Can Crimson Tide win it all again? Why yes, I believe they can

Here is a word to the wise. If you’re around Alabama coach Nick Saban, don’t say anything about the Crimson Tide “defending” their national championship in 2010. “You can’t defend a championship because it is not the same team that won a year ago,” he said.

But you can REPEAT as national champions, Saban conceded, and that is what the Crimson Tide, which has gone 12-0 in consecutive regular seasons, will attempt to do in 2010.

There is a reason that no team has repeated as consensus national champions since Nebraska did it in 1994-95. It’s hard. Players move on. The ones who return aren’t as hungry or don’t work as hard. Or stuff just happens.

Florida was certainly good enough to do it last season but Alabama was standing in the way. I thought Miami would do it in 2002 but they ran into a resourceful Ohio State team that won the BCS championship game in overtime. (Yes, there was a controversial pass interference call, but let’s not digress).

Heck, it’s hard to repeat as SEC champions. Nobody has done it since Tennessee in 1997-98.

Having said all that, I’m picking Alabama to win the SEC West for the third consecutive year and to beat Florida in the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on Dec. 4. Will that be good enough to earn a shot at the BCS title? For the past four years it has been. There is no reason to think that will change in 2010.

Let’s take our Spring Review of the SEC West. The ACC Atlantic is on deck for Wednesday.:

 

 

1. ALABAMA

**–Last season:  14-0, 8-0 SEC; beat Florida 32-13 in SEC championship game; beat Texas 37-21 in BCS championship game.

**–Coach:  Nick Saban, 124-50-1 in 14 years; 33-8 in three seasons at Alabama.

**–Key losses:  LB Rolando McClain, DT Terrence Cody, CB Kareem Jackson, CB Javier Arenas, OG Mike Johnson.

**–Returning starters: Offense 8, defense 2, specialist 0.

**–Players to watch:  RB Mark Ingram, RB Trent Richardson, QB Greg McElroy, WR Julio Jones, DE Marcell Dareus.

**–What we learned:  The Alabama offense is going to be very, very good. There are a couple of spots that need to be filled on the offensive line, but there is young talent that O-line coach Joe Pendry feels pretty good about. Greg McElroy is an established quarterback who has a Heisman Trophy winner (Mark Ingram) at tailback. Ingram’s backup, sophomore Trent Richardson (5.2 ypc), may actually be better and will get the opportunity to prove it. Junior WR Julio Jones (43 catches in 2009) is finally healthy again and is going to have a breakout season. Alabama was fourth in the SEC in total offense (403.0 ypg) and scoring offense (32.1 ppg) last season. Expect those numbers to improve. Because of McElroy’s experience and knowledge of the offense, expect Alabama to take a few more shots down the field in 2010.

**–What we still don’t know: Can DC Kirby Smart rebuild with nine new starters? As crazy as this sounds, I don’t think there is going to be a talent drop off on the defensive side of the ball at Alabama. Dont’a Hightower has recovered from a knee injury suffered last September and moves in to take McClain’s spot at inside linebacker. Alabama is deep at all three positions on the defensive line (DE Marcell Dareus is going to be a great, great player). There are still some questions in the secondary where only SS Mark Barron returns. There are also a bunch of questions on the special teams were incoming freshmen will probably handle the punting and place kicking jobs. The other thing we don’t know is whether or not Alabama can stay hungry as a football team after winning the national championship. Managing a talented team coming off a national championship is not easy. Saban is one of a handful of coaches who can do it well.

**–Opening game:  Sept. 4 vs. San Jose State

 

 

