I like UGA and LSU in the SEC, but I might be a minority of one

Only one team has a grasp on this series. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

One team has a grasp on this series. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

In advance of the SEC’s Media Days, I offer a refresher. Faithful readers will have seen this already, but you latecomers (or vacation-goers who happened to miss it) should be aware: This is how I envision the conference in 2011.

East

  1. Georgia
  2. South Carolina
  3. Florida
  4. Tennessee
  5. Kentucky
  6. Vanderbilt

West

  1. LSU
  2. Alabama
  3. Arkansas
  4. Mississippi State
  5. Auburn
  6. Ole Miss

A couple of caveats: I think Georgia and South Carolina will both finish 10-2, but the Bulldogs will win the division on the basis of beating the Gamecocks in Athens on Sept. 10. I also think the rest of the assembled media in Hoover, Ala., will see it somewhat differently. Here’s my guess — it’s a prediction of a prediction, a first even for me — of how the official SEC preseason poll will look:

East

  1. South Carolina
  2. Georgia
  3. Florida
  4. Tennessee
  5. Kentucky
  6. Vanderbilt

West

  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Arkansas
  4. Mississippi State
  5. Auburn
  6. Ole Miss

A couple more notes: I struggled — not mightily, but slightly — with my estimation of how the media will see Georgia and Florida. The temptation was to surmise that the folks who cover the league will have realized that Florida owns Georgia and slot the Gators a notch above the Bulldogs. But then I thought, “There’s a pretty good buzz around UGA, and I don’t detect one for the Reptiles.”

(For the record, I did pick Florida to beat Georgia in Jacksonville. I try to keep abreast of trends.)

Also: LSU finishing ahead of Alabama is going to be a minority opinion. The two play in Tuscaloosa, which could be the tipping point, and a lot of learned observers have greater faith in the Alabama coach than in LSU’s. (Me, I’ve again learned to like Les Miles, but that’s just me.)

And that’s it for this time. We’ll know a bit more — about how the winds are blowing, if not what’s actually going to transpire — later in the week. Stay tuned, won’t you?

By Mark Bradley

328 comments Add your comment

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 19th, 2011
10:22 am

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 19th, 2011
10:22 am

O yeah, you got the right one baby!

Jeremy

July 19th, 2011
10:23 am

I’m probably not first, and I don’t care if I am.

COCKS

July 19th, 2011
10:23 am

Bring on the puppies.

Seminole Ed

July 19th, 2011
10:23 am

First? I had to try.

EW

July 19th, 2011
10:26 am

Dawggone

July 19th, 2011
10:29 am

8th? Dawgs win the east! Finally!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 19th, 2011
10:29 am

You know with the whole running back scenario at UGA and the lack of proven weapons on the outside I really do have a hard time seeing UGA win the East. The defense really will have to step up and really play a attacking, turnover creating type of game. I think UGA has way to many question marks whereas USC has plenty of returning eapons on offense and defensively they are always tough. Would love to see it happen, but I would have to admit I will be really surprised if it does.

How Much Longer Until Toe Meets Leather?

July 19th, 2011
10:30 am

SEC West will be a dog fight. If State was in the East they would probably win it.

ormewood

July 19th, 2011
10:30 am

Should be a fun season. Can’t get here soon enough. Mark, I tend to agree with your guesstimate on the East. The West, beyond Bama and LSU will be a crapshoot, other than Ole Miss being at the bottom. How much longer can Houston Nutt survive in Oxford?

Dawgs97

July 19th, 2011
10:30 am

Dawgs & Tide.

Jordan Jefferson stinks and unLES Miles figures out to put Zack Mettenberger in (and I hope he doesn’t, I hate LSU) than hopefully Bama will take down the Tigers in Tuscaloosa.

(sorry…couldn’t resist the pun).

I agree of course about Georgia though I am admittedly biased. However, the SEC Media and people outside of Athens have NO CLUE how much our defense has dramatically improved. People won’t “get it” until they take the field on 9-3, whether Jarvis Jones plays in game 1 or not. And people don’t realize that Alec Ogletree is the next Rolando McClain and will be the BEST Defensive player in the conference.

