We begin where we ended last year, with the Florida Gators dismantling the Ohio State Buckeyes to win the Alleged National Championship.* No matter how tired people are of hearing it, the SEC is the best conference in the country and it will be until I say they're not. As good as I expect the Pac-10 to be this year – and they will be excellent — they are no match for the SEC even if USC wins it all.
So, who's going to win the SEC?
The smart money has to be on LSU. Preseason polls are stupid but that doesn't mean they're always wrong. USC and LSU are currently picked #1 and #2 respectively and with good reason. They embarrassed an obviously overmatched Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, nettiing them almost as many headlines as the alleged champs at season's end.
The Tigers' 2007 schedule sets up favorably with their most difficult games at home. Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide is the most difficult road game they will play and it's debatable how good Bama will actually be. Games against Virginia Tech, Auburn, Arkansas, and Floria will all be played in Baton Rouge.
So, what's the problem? LSU sent four players to the NFL in the first round and lost their offensive coordinator to Florida State. The secondary lost some star power but their defensive front could be fabulous. If Les Miles' coaching staff can get the best out of what might be the most talent-deep team in the country, LSU will be playing for a title.
Georgia struggled last year — something they haven't done a lot of under Mark Richt – but are poised to make noise in the SEC East. They're replacing most of their offensive line this year but early reports are indicate they have found a starting five that is working well together. If they have, lookout for sophomore Matthew Stafford. He had a tough time adjusting to the SEC as a true freshman but has all the makings of a great one. If LSU doesn't win it, the Bulldogs could be poised for big things.
One team to watch from the outside of the pack is Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks. The other USC could be dangerous if they can get their QB to go to class, keep guns out of the hands of their safeties, and replace the interior of their line. They'll also need to get some big plays out of the receiver position, a position Spurrier recruited very well coming into this year. Their schedule is brutal, but this is a good team with an excellent defense and one of the great minds in the game.