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Friday, May 15, 2009

Way Too Early Predictions

I try to reply to any comment on this blog that asks for a response -- although I admit, I miss a few. Anyway, I got this one last week and had been waiting to get some time to actually give it some thought.
From Matt: What would be your top 25 preseason poll? How would you rank the SEC for the East and West races? Who do you think will be the sneaky team that could win it all?
As we all know (and even Matt admitted) these preseason predictions are pretty meaningless -- especially at this point. But it's Friday, it's May, and what else do we really have to do?

So, here are a few of my thoughts (and remember, these are just for conversation's sake, so don't get all bent out of shape about them)...

As for the top 25, I'm really at a loss on making any grand predictions. The truth is, with the exception of coaches and players, sports writers see less of college football than almost anyone (odd then that it's writers and coaches who do the voting). Usually we are so consumed with the team we're covering and their opponent for that week that most of the rest of the college football world gets overlooked. So I don't know that I'll be much help on picking the top 25.

I do have some early thoughts on the SEC though...

Around the East...

Georgia: As I discussed earlier in the week, Georgia's offense is chock full of question marks. I don't think by any stretch that Joe Cox is another Joe Tereshinski, but he'll also have a lot fewer weapons around him than D.J. Shockley did. If the tailbacks don't take a big step forward, I really wonder how much Georgia will be able to score in 2009. (Wins: SCar, LSU, @ Tenn., @ Van, Aub, UK)

Florida: Let's just say the rest of the SEC (and the country) better hope the Gators get really overconfident. (Wins: All)

Kentucky: The Wildcats have nearly as many offensive question marks as Georgia does, but I do think there's enough talent on that team that a fourth straight bowl game will happen. (Wins: @Aub, MSU, Tenn.)

Vanderbilt: Last year's bowl game was nice, and I actually think the Commodores have a chance to have one of the better defensive units in the SEC, but I really don't know how they're going to put points on the board. (Wins: MSU, UK)

Tennessee: Still no quarterback, and Eric Berry can only do so much. Lane Kiffin's going to regret giving other coaches a reason to run up the score on him in 2009. (Wins: Auburn, Van)

South Carolina: I'm not buying the Stephen Garcia hype, and if he's not the answer, things could get very ugly for Steve Spurrier -- and this year's defense won't be anywhere near as good as last year's. Something tells me this is Spurrier's swan song in Columbia. (Wins: UK, Van., @ Tenn.)

PREDICTION: Florida 8-0, Georgia 6-2, Kentucky 3-5, South Carolina 3-5, Tennessee 2-6, Vanderbilt 2-6

Around the West...

LSU: Yes, the Tigers will be improved. That offense can't be any worse this year, and the defense can't possibly get torched the way it did in big games a year ago. Still, I'm not sure I buy into the huge turnaround everyone is predicting. They'll be better, but not dominant. (Wins: Van., @Miss. St, Aub., @Ole Miss, Ark.)

Ole Miss: Two big questions -- can the Rebels handle the role of favorites or were they a team that was better at sneaking up on people and can anyone step in to replace Michael Oher at left tackle. Jevan Snead is easily the second-best QB in the SEC, but if he can't stay upright, it won't matter. (Wins: @SCar, @Van., Ark., Ala., Tenn., @MSU)

Alabama: I love the defense, I'm extremely concerned about the offense. This seems like a team that is going to be in every game but, like last season, I'm not sure the depth is there to pull out fourth-quarter wins in close games against good teams. (Wins: @UK, SCar., Tenn., LSU, @MSU, @Aub.)

Mississippi State: Dan Mullen should at least make them more fun to watch, but he'd have to be a miracle worker to do what Houston Nutt did a year ago at Ole Miss. (Wins: None)

Auburn: I can't say I'm enthusiastic about Auburn's chances this year. Would I be shocked if the Tigers won the West? Yeah, a little, but it's possible. It's also quite possible they don't win a game in conference. Neither would surprise me. (Wins: MSU, Ole Miss)

Arkansas: OK, here's my dark horse. The Hogs haven't gotten a ton of attention, and they were clearly a weak link in the SEC a year ago. But Bobby Petrino knows offense, and even during their struggles last year, Arkansas still managed to move the football. If they can get any sort of improvement on the defensive side of the ball (an area that may be helped by the sheer ineptitude of some other SEC offenses) then I think this team is a clear bowl qualifier and maybe a potential division winner. (Wins: UGA, @Bama, Aub, SCar, MSU)

PREDICTION: Ole Miss 6-2, Alabama 6-2, LSU 5-3, Arkansas 5-3, Auburn 2-6, Mississippi State 0-8

Again, just some (very) early guesses at what might happen. What do you guys think? How much of an idiot am I? Who do you see as potential surprise teams?


Anonymous said...

I am curious as to why you would think we would beat LSU? They have a quarterback now and a better ruinning game. If not for the two interceptions last year, we probably would have lost even with our offense. I do not see our defense keeping them under 30 points so I have this as a loss.

David Hale said...

Anon, my feeling was that I thought Georgia would split between Arkansas and LSU, just not sure which they win and which they lose. For now, I just went with winning the home game and losing on the road, but it could certainly be different.

I don't think much of South Carolina either, but that game would worry me a bit considering how bad UGA played last season after big road games (like Okie State will be this season).

dan said...

I think the Dawgs will be 7-5. I think the Dawgs will beat Arkansas this year, even though I agree that Arkansas will be better. The fact that everyone is calling this a trap game means it won't be IMO. I actually think Auburn will be a surprise team this year with a 7-5 record and a win over UGA in Athens. That rivalry is always a strange one. Florida will beat the Dawgs but it will be closer than people think because of the bye UGA has before that game. I disagree with you about LSU, I think they're going to throttle UGA in Athens. I think they will lose to Florida in the regular season and beat them in the SEC Championship.

dan said...

And PS...I'm not sure why many Dawg fans have this perception that Sanford Stadium is a home field advantage. I've always felt that the Dawgs play some of their worst football at home and some of their best football on the road. You wann know how many SEC games Richt as lost on the road in 8 years? 4!( To BCS Champs LSU in 2003, to 14-0 Auburn in 2004, to Kentucky in 2006, and to Tennessee after the Vols had a bye week in 2007) You wanna know how many SEC games they have lost at home? 8! That means that they're twice as likely to lose a big SEC game at home than they are on the road. If you're going to bet on the Dawgs, do it when they're playing on the road. Trust me on this one.