Again, on July 19th, I am just the “Georgia fan” saying these things, but reality sets in less than 2 months. People will start to realize how much better Georgia is than last (two) years. Plus, people should factor in that the BEST Quarterback in the SEC is in Athens, Georgia in 2011.

Bama Bill

July 19th, 2011
10:30 am

You obviously have your bias and will be proven wrong again, butt it will be a GREAT year for football in the SEC !

MatthewH

July 19th, 2011
10:31 am

You picked FLA to beat UGA and UGA to beat USC. I am assuming you like USC to beat FLA. Who else does FLA lose to for the 3rd place finish?

Dawgs97

July 19th, 2011
10:31 am

I wrote a really thoughtful couple of paragraphs with real analysis and the AJC didn’t publish it? Thanks a lot.

Herschel Talker

July 19th, 2011
10:32 am

MB:

No chance. We have a rookie starting in the backfield, a depleted O-line, and a mental midget running the show. 2012 is our year!

HT

SmyrnaMan

July 19th, 2011
10:32 am

I like LSU… A Lot. But UGA? The Albatross in “White Squall” has a better chance of navigating the SECe then UGA

Tdawg

July 19th, 2011
10:33 am

DawginLex

July 19th, 2011
10:33 am

As much as it pains me to type this, I disagree Mark.

South Carolina
Georgia
Florida
Kentucky
Tennessee
Vanderbilt

Arkansas
Alabama
LSU
Miss St
Auburn
Ole Miss

Arkansas beats SC for the title but does not play for the BCS because Oklahoma and FSU will play for the title in a rematch from an earlier game in 2011.

JYD

July 19th, 2011
10:35 am

Have faith Dawg Nation. It’s always darkest before the dawn. Good things are on the horizon. GATA.

Dawgs97

July 19th, 2011
10:35 am

I’ll try again.

Dawgs win East, Bama wins West.

As long as Jordan Jefferson and NOT Zack Mettenberger is the LSU Quarterback (fine with me, I can’t stand LSU) Bama wins that division…their new QB is very good and the rest of the team is already there. Without a good Quarterback, Tigers will NOT go into Bryant Denny and beat Saban. Sorry Les Miles.

And people outside of Athens simply do not know or get how much better our defense is this year, whether Jarvis Jones plays Sept 3rd or not. Alec Ogletree is the next Rolando McClain and he’ll make his noise once the play on the field starts. This Georgia team will be a lot better than the last two years and the game on Sept 10th with the fighting Spurriers is IN Athens – bottomline, we win and we will take the East.

In addition, the BEST QUARTERBACK in the conference in 2011 lives in Athens, Georgia. Having the top QB can make the difference.

Question

July 19th, 2011
10:35 am

Out of curiosity, how many times have you been right on predicting east and west winners?

Sowega Tiger

July 19th, 2011
10:36 am

Mississippi State is OVERRATED.

Both divisions are a crapshoot. Can South Carolina maintain the level they achieved last year? How will Florida transition? Can Georgia survive with the thinnest RB depth in the conference?

Bama will be favored in the West (where have we seen that before?) but they lost 3 games last year. LSU will win some they shouldn’t and lose some as well thanks to the Hat. Miss State – see above. Auburn is being given no chance at all.

Thank God they have to play the games on the field and the winners are selected based on what people think.

bamaguy

July 19th, 2011
10:37 am

It’s all a guess at this point. I think the top two are accurate in each Division but its a toss up on which one ends up on top. Whoever wins the Alabama/LSU game will go on to win the SEC and play for the National Championship. My personal prediction for the SEC Championship game is Georgia/Alabama.

Chi Town

July 19th, 2011
10:37 am

Respect Saban and zeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, Nachos.

