The time has come. We are five days away from the first kickoff of college football, which also happens to be SEC action. The SEC is undoubtfully the most dominant conference in the land by far, and will be a race to the finish in the SEC East, where every team has a chance to go bowling, even Vanderbilt, who will be greatly improved from last year. I want to go ahead and throw something out there. Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and even Kentucky all have at least minimal chances of winning the SEC East. I will try to stay away from homerism as much as I can, but please understand that I give credit where credit is due, and I honestly believe that Kentucky could be one of the best offenses in the nation this year. If the defense improves at all, then watch out.
Now, on with the preview of the most dominant conference in the nation: The SEC.
2007 SEC Conference Preview
Florida- There is so much hype going into the season about Tim Tebow and how he is going to lift this Florida team that lost nearly everything they had when they won the national championship last year back up to stardom. I don't believe any of it. Please note that this is the SEC. A quarterback that runs every other down won't get far before they either get hurt or they have to stop running because every defense has them figured out. Now, I don't think Florida will be a bad team, but I do feel that there are too many "ifs" and too many losses on this team from last season in order for them to make another BCS Bowl, or win the SEC for that matter. Tim Tebow had 5 passing touchdowns and 8 rushing touchdowns all of last season, coming in sometimes to replace star quarterback Chris Leak. Florida will have to rely on its offense, including Percy Harvin and some young players, because they lost nearly all of their starting defense, which held opponents to 13 points per game last season. I'm sorry, people, but I can't give Florida more than 9 wins at best. This is too tough of a conference, and they don't have the power they had last season. Also keep in mind that Georgia will have a very tough defense, LSU will have one of the best teams in the nation, Florida State is greatly improved, and Auburn will be a huge sleeper in the SEC, as well as South Carolina. Also, you can't look past the road trip to Kentucky. The Gators could be in some deep water.
Georgia- The Bulldogs little setback last year in the middle of the season in which they consecutively lost to Vanderbilt and Kentucky was due to, in my opinion, a defensive slump. Therefore, they shouldn't be having any more slumps this season, because they really stocked up on defensive players. True freshman, JuCos, you name it, they recruited it. I think that Georgia will be a strong contender in the SEC East. They have a great defensive squad, and should improve from giving up 17 points per game last season, although that's not too bad, either. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw for 7 touchdowns last season, although he didn't start the whole season, will be a good addition to the Georgia offense starting players. They should have a better team with him than with Shockley, in my opinion. I will give them possibly 9 wins, as well, but that's an improvement for this team. I think that that road game to Vanderbilt could be dangerous, and if anyone could tame this defense, it's Kentucky, but I'm not sure that will be a loss for them, either. However, look out for Tennessee, Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech, and Alabama.
Kentucky- Kentucky is coming off their 8-5, turn-around bowl season last year, and should be an even better team this year. What I don't understand is how a bunch of magazines and sites say that Kentucky has the best offense in the SEC, but then says that they will go 2-6 in the conference and 5-7 overall. I'm sorry, but I'm just not buying it. Heres the thing: Kentucky plays 10 games that they have a chance to win, and 8 home games! How can we only win 1 out of 8 home games?! They may be my team, but I HAVE to give them more credit than that. Plus, the defense will improve greatly under new defensive coordinator Steve Brown, and the progress has shown greatly through the offseason and scrimmages. Don't sleep on Kentucky, who will have the best chance of beating Louisville, Tennessee, and Florida that they've ever had. Andre Woodson threw for 31 touchdowns last season, along with over 3,500 yards! That's 8 more than Chris Leak threw for, and 600 yards more than he gained through the air. Woodson will be one of the best quarterbacks in the land. Raphael Little and Keenan Burton are one of the best runningbacks and wide-outs, respectively, in the SEC. Jacob Tamme is a consistent, all-SEC, tight end. The only negative thing anyone can say about this team is their defense, but look how they performed against Clemson. Trevard Lindey, Westley Woodyard, Micah Johnson, and the crew will improve, and could give Kentucky as many as 8 wins this season, and with some luck, maybe more.
South Carolina- Blake Mitchell and the Gamecocks will have an interesting year. They have a lot of offense, but not a lot of defense. South Carolina comes into the season highly touted, but I don't believe all of the hype. They will undoubtfully have a good season, but I don't think they have a serious chance of winning the SEC. There's just not enough there. I think that South Carolina will continue to improve throughout the season on both sides of the ball, but it won't be enough to win the SEC, and maybe not even to finish second. They have a very tough schedule, probably the toughest in the SEC, and Clemson can't be looked past, and none of the SEC teams can be looked past, and that's why I can't see South Carolina finishing better than 7-5. I think that Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida will do their damage on the darkhorse, which will be very good, but not good enough.
Tennessee- After the suspension of starting runningback LaMarcus Coker, all that's left for Tennessee is their passing game, which could be in trouble with an injury-prone quarterback like Ainge. The Vols will always have a good wide-receiving corps it seems, but the question is whether that and a defense just a little above average will be good enough to take on the rest of the SEC. My answer right now is "no." They had a tough time last year against some teams, most noteably Kentucky, at home. The score was 17-12, while Kentucky played their worst offensive game of the season besides the game against LSU. Therefore, now with the same team minus their starting runningback, what makes anyone think they can beat Kentucky of this year on the road? Or any other team for that matter. I think that Tennessee will have a mildly good season, but don't expect to see them in any BCS Title games or even in the SEC Championship game. I think that the Vols will have a lot of trouble trying to win the SEC East this season, but with a conference like this, who knows?
