The SEC still remains the best football conference in America until proven otherwise. It is a conference filled with large schools with fan bases that are so passion that boarders on the insane. The conference may have only one elite team in the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide, they also only have three teams that really have no chance of producing in 2010 (Mississippi St., Kentucky and Vanderbilt).
Alabama is the clear favorite to win the SEC again in 2010, and some believe that they should also be favored to play in the BCS Championship game, but for that to happen the Tide’s offense is going to have to carry Bama in a few games this year. The Alabama offense does have the talent to do this, QB Greg McElroy, WR Marquis Maze, WR Julio Jones, and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram are all back this year with the Tide. Also the Bama offense is going to try to get backup running back Trent Richardson more carries, as he may actually be the best back in Bama. There is little doubt that Alabama is going to have players on defense this year, its just that we may not know who those playmakers are going to be. Alabama only has one returning starter from a defense that was ranked #2 in 2009. Most of the new Bama defensive starter are juniors who have been waiting two years for their turn, but they are really going to be tested in the middle of their year playing at Arkansas, Florida, at South Carolina, Ole Miss, at Tennessee, and at LSU.
A lot of people believe that the Gators can still finish inside of the top 5 at the end of the year, but I am not one of them. I believe the Florida Gators are going to be a lot more like the 2007 Gators team than the 2009 Gators. ’07 was Tim Tebow’s first year as a starter and the Gators went 9-4 including a Cirtus Bowl loss to Michigan. This year the Gators are reloading, and as good as people believe John Brantley is going to be, this is still his first year as a starter in the SEC and he will have some down moments during the season. The Gators return only 10 starters, and while they may still win the SEC East, this is a Gators team that is going to be reloading in 2010. Florida has a fairly week SEC schedule by not playing Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Auburn, so their record should be inflated compared to just how good they really are. Don’t be surprised to see the Gators play the Canes in the 2011 BCS Championship Game.
The Gators should be able to get to the SEC Championship Game again this year if for no other reason than it is in the easier division, hands down. Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee are all going to be looking to take a step forward. I am going to take a bit of a risk because I am going to say that South Carolina is that team. In college I always favor the team with the returning quarterback, especially if the guy passed for 2,800+ yards and 17 touchdowns the previous year. South Carolina is going to need to have its offensive line gel and actually give some protection to Garcia, which with 4 senior o-linemen I am going to say that they are for the most part, but also the Gamecocks have Georgia and Tennessee come to Columbia this year.
This is the opposite of the SEC West who has a ton of talent behind Alabama. LSU has quite a few talented playmakers, but the team needs to gel. Auburn is a team that a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon for, and I have heard nothing but great things about their quarterback Cam Newton. The team that I am higher on than most people is Ole Miss. The Rebels may have the best d-line in the SEC and I am a huge Jeremiah Masoli fan. If Masoli can stay out of trouble and can learn the playbook fast enough, this could be a team that will catch many by surprise, much like the 2008 Ole Miss Rebels. Last but not least is the Arkansas Razorback who are the most offensively talented team in the SEC. The Razorbacks return 9 starters on offense that rip apart a lot of average defenses, but struggled at times versus some of the better SEC defenses. Of those 9 starters 4 of them are offensive linemen, who will have the job of protecting Ryan Mallet who threw for 3,624 yards in 2009. Mallet will again have plenty of weapons on offense to chose from at wide receiver, tight end, and running back. The only real questions about Arkansas is can the defense improve, they were last in the SEC and 89th in the NCAA in 2009, and can they handle the expectations that people have for their team this year.
- Alabama 11-1 (7-1)_____________1. Florida 10-2 (7-1)
- Auburn 10-2 (6-2)_____________2. South Carolina 8-4 (4-4)
- Arkansas 10-2 (6-2)____________3. Georgia 7-5 (4-4)
- Ole Miss 9-3 (5-3)_____________4. Tennessee 6-6 (3-5)
- LSU 7-5 (4-4)_________________5. Kentucky 5-7 (1-7)
- Miss St. 4-8 (1-7)______________6. Vanderbilt 1-11 (0-8)
Top 5 Games:
- Florida at Alabama, Oct 16th
- Alabama at Arkansas, Sept. 25th
- Penn St. at Alabama, Sept. 11th
- Florida at FSU, Nov. 27th
- Ole Miss at Arkansas, Oct 23rd
SEC Player of the Year: QB Ryan Mallet, Arkansas