Jed Clampett

July 19th, 2011
10:38 am

Its most likely Bama and S. Carolina. Very rare for a team (Georgia) to go from outhouse to penthouse. I’ll take Nick Saban at home against Lester Miles any day. The big darkhouse is Arkansas in my view. Wheeeee Doggie !

Dallas,Tx Dawg

July 19th, 2011
10:38 am

I hope your predictions are correct, however, I’m just hoping we don’t have a train wreck of a season like we have had the last two years. There are a lot of if’s with the Dawgs this year. Either way, I am looking forward to some college football, and regardless, I still love my Dawgs !! I do like the fact that nobody seems to give us much of a chance, we seem to do better as an underdog .

RxDawg

July 19th, 2011
10:39 am

This Dawg fan doesn’t think we’ll beat USC in Athens. I just think they match up well against us. Hope I’m wrong.

If we make it to Atlanta it will be to USC falling apart towards the end of the season like usual.

Get Real

July 19th, 2011
10:39 am

Here we go again! Every year, the same thing. Get real Bulldog fans. You ain’t gonna be that good.

Skitty Fritty

July 19th, 2011
10:40 am

The UGA defense has to greatly improve with the problems at RB. Until they prove it on the field I can’t see UGA finishing ahead of USC and UF but hope I am wrong.

Why is everyone so high on Bama with no returning QB. I agree and think LSU is the pick.

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2011
10:40 am

Belated kudos to Lowcountry.

Dirty Dawg

July 19th, 2011
10:40 am

Certainly we’ve had enough disappointments over these past couple of years to warrant our timidity about letting our Bulldog mouths get ahead of our fast a$$es…and you, Bradley, haven’t done us any favors with this ‘prediction’…I mean have you gotten any pre-season picks, i.e., like Conference or Division Champs, ever?

Regardless, I think that with a few breaks and the proverbial ‘hard work’, this could be a good year. Certainly we’ve beaten Florida before and this is as good a year to do it again…to my recollection, not that I’m never wrong mind you, we’ve never lost to South Carolina two years running – with or without Spurrier…Boise State is riding high but if our defense can knock a few you-know-whats off, I suspect that they’ll be saying ‘wait till next year’ by half-time.

All that may be wishful thinking on my part, but then it’s the ‘Dawg Days’, whataya expect?

RJ Voorhees

July 19th, 2011
10:42 am

Mark i enjoy your articles, so i am in the minority of one also.

Bamalama

July 19th, 2011
10:42 am

Skitty,
Everyone said the same thing about McElroy in 09…we see how that turned out.

Sowega Tiger

July 19th, 2011
10:42 am

@ Skitty………..everybody is high on Alabama because Nick Saban is the almighty god of recruiting. Don’t you read bamaonline? I mean, if a kid signed with Alabama, then he is, by rule, the most super greatest player to ever chew on a mouthpiece. Just ask Harvey Updyke if you don’t believe it.

PMC

July 19th, 2011
10:42 am

I can’t buy into Georgia until I see them actually perform and start winning games again.

Preseason I don’t see how you can pick a team in the east if it’s not South Carolina. They are the most prepared to win right now. Only history hurts their image.

In the west, Until LSU actually has a QB come out and start leading all that talent effectively, I can’t pick them either. I think it’s going to be a free for all in the west this year. I think there are going to be lots of close games and a few upsets.

Dave

July 19th, 2011
10:42 am

Dawgs run the table and win national title this year and next two years!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 19th, 2011
10:43 am

Thank you Mark, I accept this honor on behalf of Marc Tyler. The man who drunkly showed the true colors of a USC Trojan! Thank you Marc!

Bamalama

July 19th, 2011
10:44 am

Sowega Tiger,

The Barn just won it all yet you’re still butthurt over Saban. LIttle brother syndrome never ends I guess. And Ole Harvey? Didn’t use enough Spike if you ask me.

Ifyouain'tagatoryougatorbait

July 19th, 2011
10:44 am

There is no way that UGA wins the east. No possible way. Mediocre 8-4 at best with 2 of those wins coming on flukes. I bet they even lose to those bees this year.

