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 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.