I thought I'd preview the upcoming college football season by having about an eight part series on the six major conferences and the best of the rest. I'll try to do two of these previews per week and I'll start with the nation's best conference, the Southeastern Conference.
Conference Overview: Like I mentioned earlier, the SEC is the NCAA's best conference. Not only are the team's at the top title contenders, the worst teams are the best of the worst. LSU leads the pack with Florida, Arkansas, and Auburn just trailing them in the SEC race. The Tigers (LSU, that is) has the best defense while Arkansas has the best offense. Mississippi State is the weakest team in the conference and Sylvester Croom's job will be vacant at years end. I've done research on the teams and predicted their records to determine a conference champion.
1) Florida Gators (10-2): Florida is still a very good team, but I'm not buying into the hype that Tim Tebow is going to be the greastest college QB ever. I feel this team is a little overrated and I expect them to lose to Auburn and LSU back-to-back. The defense good, but I see a lack of depth on both sides of the ball.
2) Georgia Bulldogs (9-3): I see the 'Dawgs three losses coming to Auburn, Florida, and Kentucky after starting 7-0. Matt Stafford is a good game manager, but not a game changer at the QB position. The defense should have a set back with the loss of Quentin Moses.
3) Tennessee Volunteers (9-3): The Vols losses come against Florida, Kentucky, and Georgia. Erik Ainge is a good QB, but he lost his top reciever in Robet Meachem. Lamarcus Coker is a game changing tail back and Phil Fulmer has established Tennessee as a legit power once again.
4) Kentucky Wildcats (8-4): Kentucky is the league's dark horse. They have Andre Woodson at QB, the league's best at that position. They will lose to Florida, LSU, Arkansas, and Louisville (the only game Kentucky wont' have the better QB in as the Cardinals have Brian Brohm).
5) South Carolina Gamecocks (6-6): Steve Spurrier will continue to find out how tough the SEC has gotten since he left Florida. Blake Mitchell is a decent QB and Jasper Brinkley is a good LB, but SC will still fall to Georgia, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
6) Vanderbilt Commodores (5-7): In any other conference, Vandy would be bowl eligible. Jonathan Goff is probably the SEC's best linebacker, but the Commodores will get swept by their SEC East counterparts and will also lose to Alabama and Auburn.
1) LSU Tigers (12-0): The Tigers have a very easy schedule because Auburn, Florida, and Tennessee are all headed to Baton Rouge. LSU's defense is going to be the best in the country and Matt Flynn is a more versatile QB than JaMarcus Russell was. Hello BCS National Championship Game!
2) Auburn Tigers (11-1): Auburn has a relatively easy schedule except for their trip to LSU. They'll drop that game, but win out from there. Brad Lester and Ben Tate make up a very good running back tandem and Brandon Cox is finally healthy at QB.
3) Arkansas Razorbacks (9-3): The Hogs have the country's best player in Darren McFadden. Felix Jones could be a starter on any other team in the SEC and Marcus Monk is a very good wide reciever, but the defense is going to allow a lot of points. They'll lose to LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee.
4) Alabama Crimson Tide (6-6): Nick Saban will find a very different SEC than when he left it three years ago. John Parker Wilson is a good QB, but the team lacks depth. DJ Hall is a good reciever, but the defense has holes and Bama will lose to Auburn, LSU, Tenn, Florida St., Arkansas, and Georgia.
5) Ole Miss Rebels (6-6): Ole Miss is a good team, but will fall victim to the SEC's powers. They'll lose to Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is one of the conference's best runningbacks and the Rebels are on the right track to competing once again.
6) Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-9): Miss. State is the only easy out in the Southeastern Conference. This should sum up for the Bulldogs: they'll beat UAB, Tulane, and Gardner Webb while losing out in the SEC and losing to West Virginia. Sylvester Croom will be unemployed at the end of the season.
Number of Bowl Eligible Teams: 10
Bowl Bids: 9; Ole Miss misses out on post season play.
BCS Bids: 2; LSU (BCS National Championship Game) and Auburn (Sugar Bowl).
Key Matchups and Rivalries
Auburn 27, Alabama 14
Ole Miss 34, Mississippi State 10
LSU 28, Arkansas 10
LSU 17, Auburn 9
Florida 28, Tennessee 17
Florida 31, Georgia 28
SEC Championship Game
LSU 20, Florida 10