Porkins: Welcome back to the CFFG College Gameday show, brought to you by Sports Illustrated and Jumper, starring Hayden Christenson. Isn't product placement on FN awesome? As always I'm here with Lakers.
Porkins: That's right- with summer workouts in full swing and the season right around the corner, it's time to start taking an in-depth look at the power conferences around the country. And where better to start that the home of the last two National Champions. Just as in 2006 and 2007, the SEC looks stacked heading into the fall with several teams that will likely contend for BCS berths.
Lakers: I couldn't agree more with you Porkins, the SEC is the best Conference and a great place to start our conference previews.
Lakers: LSU even with some key losses are still going to be one of the best teams in the SEC...but watch out for the Tide.
Porkins: Good points. I think Les Miles has done a great job in establishing the Tigers as the team to beat, but losing Pelini to Nebraska and losing some key talent to the NFL means that he's got some work ahead of him. The team has the fewest returning starters of any team in the SEC. Can the coaching staff hold it together?
Lakers: I think a lot depends on the QB situation. The loss of Ryan Perilloux is tough, but I think LSU will be fine. Now the team that could take the West away from LSU is Auburn. Can Tuberville lead the Tigers to the West Crown?
Lakers: What I am hearing out of Auburn is Kodi Burns is the starter as of now and he fits there new Spread Offense, but watch out Chris Todd who could take the starting job from Burns. Auburn is weak in some key areas and that could cost them the West.
Porkins: I think there are too many unanswered questions. I expect great things from the d-line and linebacking crew, but otherwise I'm not convinced Auburn has enough to compete for the West. My question is, can they hold off arch rival Alabama and finish second again? Speaking of the Tide, what does Saban have in store for us in Tuscaloosa?
Lakers: After bringing in arguably the top recruiting class in the nation, Alabama is on the rise. But this season may not reflect it, with Alabama's tough schedule.
Porkins: Here's where we see if Saban can earn his big contract. He has some tremendous recruits coming in, like WR Julio Jones. But with fewer returning starters than his competition, can he improve on last year's 4-4 conference mark?
Porkins: With the departure of its star RBs, Arkansas is looking at a rebuilding year. New coach, new faces at some key positions...Petrino is going to have to be patient in his efforts in Fayetteville. They'll do well to match their 4-4 conference mark from last year. What's your take?
Lakers: I think it's going to be a tough year in Fayettville. I think Petrino will do well with Arkansas but his first year is going to be a tough one. I see Arkansas around 6-6.
Lakers: I think Miss. State has a really good team, they were able to knock off Alabama and Auburn last year. I don't see them beating either this year, but I think another bowl bid is in store for Croom.
Porkins: Personally, I think 2007 was a bit of good luck. The team is still adapting to Croom's offensive style, and there's not much depth on this team. I think the recent focus on rebuilding the defense is going to show some dividends this year, but not nearly enough to keep them in contention.
Porkins: Nutt is going to good for what ails Oxford, but let's face it- this team needs a lot of help. I don't think they're climbing out of the basement this year. With a new coach coming in and plenty of weaknesses that need to be addressed, the Rebels should simply focus on not going winless in the SEC...again.
Lakers: I think Ole Miss is going to rise in the SEC soon, but not this year. This will be a tough year for the Rebels I think they will sneak 1 or 2 conference wins out of there though. I think the final standings in the SEC will be a bit of a suprise. I like Alabama to take the West, then LSU, Auburn, Miss. State, Arkansas, and Ole Miss.
Porkins: Overall, this division is going to be very tight- like last year, I think we'll see a lot of teams with conference records around .500. LSU will be weaker, but they still have enough to take the division. I think Alabama will sneak into second, then Auburn, Arkansas, MSU, and Ole Miss.
Porkins: With Stafford back again, and Knowshon Moreno likely to improve on his '07 success, the Dawgs backfield is going to be scary. Their first string includes 17 returning starters putting this team atop the SEC East in most pre-season polls. The big question will be line play. With a lot of young guys in the trenches, it'll all come down to blocking.
Lakers: Georgia is one of my favorites to win the National Title not just the conference. Moreno is a beast and the Dawgs look like the team to beat in College Football this season.
Porkins: Let's talk about the other favorite...How about Florida? They were behind Tennessee last year, but many are expecting them to contend this year. Can they threaten Georgia for the division?
Lakers: I think they can definitely contend with Georgia for the division. They have the Heisman Trophy Winner at QB, and the most feared reciever in the SEC Percy Harvin. Florida can compete with anyone in the nation.
Porkins: I think that offensively, the Gators can compete with anyone. I expect Meyer to feature a more balanced game plan this season to take some pressure off of Tebow, who returns with a shiny Heisman Trophy and a huge bullseye on his back. Speedster Percy Harvin and tailback Emmanuel Moody are out to prove that Florida is the real team to beat in the SEC.
Lakers: I think the division could very well come down to the November 1st matchup between Florida and Georia, and what a game that will be.
Porkins: Even though the Gators secondary has improved, I'm not sure they're ready. It should be a tight divisional race though. Speaking of which, what about the defending divisional champs?
Porkins: I agree. While they aren't being mentioned as a favorite in 2008, The Vols are tied for the most returning starters of any SEC team. I've got to believe that the experience will help them. And bringing in new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson was a good move, but I still need to be convinced he can take over for the departed David Cutcliffe. Either way, I think the Vols' defense keeps them in the middle of things this year.
Lakers: Personally though, I think Tennessee is going to have a rough year and could finish as low as 4th in the East. Now it's on to the Ol' Ball Coach and South Carolina
Porkins: South Carolina- this might be the sleeper team in the conference, and I really expect them to improve from last year. They're tied with Tennessee for the most returning starters which gives the Old Ball Coach some veteran leadership. I know we've said that before, but I think Spurrier might put things together this year.
Lakers: I agree South Carolina is the sleeper team in the East. Spurrier has had time to put things together , and they looked promising last season with a 6-1 start until they lost 5 in a row. That won't happen again under Spurrier's watch.
Lakers: I couldn't agree with you more Kentucky is going to go through a rough year and I can't see them making a bowl game this season.
Lakers: I see them getting out of last this season. They will overtake Kentucky this year and finish 5th. Chris Nickson is a dual threat QB and is very dangerous. I like Vanderbilt to climb out of the cellar.
Porkins: So...predictions for final standings?
Lakers: I like Georgia of course in the East. This is Mark Richt's time and he has earned it. Then I like Florida, South Carolina sneaking into third, then Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky.
Porkins: I'll go with the popular favorite Georgia to take the East. Richt has proven himself, and I think they finally have enough to beat the Gators and the Vols. Florida is stacked though, and they'll be a close second followed by Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Vandy. Sorry Commodores. Finally, who do you like in the SEC Championship?
Lakers: I like the big suprise team Alabama making it to the title game only to once again lose to Georgia just like they did earlier in the year.
Porkins: Les Miles had a great run last year, but in 2008 I think the strength is in the East. And I expect LSU to fall to Georgia in the title game.
Lakers: The SEC is alway a tough conference to pick, so many good teams, and there are always sleeper teams waiting around. That is what makes it such a great conference. But thanks for joining us for our 2nd edition of Gamday.
Porkins: Thanks, and good-bye FN. Next week we'll bring you our thoughts on the Big Ten.