SEC Preview

Projected Records & Standings

East Division
1. FLORIDA             11-1  (7-1)
2. GEORGIA 9-3 (5-3)
3. TENNESSEE 8-4 (4-4)
4. SOUTH CAROLINA 6-6 (3-5)
5. VANDERBILT 5-7 (2-6)
6. KENTUCKY 6-6 (2-6)
West Division
1. ALABAMA             10-2  (7-1)
2. LSU 10-2 (6-2)
3. OLE MISS 9-3 (5-3)
4. ARKANSAS 7-5 (4-4)
5. AUBURN 6-6 (3-5)

East Champion: FLORIDA
Big shocker here. Everyone and their mothers are picking Florida to win not only the SEC East, but the national championship as well. The Gators return the bulk of a championship roster, so another SEC crown and run at the national title is not out of the question. HOWEVER, I will go out on a limb and guarantee Urban Meyer and company will lose at least once this season, possibly at LSU on October 10th.

West Champion: ALABAMA
Nick Saban quickly put his stamp on the Alabama program, which paid big dividends in 2008. The Crimson Tide’s calling card was their toughness and line play en route to a near-flawless first three months of the season. The Tide have a lot of turnover on offense this year, but if Star Jackson wins the quarterback job they could be more explosive. Even if Alabama doesn’t improve offensively, the defense should be good enough to carry the team to at least 9 wins.

Question the Hype: OLE MISS
Whoa, people. Let’s slow down on putting Ole Miss in the top 5 already. I like Houston Nutt and I like his team heading into the season, but the Rebels play in the best division in college football. Nutt is only in his second year. He picked up a couple of nice wins in 2008, and there will be more big wins over the course of his tenure in Oxford, but to leapfrog Alabama and LSU during a season in which Arkansas is poised to make a jump in the standings as well just doesn’t seem realistic to me. Not yet at least.

Could Surprise: TENNESSEE
Lane Kiffin made more enemies in his first three months on the job than most coaches make their entire careers. Most opposing SEC fans are rooting for the Vols to go 0-12 in his rookie season – along with probably the majority of opposing SEC coaches. But Kiffin has two secret weapons in his father Monte and superstar safety Eric Berry. Berry is a rare talent that will anchor what should be at the very least a solid defense.

Offensively, the Vols have an actual direction for a change after converting from running team to passing team to spread offense and back again seemingly by the series over the last several seasons. That means Tennessee will be a more stable team than they have been recently, a strange fact considering the program is in a state of turnover due to the coaching change.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
WR-Julio Jones, Alabama
QB-Tim Tebow, Florida
OT-Ciron Black, LSU

Ten to Watch:
WR-A.J. Green, Georgia
OG-Mike Johnson, Alabama
WR-Brandon LaFell, LSU
WR-Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss
RB-Chris Rainey/Jeff Demps, Florida
RB-Charles Scott, LSU
RB-Alphonso Smith, Kentucky
RB-Michael Smith, Arkansas
QB-Jevan Snead, Ole Miss
TE-D.J. Williams, Arkansas

Herzlich Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
SS-Eric Berry, Tennessee
LB-Brandon Spikes, Florida
DT-Terrence Cody, Alabama

Fifteen to Watch:
DE-Rahim Alem, LSU
FS-Ahmad Black, Florida
DE-Antonio Coleman, Auburn
LB-Rennie Curran, Georgia
DE-Jermaine Cunningham, Florida
CB-Joe Haden, Florida
DE-Greg Hardy, Ole Miss
CB-Myron Lewis, Vanderbilt
CB-Trevard Lindley, Kentucky
LB-Rolando McClain, Alabama
CB-Walter McFadden, Auburn
LB-Eric Norwood, South Carolina
DT-Jeff Owens, Georgia
CB-Patrick Peterson, LSU
DT-Malcolm Sheppard, Arkansas

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