Vanderbilt- Let the turn-around begin! I think that Vanderbilt will finally become bowl-eligible this season, much due to the fact that Chris Nickson is a great rushing quarterback and a great passing one, as well. last season, Nickson rushed for 9 touchdowns, while he threw for 7, a good balance. He was also able to satisfy star receiver Earl Bennett and still run the ball. Pretty good, if you ask me. The Commodores will be underrated heading into the season, but can't be looked past. They came very close to beating Florida last season. Just imagine what they could do this season! Much like Kentucky, but not on the same level of offense, Vandy's defense is what will bother them all season long. The defense of the 'Dores last season allowed opponents to gain 24 points per game, way too many when you're trying to compete in the SEC. Vandy should finish right around .500 this season, and it'll be interesting to see how they do with a chance of going bowling. To do that, however, they need to take out Wake Forest and either Alabama, South Carolina, or Kentucky.
Alabama- Alabama won't finish 6-6 again, but I do think it will be very close to it. Alabama has a tough schedule, as do all of the SEC teams, and I don't think that they will be able to beat some of the better teams in the SEC East, and maybe some of the worse ones. I think that too many people are expecting Nick Saban to come in and be a savior for the program, but I wonder if they ever thought that it might just take him a year or so to do that. If you don't have the players, then you can't have a great team. I don't think they have enough talent right now to compete with the rest of the teams in the SEC for a title. It's as simple as that. I do, however, pick Bama to win the Iron Bowl, and go bowling this season. And who knows, give them a couple of years, and they could be right back in the title race.
Arkansas- Of course, the big story for Arkansas is their star runningback and Heisman favorite Darren McFadden, along with thier lesser, but still great back Felix Jones. I would say that that's not all of the story, but it really is. The Razorbacks will rely solely on thier running game to push them through the season and straight into another SEC title game. And why not? The running game last season picked up 230 yards per game, and McFadden had a team-high 14 touchdowns running the football, which also ranks pretty high up there on the national list. I think that Arkansas will be competing with LSU for the SEC West title once again, but I'm not so sure they can win it, this time. We'll see how it all unfolds, but LSU has way too much talent and depth for the Hogs to take it this year. Arkansas, though, will still be a great team and should have a chance to go BCS bowling this year, after losing to Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl last year. The good news for the Hogs, who had the worst offseason in the country, even if they don't win the West: Darren McFadden could be the first Razorback ever to win the Heisman.
Auburn- The senior version of Brandon Cox and this veteran Auburn team should be able to compete in the SEC rather nicely. In fact, they could compete with Arkansas and LSU for the SEC West title. Cox threw for 14 touchdowns last season, while the offense as a whole scored 25 points per game. Not bad, huh? Also, Tuberville has his team ready to go for this season, with a lot of veterans at each position. The wide receiving is looking good, as is the defense. I see no reason why the Tigers couldn't compete for the title and a BCS bowl bid. After all, they were the only team who defeated the national champion Florida Gators last year. This version of Auburn could be even better. I think that Auburn could win 10 or 11 games this seaon. Look out for the Tigers.
LSU- Of course, the big story here is that LSU lost their star quarterback JaMarcus Russel, who was basically the offense last season, especially in the blowout win vs. Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Keep in mind, though, that Matt Flynn was the quarterback responsible for that huge blowout of Miami in that bowl game a few years ago, in which Miami came in the favorite and was turned away by 40+ points. This guy has an arm. The defense will be one of the best in the nation, as well as the rest of the offense. All of this creates an equation for success, and LSU could go undefeated this year with that kind of team. The toughest test will come early in the season against Virginia Tech, which could set the course for the season, but regardless of that outcome, I think that the Tigers will be in position to win the SEC West this season.
Mississippi- Ole Miss has some work to do. I think that they should just look at this year as a rebuilding year. Of course, no one wants to do that, but it's not likely that they will get more than 2 wins in conference play, probably no more than one, and they don't have a chance of going bowling. They don't have enough offense, and definately not enough defense. While Ole Miss continues to get some players that could be useful in the coming years, they're just not ready for their breakout season just yet. Their time will come, but as for this season, I can't see more than 3 or 4 wins. Sorry Rebels, but unless something miraculous happens, I don't think you'll be going very far, other than being the 2007 Egg Bowl champs!
Miss St.- Similar to their cross-state rival, the Bulldogs don't have any business being in the SEC at this point. They are at the very deepest level of the cellar at this point. The only way to escape would be to drop out of the season now. I don't want to be too harsh, but this team has nothing to compete with. No fire power, no offensive weapons, and certainly no defense. Maybe if this were any other conference, a few conference wins would be very possible, but this isn't just any other conference. This is the one team that the toughest conference in the nation is ashamed of. The one team that can't get a conference win. The Duke of the SEC, only on different levels. Good luck, Bulldogs, but you may have the same number in the win column as you did when you started the season. Here's some advice: Don't give up 26 points a game while only scoring 18. Switch these numbers, and we'll talk.
2007 SEC Projected Standings
Team W/L (conf.)
- Georgia 10-2 (6-2)
- Florida 9-3 (6-2)
- Tennesse 8-4 (5-3)
- Kentucky 8-4 (4-4)
- South Carolina 7-5 (3-5)
- Vanderbilt 6-6 (2-6)
Team W/L (conf.)
- LSU 11-1 (8-0)
- Auburn 10-2 (6-2)
- Arkansas 10-2 (6-2)
- Alabama 7-5 (3-5)
- Ole Miss 4-8 (1-7)
- Mississippi St. 2-10 (0-8)
That's all, folks. Please leave plenty of comments and tell me what you think. Remember, this is just my opinion. I'm sorry if you thought I was being too homerish, but I hope that you trust me to be as fair as possible. Thank you for sticking with me threw this entire conference preview. I look forward to this season. It should be a great one, and I'll try to keep blogging about it. I don't know about you, but I know where I'll be Thursday night, and also Saturday evening.
I can't wait to hear:
It's football time in the Bluegrassssssss......!!!