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2012 SEC Preview: Team by Team Analysis

2012 SEC Preview: Team by Team Analysis

The Saturday Edge participated in a 2012 SEC preview with the guys over at College Football Zealots. Below are some of my additional thoughts on the SEC race this year along with my predicted order of finish for each team.

Long live the king. The SEC is going for their 7th straight BCS National Championship. I think this year may be the toughest, for multiple reasons. The biggest being there could be two undefeated major conference teams outside of the SEC.

That doesn’t change much in the South. They’ve been the best, and just got bigger adding Missouri and Texas A&M.  Week to week the SEC will provide great football, along with many surprises and upsets.

I am going to attempt to layout the season, team-by-team, and predict how things wind up, where the upsets are, and who takes home the trophy at the end of the season.

Lets start with the West, as we can all agree they have been deserving of the respect.

SEC West

Alabama

Defending national champions. Best coach in the land. Returning QB. Unreal recruiting class year after year. Sounds good enough right? It should be. Tide fans have reason to be excited for this season. McCarron is a year older.  The question mark is how well does the defense reload? If they can’t be last years defense, can they score enough on offense to carry their hopes and dreams?

Schedule Breakdown

Out of Conference:

Michigan: Win
WKU: Win
FAU: Win
W Carolina: Win

SEC:

at Arkansas: Decider
Ole Miss: Win
at Missouri: Win
at Tennessee: Win
Mississippi St: Win
at LSU: Decider
Texas A&M: Win
Auburn: Win

Analysis

I see there being 2 “decider” games for the Tide, and Michigan will not be one of them. I think they put the Big 10 in their place.  Their 2 big games are at Arkansas and at LSU. Arkansas is tougher than most people realize. LSU is LSU and could go either way. At the end of the day, they will be standing atop the SEC West, but will they be alone?

Final Record:

11-1

Arkansas

It’s tough to be Arkansas this year. Not getting much love when you have teams such as Bama, LSU, Georgia, SC, Florida, etc. in your conference. Your coach is buzzin’ around with mistresses on a motorcycle in the off-season, and a new coach is in now place.  Tyler Wilson will be good, but I don’t think he is the best QB in the conference. If Arkansas can muster up a defense, they may have a respectable season.

Schedule Breakdown

SEC Football - Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson

Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson

Out of Conference:

Jax St: Please
ULM: See Above
Rutgers: Win
Tulsa: Win

SEC:

Bama: Decider
Texas A&M: Win
at Auburn: Win
Kentucky: Win
Ole Miss: Win
at SC: Decider
at Miss St: Win
LSU: Decider

Analysis

It’s a shame that Arky has to play Bama, Auburn, SC, and LSU in one season. They have a solid team this year, probably one of the top 5 teams in the nation, talent and experience wise. Three games will be decisive: Bama, SC, LSU. I think best case they win 2 out of 3. One you pour some out for Arkansas and the fact that they have to play Bama and LSU, you realize that they are at least fortunate enough to play them at home. If they can stay healthy, I think that they can steal one if these games. I just don’t think that a team can take all three of those games, with playing other SEC teams, including SC.

Final Record:

9-3

Auburn

Do you see Cam Newton coming back to Auburn? No. Auburn will be good, but I think they are still a season or more away from the next National Championship run. The QB Frazier has been running Malzahn’s offense since he was conceived (actually since 8th grade). He should win the starting job, but not sure if experience of the offense is enough. Auburn has 2 new coordinators in place trying to set their precedence and  a star RB that has flaked out. They will have an up and down season.

Schedule Analysis

Out of Conference:

Clemson: Decider
ULM: Win
New Mexico St: Win
Bama A&M: Win

SEC:

at Miss St: Win
LSU: Loss
Arkansas: Decider
at Ole Miss: Win
at Vandy: Win
Texas A&M: Win
Georgia: Loss
at Bama: Loss

Analysis

Best case, I think Auburn has a 9-3 season. They can’t get past LSU, Bama, nor Georgia in my opinion. They won’t be powerful enough. Clemson will set the pace on the season and Arky will be a decisive game on how the rest of their record and season will end up.

Final Record:

8-4

LSU

How scary is it that the Tigers have the potential to be better than they were last year? They have a QB that can actually throw the ball. They have a 3-tier RB duo that can give them whatever type of run game they need. They have Les Miles. They got it all. The question mark is the defense. It will be strong no doubt, but can they replace some of their secondary issues? We’ll see.

