton of points. However, there’s enough defense in the league and on their schedule to probably trip them up a couple of times. So, the Hogs will need some defense of their own if they hope to make plans for Atlanta.
LSU – 2010 Record: 11-2. 15; 8 offense, 7 defense.
Reasons to Believe: LSU won 11 games with virtually no offensive plan last year. So, having a guy like Steve Kragthorpe around to tutor the quarterbacks and at least help architect an attack should show some signs of improvement. LSU is also one of three teams in the SEC loaded nearly three-deep at every position.
Reasons to Doubt: LSU lost some leaders on defense and will have to hope somewhere in all that depth are some new ones. They also have to be much more consistent on offense than they were last year. They’ve also got a really stout out of conference schedule to go along with the regular SEC run.
Predicted 2011 Record: 9-3. LSU will be a solid team but there’s just too much good competition for them to win the West this year. However, Les Miles is by far the luckiest coach in America, so anything is possible.
Alabama – 2010 Record: 10-3. Returning Starters: 16; 7 offense, 9 defense.
Reasons to Believe: It has tons of defense returning including a deep, talented linebacker corps. Alabama’s also great at the safety position, and the corners are highly touted. The offensive line is also strong and RB Trent Richardson has shown signs of brilliance and will be counted on to carry the load on offense, especially early in the season.
Reasons to Doubt: Inexperience at quarterback will be exacerbated by the fact that the top playmaker at WR is also gone. The last time the Crimson Tide broke in a new signal caller, they won it all, but he had a lot of help around him. Whoever gets the nod this year will have to grow up quickly.
Opposing defenses are going to load the box so the development of a consistent passing threat is paramount. Also, the defensive line is largely unknown. For Alabama’s LBs to do their thing, they need a big force up front to emerge.