2. ARKANSAS

**–Last season: 8-5, 3-5 SEC; beat East Carolina 20-17 in Liberty Bowl.

**–Coach: Bobby Petrino, 54-21 in six years, 13-12 in two seasons at Arkansas.

**–Key losses:  RB Michael  Smith, OG Mitch Petrus, DT Malcolm Sheppard.

**–Returning starters:  Offense 9, defense 7, specialist 2.

**–Players to watch:  QB Ryan Mallett, TE D.J. Williams, WR Joe Adams, WR Greg Childs, LB Jerry Franklin.

**–What we learned:  QB Ryan Mallett didn’t practice, but he got better. Mallett, an All-SEC second team quarterback after throwing for 3,642 yards (30 TD) last season, broke the little toe on his left foot while doing conditioning drills on Feb. 17. He had surgery to repair the bone and sat out the spring the physical part of spring practice. “But Ryan stood behind every huddle call and went through it mentally,” Petrino said. “I was impressed at the maturity he showed and what he got out of spring ball.” When Mallett comes back to practice this summer Petrino will ask him to work to improve his medium range throws. The Hogs are deep at running back despite the loss of Michael Smith (5.6 ypg), deep at receiver (the top five pass catchers return), and four of the five starting offensive linemen return. This will be one of the best offenses in college football.

**–What we still don’t know: Can the defense improve just a little bit? If it does then Arkansas, which led the SEC in scoring offense (36.0 ppg), has a chance to make some noise in the SEC West. There were some signs in the spring that things could get better on a unit that was last in the SEC in total defense (401.2 ypg). Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson simplified the schemes so that his players could be more aggressive. “I think we’re much more physical on the defensive front than we were a year ago,” Petrino said. “We still have some questions to answer at linebacker.” Arkansas has a proven player at one of the linebacker positions in Jerry Franklin, who led the team in tackles with 94. Franklin can play both the inside and the outside positions. It won’t take us long to find out of Arkansas is for real. The Hogs’ first four conference games are at Georgia (Sept. 18), home against Alabama (Sept. 25), at Auburn (Oct. 16) and at home against Ole Miss (Oct. 23).

**–Opening game:  Sept. 4 vs. Tennessee Tech.

 

 

3. AUBURN

**–Last season: 8-5, 3-5 SEC; beat Northwestern 38-35 (OT) in Outback Bowl.

**–Coach: Gene Chizik, 13-24 in three years, 8-5 in one season at Auburn.

**–Key losses:  TB Ben Tate, DE Antonio Coleman, TE Tommy Trott.

**–Returning starters: Offense 7, defense 8, specialist 1.

**–Players to watch: RB Mario Fannin, QB Cameron Newton, WR Darvin Adams, LB Josh Bynes.

**–What we learned: With Cameron Newton at quarterback, Auburn fans will now see the complete version of Gus Malzahn’s offense. Last season Chris Todd ran the Auburn offense and was limited in his ability to run. But with Newton, a 6-6, 247-pound JUCO transfer, Auburn will be able to threaten opposing defenses with a quarterback who can run very well.  “Cam can do some things to help us,” Malzahn said. “He has a chance to be a very good player.” We also learned that Auburn is a pretty stable situation. It was the only team in the SEC to return its coaching staff intact. “We’re proud of that because the coaches here believe in what we’re building,” said Chizik.

**–What we still don’t know:  Will Mario Fannin step up at running back? Ben Tate had a monster senior season (1,362 yards rushing) in this offense in 2009 and became the sixth running back taken in the NFL Draft. Now the position goes to Fannin, a senior from Hampton (Lovejoy H.S.). Fannin ran for 285 yards and caught 42 passes for 413 yards from the H-back position last season.  Fannin should have room to run as four of five starters return on the offensive line. We also don’t know if Auburn will be able to find some more linebackers. Josh Bynes (104 tackles) and Craig Stevens (95 tackles) spent too many snaps on the field last season. Eltoro Freeman, a JUCO transfer last season, has talent but never mastered the defense last season. Safety Daren Bates was used some at linebacker in the spring. “We have to get more bodies back there to give our guys a break,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. Auburn finished 11th in the SEC in total defense (374.1 ypg) and appears to be short on talent again. Here is the key stat: Auburn’s defense was on the field for 945 plays (72.6 per game) in 13 games last season. That was more than any other team in the SEC.