Schedule Analysis

Out of Conference:

N Texas: boring
Washington: zzzzzzz
Idaho: potato
Towson: good one

SEC:

at Auburn: Win
at Florida: Decider
South Carolina: Win
at Texas A&M: Win
Alabama: Decider
Mississippi St: Win
Ole Miss: Win
at Arkansas: Win

SEC FootballAnalysis

No doubt about it, LSU will be dangerous this year. I would not be shocked to see Florida or SC give them a loss this year. Florida, at the Swamp, with an extremely talented defense is my guess on where it comes from. They should finish the year with 1 loss, possibly 2, making the SEC championship contender from the west coming down to the winner of their showdown against Bama, as usual.

Final Record:

11-1

Mississippi State

Somewhat of a breakout season last year, Mississippi State looks to improve upon how things ended up last year. A heavily recruited and touted QB out of God’s Country, with nearly every receiver returning, The offense should be able to move the ball, and frankly, that is their only hope. They could have a good year, if they can stop teams from passing all over them.

Schedule Analysis

Out of Conference:

Jax St: Jeez they play a lot of SEC teams huh?
Troy: Win
S. Bama: Win
Middle Tenn: Win

SEC:

Auburn: Decider
at UK: Win
Tenn: Decider
at Bama: Loss
Texas A&M: Decider
at LSU: Loss
Arkansas: Loss
at Ole Miss: Decider

Analysis

There is just so much up in the air with this team. I almost feel bad they have to play the SEC West schedule.  If it weren’t for Ole Miss, St would not have a win against a SEC W opponent. Auburn at home could be a close one. Auburn is more talented but St is gritty as hell. Tennessee will be good this year, and will give them a run for their money.  A&M could be burnt out by this point after playing Florida, Arky, LSU and Auburn. And St always plays Ole Miss close (besides last year).

Final Record:

6-6

Ole Miss

Lets face it. Hugh Freeze needs to resemble Coach Eric Taylor: East Dillon High School style (Friday Night Lights…c’mon) for Ole Miss to turn it around. Ole Miss holds a close spot to me, but I try and see them as clear as what they are. I’ll be at a few of their games this year, and I for once hope that they will be respectable. Don’t know if it will be this season.

Unproven QB, Unproven WR, Unproven Def. Jeff Scott is about all they got right now. New coach Hugh Freeze has the respect of the players, and they are going to run a fast, no huddle offense. In the SEC, you have to have an edge, and they will try to become the Oregon or Okla State of the SEC.  Good luck.

Schedule Analysis

SEC Football - Ole Miss RB Jeff Scott

Ole Miss RB Jeff Scott

Out of Conference:

Central Ark: Win
UTEP: Win
Texas: Loss
Tulane: Win

SEC:

at Bama: Loss
Texas A&M: Decider
Auburn: Loss
at Arkansas: Loss
at Georgia: Loss
Vandy: Decider
at LSU: Loss
Miss St: Decider

Analysis

I think Hugh Freeze will be good for the Rebels. It will take a few years, but he should turn them around and at least make them competitive. I think Ole Miss has high hopes should be making it to a bowl game this year, and that means beating some of their SEC Divisional foes. I can see it happening once, maybe twice, but not 3 times.

Final Record:

4-8

Texas A&M

Welcome to the SEC. Why on earth would you want to play against this conference? I don’t know. A&M returns a bunch of key components from last years successful run, which should give them hope stepping into the fire. Their offense will not be their question mark. Good line, good skill players, they should be able to average around 24ish in the SEC a game. Can the defense hold?

Schedule Analysis

Out of Conference:

LA Tech: Win (close)
SC St: Win
SMU: Win
Sam Houston: Win

SEC:

Florida: Loss
Arkansas: Loss
at Ole Miss: Win
LSU: Loss
at Auburn: Decider
at Miss St: Win
at Bama: Loss
Missouri: Decider

Analysis

In the end, there are just a few too many depth question marks for A&M to make a statement. On paper they should look decent, but I think there are a very obvious losses and possibly some upsets on this schedule.  Week to week, they should contend and make things interesting.

