2013 SEC Conference Preview
Saving the best for last. Nick Saban and Alabama became the first teams to repeat under the BCS. They will gun for 3 in a row in 2013. Let's see how things break down.
1. GEORGIA - Putting the Bulldogs here with a slight nod over South Carolina. The defense won't be as rugged, but the offense is more than capable of picking up the slack. With 10 starters back this unit should provide plenty of points.
2. SOUTH CAROLINA - Jadevon Clowney. That is all you need to know about this defense. The guy is unbelievable. My problem is that the run game has to replace Lattimore and I don't like a 2 QB system. We find out nice and early (Sept. 7) who will rule the roost here in the East as the Gamecocks travel to Georgia.
3. FLORIDA - The proverbial Year 3 for Will Muschamp. I see some people thinking that the Gators can contend for the top spot here. I just can't see that happening. The defense returns just 3 starters. I think that he will still have a solid defense, but with road games at Miami Florida, LSU and South Carolina, it is going to be difficult to win the SEC East.
4. VANDERBILT - Vandy brings back 14 total starters. Most places, that is a nice foundation. But when you are playing with Georgia, SC and Florida, and you aren't a football factory, that won't cut it. This team can sneak into a bowl.
5. MISSOURI - These guys are my bounce back team. Lots of injuries last year. Gary Pinkel is entering his 13th year. He knows he can't have the injury bug that hit both sides of the ball last year. 14 returning starters should help the cause.
6. TENNESSEE - New HC for the Vols and Butch Jones takes over for the failed Derek Dooley era. He will be bringing in an entirely new scheme of things. With b2b road games at Oregon and Florida then another trip to Alabama. Plus Georgia and South Carolina at home. These guys will be hard pressed to reach a bowl.
7. KENTUCKY - Mark Stoops takes over the reigns as he replaces Joker Phillips. Not a joke to Kentucky faithful who had to sit through a 2-10 season, 0-8 in SEC play. These guys have a way to go to be competitive, but I think they can beat last years win total.
1. ALABAMA - B2B Champs. What is there to say? The guys don't rebuild, they reload. The real amazing thing is that Bama has won only 2 SEC titles since 2000. QB AJ McCarron is 25-2 as a starter. As good as these guys are though, I don't think they win 3 in a row.
2. LSU - All Les Miles does is win games. Why does it seem like he is 10-2 every year. This team has 8 offensive and 4 defensive starters returning. They also played 28 freshman last year. Another team that just reloads at positions. I will grab the steady play of LSU over the #3 flavor of the month.
3. TEXAS A&M - Oh the Johnny Football show. HC Kevin Sumlin hit the lottery last year with the play of eventual Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. But this kid has train wreck written all over him. We won't get into his off-season non-sense. But my clients already have been locked in on Rice +28. Where else can these guys go but down? 11-2 last year with a pair of tough home losses. They get Bama home and LSU on the road. But I think someone will pick them off in between regardless.
4. MISSISSIPPI - Loads of talent back as they return 8 starters on offense and another 11 on defense. They draw a tough schedule. At Texas and Bama, home vs Texas A&M and LSU. Each set in B2B situations. They are excited in Oxford as Hugh Freeze seems to have the Rebels back on track.
5. MISSISSIPPI STATE - Bulldogs reeled off 7 straight before dropping 5 of 6 to end the year. QB Tyler Russell is back and the 5th year SR. will really have to make things happen as MSU loses its top 4 WRs. The OL is deep and the run game should be solid. Questions on defense though will make it tough to head to another bowl this season.
6. ARKANSAS - Old Wisconsin HC Brett Bielema comes to town to take over for John L Smith. What a debacle after the Bobby Petrino situation. He did a great job in the Big 10 posting a 68-24 record with the Badgers. But in SEC country, it will take him awhile to get his house in order. He gets a pass his first year as he builds with is players.
7. AUBURN - Was it really just 2 years ago the Tigers went 14-0 and won the National Championship? Well 14-0 to 3-9 apparently gets you shown the door. New HC Gus Malzahn takes over and hopes to bring his Arkansas State offensive show to Jordan-Hare Stadium. There is some experience on the roster as 8 starters are back on both sides of the ball. It's going to be a tough year.