**–Opening game: Sept. 4 vs. Arkansas State.

 

 

4. LSU

**–Last season:  9-4, 5-3 SEC; lost to Penn State 19-17 in Capital One Bowl.

**–Coach: Les Miles, 79-36 in nine seasons; 51-15 in five seasons at LSU.

**–Key losses: OT Ciron Black, WR Brandon LaFell, DE Rahim Alem, FS Chad Jones.

**–Returning starters: Offense 6, defense 4, specialist 2.

**–Players to watch:  QB Jordan Jefferson, CB Patrick Peterson, WR Terrance Toliver, LB Kelvin Sheppard.

**–What we learned: Only four starters return on defense, but that unit will be better in the second year under John Chavis. LSU’s defense lost a bunch of talented players but for most of the spring the defense was well ahead of the offense.  Senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard is back along with cornerback Patrick Peterson and that gives LSU a couple of anchors to build upon. This will be a faster, more physical defense. Chavis wants to force more turnovers this season. LSU forced only 18 turnovers in 13 games last season (5 fumbles, 13 interceptions). By contrast Alabama, last year’s champion, forced 31 turnovers.

**–What we still don’t know: Will new passing game coordinator Billy Gonzalez have an impact on the offense? LSU fans had better hope so because last season the Tigers were an offense without an identity. LSU could not run the ball (11th in the SEC at 122.8 ypg), could not pass the ball (ninth in the SEC at 181.8 ppg) and could not score (10th in the SEC at 24.8 ppg). And let’s not even mention the clock management issues. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson completed 61.5 percent of his passes but it was clear that the offense was simplified for him. Miles is not ruling out the possibility of going back to junior quarterback Jarrett Lee, who had a meltdown as the starter in 2008 as he threw seven “pick sixes” and LSU went 8-5. Lee (40 passes) played sparingly behind Jefferson last season.  In an effort to get some big plays into the offense sophomore Russell Sheppard has been moved from quarterback to wide receiver. LSU needs to get back to basics and start running the football again. In 2007, when LSU won the BCS championship, the Tigers averaged 214 yards rushing per game. In 2008 (8-5) LSU averaged 166.8 and in 2009 (9-4) the average dropped to 122.7.

**–Opening game: Sept. 4 vs. North Carolina (Georgia Dome, Atlanta).

 

 

 

 

5. MISS. STATE

**–Last season: 5-7, 3-5 SEC.

**–Coach: Dan Mullen, 5-7 in his second season at Mississippi State.

**–Key losses:  RB Anthony Dixon, LB Jamar Chaney.

**–Returning starters: Offense 7, defense 8, specialist 2.

**–Players to watch:  QB Chris Relf, QB Tyler Russell, DE Pernell McPhee, WR Chad Bumphis.

**–What we learned:  The offense will miss RB Anthony Dixon (1,391 yards), but it will be better in 2010. Four of five starters return on the offensive line and that’s why Dixon led the Bulldogs to an average of 227.6 yards rushing per game. Mississippi State may have found Dixon’s replacement in JUCO transfer Vic Ballard, who had 73 yards on 14 carries in the spring game. Mississippi State also has two proven quarterbacks in junior Chris Relf and redshirt freshman Tyler Russell. Relf looks like he’ll start but Russell is too talented to keep on the bench.

**–What we still don’t know:  Will the defense create more negative plays under new coordinator Manny Diaz? There were some bright spots on the Mississippi State defense last season as the Bulldogs had 17 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. But they also finished 89th in tackles for loss (61 in 12 games) and 104th in sacks (16 in 12 games). Veteran DC Carl Torbush left Starkville to take the same job at Kansas.  So Mullen brings in Diaz, whose Middle Tennessee defense finished second nationally in tackles for loss and (112 in 13 games) and sixth in sacks (38 in 13 games) last season. The defense will miss LB Jamar Chaney, but look for an even more aggressive style in an effort to create more negative plays by the Bulldog defense.

**–Opening game: Sept. 4 vs. Memphis.

 

 