Final Record:

7-5

SEC West Analysis

Bama: 11-1
LSU: 11-1
Arkansas: 9-3
Auburn: 8-4
A&M: 7-5
Miss St: 6-6
Ole Miss: 4-8

I think this conference is once again going to come down to the Tide and the Tigers. Whichever one wins their head to head match up I believe will be the contenders for the national title, and I believe the favorite in the SEC championship game.

 

SEC East

Florida

This team is my biggest sleeper in not only the SEC east, but also the nation. They return 10 of 11 defenders from a defense that was already one of the best in the nation. This team is really, really deep. They have their RB returning, as well as their star return man Debose and kicker.  Their question mark becomes the QB position, where two sophomores have been battling it out. Both were heavily touted coming out of high school and both should be much better this season.

Schedule Analysis

SEC Football - Florida HC Will Muschamp

Florida HC Will Muschamp

Out of Conference:

BGSU: Win
Louisiana: Win
Jax St: Seriously? They play another SEC team?
FSU: Decider

SEC:

at A&M: Win
at Tennessee: Win
Kentucky: Win
LSU: Decider
at Vandy: Win
South Carolina: Win
Georgia: Decider
Missouri: Win

Analysis

This team definitely does not have an easy path. They way I see it, they go into their game against FSU with one loss. I think they will stun LSU in the swamp, and have a shot to knock off Georgia in a neutral site game. If they can pull off 2 of the 3 decider games and stave off the rest of their schedule, you will see them playing in the SEC title game for a ticket to the big stage.

Final Record:

10-2

Georgia

Those of you that read my article on the Georgia future bet know how I feel about Georgia’s chances this year. This is their year, the schedule aligns, and they have a veteran QB leading the way. If they can get through the games when they have some players suspended, it shouldn’t be a bad ride for the Bulldogs.

Schedule Analysis

Out of Conference

Buffalo: Win
FAU: Win
Ga Southern: Win
Ga Tech: Win

SEC

at Mizzou: Win
Vandy: Win
Tennessee: Win
at SC: Decider
at Kentucky: Win
Florida: Decider
Ole Miss: Win
at Auburn: Win

Analysis

I think it comes down to two tough games for the Bulldogs: the Gamecocks and against the Gators. Winning both of these gives them a bid to the SEC Title game and most likely the opportunity to play for the BCS title. Everything is in place, can Georgia finally take advantage or will the flop like usual?

Final Record

12-0

Kentucky

If there is one team other than Ole Miss that I feel terrible for, it’s Kentucky. Man do they have it rough. Not only are they not a good team in the SEC, they aren’t even the best team in their state (and there are not many teams in Kentucky). They see to have some answers under center in Max Smith, but it doesn’t help when most of your O line is gone. Defense has a ton up in the air as well.

Schedule Analysis

Out of Conference:

Louisville: Loss
KSU: Win
WKU: Win
Samford: Win

SEC

at Florida: Loss
SC: Loss
Miss St: Loss
at Arky: Loss
Georgia: Loss
Missouri: Loss
Vandy: Decider
at Tenn: Decider

Analysis

Even though there are a few SEC games I believe the cats can put up a fight in, I don’t see them making a bowl. They play a pretty brutal schedule, and it’s never good when some of the out of conference games could be toss-ups. Who fears the brow now?

Final Record

3-9

Missouri

New to the SEC this year, they are coming off a solid season and look to make waves in the big show.  QB Franklin came across an injury in spring practice, leaving their offense up in the air. They only have one WR with significant experience. The defense is a little bit more solidified but it is going to be a rude awakening to the SEC I believe.

Schedule Analysis

Out of Conference:

SE Louisiana: Win
ASU: Win
UCF: Win
Cuse: Win

SEC:

Georgia: Loss
at SC: Loss
Vandy: Decider
Bama: Loss
Kentucky: Win
at Florida: Loss
at Tennessee: Decider
at Texas A&M: Loss

SEC Football - Missouri QB James Franklin

Missouri QB James Franklin

Analysis

Not only do they have depth issues, but they play a tough schedule (I know I’ve said this a million times, but it’s the SEC). I think they have a shot to make a bowl game, but that will require a win or two over their SEC foes. A lot of their season is riding on the shoulder of Franklin, literally.