Go Gators!!!!

If you ain’t a gator, you gator bait!

PMC

July 19th, 2011
10:44 am

Also, if that happens again this year at Ole Miss Houston Nutt is probably getting fired.

UGA Insider

July 19th, 2011
10:46 am

I think UGA will struggle some this year. I can’t believe I’m about to type this but USCe is my pick to win the MNC game this year. Their schedule sets up nicely and have all the weapons on Defense and Offense and I think the baseball team has shown them the way. They also have the best DLine in the country and that’s not even including the #1 High School recruit int he country. Weapons everywhere. Kicker is clutch too. All they have to do is beat UGA and they should go undefeated.

cantondawg

July 19th, 2011
10:47 am

I predict Alabama will again lose 3 games this year. I predicted it last year and everybody called me crazy.

Sowega Tiger

July 19th, 2011
10:48 am

Bamalama……….I can assure you that I’m not butthurt, brother. Just having some fun. This is one of the few places that you can take a few good-natured jabs at Bama without having to deal with all of the low IQ mullets that hang out at AL.COM.

Funny though………..Harveys can call Chiz names, but when it happens to little NIcky, everybody starts pouting.

Steve

July 19th, 2011
10:48 am

It seems like a lot of people are forgetting how mediocre South Carolina really was last season. Sure, they won the SEC East, but that division was possibly the weakest division among BSC schools (including the ACC). Florida, Tennessee and Georgia were all having historically bad seasons, and South Carolina won seemingly by default.

But, people seem to remember South Carolina finishing 10-2 or 11-1 last season while rolling over everyone. I think the gamecocks are in for a rude awakening this season, even though their schedule does appear easier. UGA wins the East, but the SEC Champion will again come out of the West. I think LSU takes it all. They are far too talented for “the Hat” to screw it up.

Saint

July 19th, 2011
10:49 am

In the SEC East:

Florida is out, their October schedule this and last season is brutal and scared off Urban Meyer twice.

Georgia got to the red zone 3 times last season against South Carolina. Fumbled once and kicked 2 field goals–should have had 21 points, got 6 instead. Also, defensive line lost 3 guys to NFL draft before last season and gave up 188 yards rushing to Lattimore. If offensive red zone issues get fixed, and the new defensive line keeps Lattimore under 75 yards rushing, Georgia should win the game and the East.

South Carolina is LOADED on offense with 3 Heisman candidates. And they have one of the best front 7 defense in football. They also have an All American in the secondary. And an easier schedule than Georgia. You have to favor South Carolina.

DawginLex

July 19th, 2011
10:50 am

Insider

SC will get smashed at Fayetteville and will most likely lose at Starkville.

Those are the games they must lose in order for UGA to have a shot at the division.

They might still win the East but no way they are going undefeated.

Paul in RDU

July 19th, 2011
10:51 am

@Dirty Dawg
UGA has lost to SC in back to back years a 5 times, most recently in 2000-01 and in 1988-89.
UGA has never lost to SC 3 times in a row. Overall record is 43-15-2

Bodda Getta

July 19th, 2011
10:52 am

2011

1.Auburn
2.Alabama
3.LSU
4.Arkansas
5.Mississippi State
6.South Carolina
7.Florida
8.Ole Miss
9.Tennessee
10.Kentucky
11.Georgia
12.Vanderbilt

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

ckgator

July 19th, 2011
10:53 am

Yes!!! Another Dawg East champ prediction by Bradley! I love these every year.

Nothing personal Mark, but the rest of the country sees UGA as a poor man’s South Carolina at best.

Whiskey Breath

July 19th, 2011
10:54 am

Shame on you Mark. This is Jeff Schulz’s prediction. If in doubt, tell the home fans what they want to hear. Man that takes a lot of thought.
When was the last time Ga won the east and kicked Florida? STOP taking notes from Jeff, damn it.
You keep taking Jeff’s advise, I hope you go bald and grow a beard.