6. OLE MISS

**–Last season:  9-4, 4-4 SEC; beat Oklahoma State 21-7 in Cotton Bowl.

**–Coach: Houston Nutt, 129-78 in 17 seasons, 18-8 in two seasons at Ole Miss.

**–Key losses:  QB Jevan Snead, RB Dexter McCluster, OG John Jerry, CB Marshay Green.

**–Returning starters: Offense 3, defense 6, specialist 1.

**–Players to watch: DE Kentrell Lockett, S Johnny Brown, LB Allen Walker, OT Bobby Massie.

**–What we learned:   There has to be some drop off in the Ole Miss offense. Just do the math: Ole Miss was fourth in the SEC in total offense last season (402.4 ypg). Gone from that unit are eight starters, including the quarterback (Jevan Snead), one of the best all-purpose players in college football (Dexter McCluster), one of the best receivers in the SEC (Shay Hodge,  led the SEC with 70 catches, 1,135 yards), three starters on the offensive line and the offensive coordinator (Kent Austin, now the head coach at Cornell). The biggest concerns are on the offensive line.  “We knew this year was coming,” Nutt said. “We’ve got guys we can’t keep in the freezer any more. We have to get them ready to play.”  It looks like Ole Miss has found a center in sophomore A.J. Hawkins and the tackle spots are in good hands with junior Bradley Sowell and sophomore Bobby Massie.

**–What we still don’t know: Will backup QB Raymond Cotton be ready to go in the fall? Cotton, a redshirt freshman, was bothered by a bad shoulder all spring. Sophomore Nathan Stanley would have probably won the job anyway, but now Cotton may need surgery, which would knock him out for the 2010 season. Coach Houston Nutt said that the hope is that Cotton can manage the shoulder with rehab. We know that Stanley will be fine at quarterback and that there are adequate running backs in place (Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis).  But what we don’t know is how the offense will function with veteran Dave Rader and Mike Markuson as co-offensive coordinators. Austin brought a certain creativity from his Canadian Football League background. Will Rader and Markuson provide that creativity to compensate for some possible issues on the offensive line?  The defense, which returns six starters from a unit that finished fourth in the SEC (314.7 ypg) is going to have to step up. If Ole Miss can run the ball and play defense—a successful formula for Houston Nutt—the Rebels could be better than this sixth-place projection. But also remember this: The schedule, which was so favorable to Ole Miss in 2009, flips this season with games at Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU.

**–Opening game:  Sept. 4 vs. Jacksonville State.

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308 comments Add your comment

Kirby Smart

May 4th, 2010
8:28 am

First!

Just like the Crimson Tide!

Dink

May 4th, 2010
8:38 am

Tony,

Whoa Nellie, LSU 4th in the SECW? They’ll run Miles outta town.

Not sure if the Tide can repeat with the big bulls eye on ‘em now. Running the SEC gauntlet against all those opponents with bye weeks is a tall order.

Watch out for the Hogs, lotta talent there and Petrino is a good coach (something about that 3rd year for a HC).

Go Dawgs!

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

May 4th, 2010
8:41 am

Bama repeats?………………………..Nope

ga gator

May 4th, 2010
8:45 am

If Bama wins the West which I think they can and can beat Florida twice, which I think they can, there is no reason they won’t be able to win it all. If Bama fans are more patient than Gator fans were, expecting 50 point blow-outs and being dejected after beating Tenn by 10, then the pressure won’t get to them like it did for Florida. Bama has the unquestioned top 2 RB’s in the country on the same team and a QB that just somehow manages to win. The D should be spotty at first but Saban will be all over the unit and by the end of the season they will play like vets.

David

May 4th, 2010
8:47 am

The better question is who in the country can beat Alabama? I think they may run away with the title next year.

Skram30082

May 4th, 2010
8:53 am

Hey Dink,

Of course LSU would be 4th in the SECW, if they were listed ALPHABETICALLY…

Morrus

May 4th, 2010
8:53 am

Here’s the bed we lie in:
In the Georgia Senate, 23 senators have no opposition in either the primary or general election (14 Republicans and nine Democrats).
In the Georgia House of Representatives, 91 representatives have neither primary nor general election opposition (46 Republicans and 45 Democrats). As a result, almost one-half of the Georgia Senate (56 total members) and over one-half of the Georgia House of Representatives (180 total members) will face no opposition in 2010.
Go back to sleep.

Brian

May 4th, 2010
8:53 am

I think Bama will win the west again. And I also think its funny the AJC will not allow comments on the Mettenberger matter. Its not like UGA players don’t get arrested and plead guilty to crimes all the time. What are you afraid of AJC the truth will hurt the UGA FANS.

Kiffinisatosser

May 4th, 2010
8:54 am

Bama’s D has disbanded. It is a different team. Yes, the offense will be a little better, but the key to the champeenship was the D and that ain’t there. Hogs will take them down.