Final Record:

6-6

South Carolina

“Well sthe oles ballsh coach had sthe greatest shheason is Gamecuck hishtory lash yearsh. Ish about time shomeone shurpassed me.” – Lou Holtz.

South Carolina is coming off a great 11 win season, and returning the QB that turned things around for them. As much as I liked watching drunk Stephen Garcia pull some Big Ben-esque moves, Connor Shaw is a going to be a good playmaker for the Cocks this season, and more importantly, a good leader. Lattimore returning from ACL surgery, things could be good in Columbia.

Schedule Analysis

Out of Conference:

ECU: Win
UAB: Win
Wofford: Win
Clemson: Decider

SEC:

at Vandy: Win
Missouri: Win
at Kentucky: Win
Georgia: Decider
at LSU: Loss
at Florida: Decider
Tennessee: Win
Arkansas: Win

Analysis

South Carolina has a tough schedule this year. They have potentially the best RB in the land but lost star WR Alshon Jeffrey, as well as 5 great defenders. They have 3 games that I think will decide how they do this year. If they can knock of Georgia and Florida, they should have a trip to the SEC Championship game, for a potential rematch against the Tigers.

Final Record:

9-3

Tennessee

Everyone is calling this team the sleeper. Dooley has finally had the opportunity to settle himself and this is a year that they can turn it around. It doesn’t help they play some tough teams from the West. They have a stellar O-line, and a returning QB.  It certainly doesn’t help that Da’Rick is gone indefinitely, but I am a firm believer that no coach boots a kid for a season if he doesn’t have a back up plan. The defense is deep and the season for the Vols is somewhat limitless.

Schedule Analysis

SEC Football - Tennessee WR Justin Hunter

Tennessee WR Justin Hunter

Out of Conference:

NC State: Decider
GA St: Win
Akron: Win
Troy: Win

SEC:

Florida: Loss
at Georgia: Loss
at Miss St: Win
Bama: Loss
at SC: Loss
Missouri: Decider
at Vandy: Win
Kentucky: Win

Analysis

There is a lot of potential here for the bowls. The NC State game will set the pace for the season, as NC State is a solid team that could give them issues. I definitely see them making a bowl this year, but to take the step to the next level in the SEC, they will have to establish their run and have a fearful defense. Maybe next year.

Final Record:

7-5

Vanderbilt

Vandy came off a surprising season last year, and looks to build upon that.  Once Jordan Rodgers started slinging the rock for the Commodores, Vandy looked dangerous.  The offense will be dangerous yet again, but the biggest question mark for Vandy is, can they replace some key losses on the defense?

Schedule Analysis:

Out of Conference:

Northwestern: Win
Presbyterian: Win
UMass: Win
Wake Forest: Decider

SEC:

South Carolina: Loss
at Georgia: Loss
at Missouri: Loss
Florida: Loss
Auburn: Loss
Kentucky: Win
Ole Miss: Win
Tennessee: Decider

Analysis

Vandy not only has a tough out of conference schedule, where I could see them having 2 close games, but also will struggle to win more than 2 games in the SEC.  I think a bowl game is in sights for Vandy this year, but probably not too much more.

Final Record:

6-6

SEC East Analysis

Georgia: 12-0
Florida: 10-2
SC: 9-3
Tennessee: 7-5
Missouri: 6-6
Vandy: 6-6
Kentucky: 3-9

I think this comes down to a 3 team race, and who can win the big ones: Georgia, Florida, and SC. I think Georgia is in the best shape, with the easiest schedule and the better QB and just as solid defense.  When all is said and done, Florida has a shot to upset them, but I don’t see it happening.

 

SEC Championship Game

Bama vs. Georgia. Going with Bama over LSU in this game because I think their QB already knows how the SEC defenses work, and it may take Mettenberger awhile to adjust. Both defenses have questions marks, and I think Saban takes the game against LSU in a very close game.

I’m sticking to my guns, and claiming that Georgia redeems themselves in the SEC Championship game this year after the embarrassment last year.

Disclaimer: As the season goes on, my week-to-week capping may completely change my plays or viewpoints on my predictions listed above.  Don’t hate me.

That is my early take on the SEC title race this year. You can check out more information on the SEC and read the entire 2012 SEC  Preview article at College Football Zealots.

Please leave me your thoughts and questions on the 2012 SEC preview below. Thanks.

- SabertStxVii

 

 

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