Dink

May 4th, 2010
8:56 am

Sorry Skram30082, I read the article on Bama and then with Bama first I thought they were ranked.

Time for another cup of coffee, Go Dawgs!

D B Cooper

May 4th, 2010
9:02 am

I agree Bama repeats. Won’t hurt that Saban’s great recruiting class of ‘08 will be ready to step in too.
I’d bet my wife on it but not my house.

Beast from the East

May 4th, 2010
9:03 am

Wow, LSU picked 4th? I see Bama, Auburn or LSU, Arkansas, Miss St, Ole Miss. Bama still is the team to beat. Hope to see you guys in the ATL come December!!!

DP

May 4th, 2010
9:03 am

Trent Richardson is a freak athlete and a great back, but enough with the Richardson may be better than Ingram talk until he shows vision and cutting ability to rival Ingram’s. However, if Richardson makes the kind of improvement from his freshman to sophomore year that Ingram did that will truly be a scary duo. If the offensive line can pass block, with the running game and returning receiving corps there’s no excuse for McElroy not to hit a lot more big passing plays down the field off play action than he did last year. If he doesn’t, will Saban dare go to A.J. McCarron who throws a beautiful deep ball?

Alabama will have better athletes on defense this year than last year but last year’s group rarely missed an assignment. The September game at Arkansas will be a big test for the young secondary.

Alphare

May 4th, 2010
9:08 am

Every time BAMA plays in the SECCG, FL is there. I don’t see anything different this year. BAMA has a better advantage to FL than last year, because FL is in a rebuilding year.

Every SEC champ went on to win NC in the last 4 times.

Yes, BAMA has a good chance to repeat as a national champ.

Typical Gator Fan

May 4th, 2010
9:10 am

It’s really hard to beat a team twice in one year. So make sure you win the second game of the two. Like we did when we split with FSU to win the National Championship game. “Danny Wuerffel will not be used as a tackling dummy.”

RxDawg

May 4th, 2010
9:12 am

It’s hard to see anyone else knocking Bama off. They will win the west, but they will loose a game, maybe two, that they aren’t supposed to.

Tony the Dawger

May 4th, 2010
9:14 am

Typical, I wish we could play Florida twice in one year.

Alphare

May 4th, 2010
9:15 am

Yes, BAMA’s defense may not be as good. But FL’s offense is not as good either.

Since FL is the only foreseeable stumbling block on BAMA’s way, BAMA’s weakened defense may not be a big factor for them to reach the top of the world.

JASon

May 4th, 2010
9:18 am

“Can Crimson Tide win it all again? Why yes, I believe they can”
Alabama lost 8 out of its top 10 defensive players, including Mcclain, Cody, and Arenas, and yet you are spewing this trash. And you are supposed to be the college football expert?

RxDawg

May 4th, 2010
9:19 am

In fact, I could very well see the SEC chewing each other up this year and two of the other “big fish in little pond” teams across the country going undefeated and playing the championship game. It will spark some mighty debate.

SaintsLSU

May 4th, 2010
9:21 am

The SEC West will be a blood bath. I believe the winner will have two losses. It will be about beating the right teams and a couple of breaks going your way. I know LSU has the ability to go 10-2. But there is a fine line between 10-2 and 8-4 in the SEC. I worry a little that JJ has not taken full control of this team, and am horrified of the thought of Jarret “Pick 6″ Lee coming back. He single handedly gave UGA that game in Tiger Stadium in ‘08 with TWO pick 6s. I’m sure you Dawgs remember that one. But if JJ can put it together, LSU will be a dangerous team. I know many of you are down on Les Miles, but keep in mind we had to boot our star/knucklehead QB Perrilloux, which set us back two years. This year will tell us a lot about Coach Miles and the direction of the LSU football program. I can’t wait to play UNC in ATL. Geaux Tigers!

Tormentor

May 4th, 2010
9:21 am

JASon, no only Dawg fans are the college football experts.

bamafan

May 4th, 2010
9:25 am

Hey Typical Gator Fan – you are correct. Hard to beat the same team twice in one year. But do you remember 1999? Bama beat Florida in Gainesville 40-39 in overtime, and then soundly defeated Florida in the SEC Championship Game. It is hard, but it has been done.

Reptiles Rule

May 4th, 2010
9:28 am

An 11-1 Alabama vs a 10-2 Florida in the Dome. Then I think we got a legit 50/50 shot though Bama will be favored I’m sure. Everybody else in the SEC in the West and East will be playing for second place. And LSU in 4th place?? That would be very hard to imagine. Still not sold on Arkansas. Could they be last years ‘Ole Miss?? I think they could. Beware of Auburn and Miss State.

Typical Gator Fan

May 4th, 2010
9:28 am

bamafan. While I agree it’s hard I just don’t think you need to win the regular season game if you can win the SEC Championship game. Why put a ton of effort into a game the really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things?

fishtales

May 4th, 2010
9:29 am

JASon – Well we know YOU aren’t the college football expert…or you would know that several of Bama’s starters on D had significant playing time last year. It’s not like they are running a bunch of redshirt freshmen out there. Maybe you remember Marcell Dareus from the NC game? Donte Hightower, Mark Barron, etc. You might not agree with Tony, but at least he does his homework…unlike you village idiot.

SaintsLSU

May 4th, 2010
9:31 am

Tony the Dawger, no, you do not want to play Florida twice a year.

Typical Gator, I love those old Spurrier quotes “Danny Wuerffel-tackling dummy” and “Cant spell citrus without UT”

And another SEC player arrested, what a shocker! T-Bob got a DUI in BR this past weekend. His blood/alchohol was .08, right on the cut line. Those BR police are really tough on DUIs. In NO way do I condone this, but at least he wasn’t hammered. Oh well, hope to see you back on the field T-Bob.

Kiffinisatosser

May 4th, 2010
9:31 am

LSU seems like the odd team out this year. Lester Miles to Michigan after Rich Rod is fired? They wouldn’t be that stupid would they?

InLamansTerms

May 4th, 2010
9:32 am

Tony,

Excellent job! The Arkansas-Alabama game will be a great game.

Slight correction on the Arkansas capsule. Ole Miss travels To Fayetteville, but you have it as a road game for the Hogs. You noted correctly in your Ole Miss capsule that the Rebels travel to Arkansas.

EW

May 4th, 2010
9:33 am

Tide will slip in at least one game. Can’t see them undefeated with the scheduling “glitch”. Heck Tenn almost tripped them up last year. It’s just too tough to go undefeated in the SEC again.

XpatHeel

May 4th, 2010
9:34 am

LSU WILL finish 4th or worse, and on Sept. 4, UNC will show you why.

Can You Dig It

May 4th, 2010
9:35 am

Reptiles Rule….Hate to break it to you but Florida’s not even gonna be able to smell the SEC championship game….your gators are in for a long year…..Can You Dig It!

Reptiles Rule

May 4th, 2010
9:35 am

Oh, and to Tony the Dawger…we wish you could too.

Volzecutor

May 4th, 2010
9:35 am

Who was the last truly good QB that played for LSU other than JaMarcus? I am thinking it was Bert Jones.

Tormentor

May 4th, 2010
9:36 am

Can you dig it, enjoy the trail of tears again this year from jax…dig this!

uhoh

May 4th, 2010
9:38 am

But…sniff….us Bammers have to play all those ….sniff….teams that ….snifff….have a bye ….sniffle….week right before….sniff…we have to play ….sniff….them. Plus…sniff…we have to ….sniff….play….Bill Curry’s GA….sniff….State team right before…..we play ….sniff,sniff… Auburn. Woe be us.

jumbeauxtiger

May 4th, 2010
9:38 am

One thing you didn’t mention Tony is that you have to have some luck to win it all which is another reason it is tough to repeat. LSU obviously had luck on their side in 2007, the Gators blocked a game-winning FG by South Carolina in 2008 and of course we all know about the Bama-Tenn game last season.

The Tide is heads and tails above everyone in the SEC West and are the team to beat nationally. They will probably be favored in every game and I would not be surprised to see them go undefeated again. However no matter how much talent a team has, replacing 9 starters on defense is not easy. And don’t discount what Tiffin meant to the Tide. It will be interesting.

LSU and Arkansas have the best shot to challenge Bama. Obviously the Razorbacks need to have improvement on defense. Whether they will is anyone’s guess. The Tigers probably will run the ball better but that won’t matter if Jefferson doesn’t improve. Jefferson is the difference between LSU going anywhere from 7-5 to 11-1. I have serious doubts about him though.

Auburn will be fairly good in my opinion but is still at least 2 more strong recruiting classes away from being a serious contender.

Miss State very well could be bowl eligible. I think Mullen is a very good coach and I think he will get a high-profile job soon.

Ole Miss has lost alot and I don’t see them being a factor. Another weak OOC schedule will probably get them to a bowl.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

Pedro the illegal taco

May 4th, 2010
9:38 am

Bama needs to be hyped up. Nothing better than a hyped up pre-season number one ranking to boost a few hillbilly egos in Tuscaloser. UGA was pre-season number one a few years ago and they went on to lose 3-4 games that season. Unless the pre-season number one is Texas or USC, with a weak schedule and easy schools to play, it’s going to be tough for ANY SEC team to remain undefeated. Bama has a great coaching staff but remember, Nick Saban and LSU came off a national championship season in 2004 and went on to lose about 5 games the next season. I’ll take the teams that have zero hype like Auburn or Arkansas.

Tormentor

May 4th, 2010
9:40 am

jumbeauxtiger, Mullins high profile job will be in Gainesville when Urban retires early.

Reptiles Rule

May 4th, 2010
9:42 am

Can You Dig It…I sure hope you’re right about that long year. All the way to the BCS NC game would be nice. But unlike some (not you, of course LOL), I am realistic and know that will be a tough but not an altogether impossible task. I think we could at least be in the conversation. See you in Oct.

SaintsLSU

May 4th, 2010
9:43 am

XpatHeel, I am very excited about the opportunity to beat UNC in something. In the ‘08 CWS, we lost two tough game to the Heels. In the ‘09 NCAA Tourney, Marcus Thornton and the Tigers gave UNC its toughest test in their National Championship run, but fell short. This is our turn, in our sport. I know about your NFL talent-laden defense, but we have a strong defense also. Should be a great low scoring slug fest to open the 2010 season.

jumbeauxtiger

May 4th, 2010
9:43 am

And for those who say Tony has LSU 4th, he listed them clubs in alpha order.

jumbeauxtiger

May 4th, 2010
9:44 am

oops listed ‘the’ clubs

jumbeauxtiger

May 4th, 2010
9:46 am

Tormentor

May 4th, 2010
9:40 am
“jumbeauxtiger, Mullins high profile job will be in Gainesville when Urban retires early.”

If things don’t improve in Death Valley this fall, don’t rule him out at LSU.

jumbeauxtiger

May 4th, 2010
9:46 am

Tormentor

May 4th, 2010
9:40 am
“jumbeauxtiger, Mullins high profile job will be in Gainesville when Urban retires early.”

If things don’t improve in Death Valley this fall, don’t rule him out at LSU.

jumbeauxtiger

May 4th, 2010
9:48 am

Tormentor

May 4th, 2010
9:40 am
“jumbeauxtiger, Mullins high profile job will be in Gainesville when Urban retires early.”

Or LSU. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up at either place.

jumbeauxtiger

May 4th, 2010
9:49 am

sorry about the last one posted 3 times. crazy computer today

Volzecutor

May 4th, 2010
9:49 am

Yo guys…these are in projected order of finish…which weirdly happens to be alphabetically. Tony mentioned it specifically in yesterday’s column where he wrote “Projected Order of Finish”. He did not do it today, but in all liklihood he has not changed methodology. LSU 4th place….:-)

kgator79

May 4th, 2010
9:50 am

Fact is Alabama and Florida are the elite of the SEC. 2 years ago we saw this coming (A continual matchup in Atlanta of Florida/Alabama for years to come) Alabama the old school SEC king vs. Florida the new age SEC king. Hoping Florida could take round 3 against Bama in Atlanta this year, but if I were to pick today I’d have to pick Bama in that matchup. Then again last year we all would have picked Florida, so should be fun to watch how it all develops.

Jumbeaulackscomprehension

May 4th, 2010
9:51 am

Yeah, sorry Jumbeau, but I believe those are his order. Look at yesterday – Kentucky was listed 5th, which definitely is not in alphabetical order.