Conference Previews list our power rating for the conference, predicted order of finish as well as what the teams record will be in conference play only.
Conference Rating: #1
Predicted Order of Finish: SEC West
- Alabama (8-0): Saban and Co. are loaded this year. 7 returning starters on offense and 10 on defense. Their defense should be in the top 3 by the end of the year. They have depth with 53 returning letterman and Bama always knows how to recruit. We will see them in the conference championship game.
- LSU (7-1): Les Miles has done a great job at LSU and really is an underrated coach. His team was 11-2 last year with poor QB play. Look for QB Jefferson to really improve in his senior year. The defense is fearless and special teams are always great. Starters returning: 8 offense and 7 defense with 54 letterman returning. Couple of tough road SEC games at Mississippit St and Bama. LSU could be a dark horse for the BCS Title Game with a few upsets.
- Mississippi St (4-4): Mississippi St is loaded on offense led by QB Chris Relf. Look for Miss St to improve on their 29.0 ppg/ average from 2010. Schedule is brutal but we will call for a 3rd place finishe in the SEC West. Starters returning: 9 offense and 7 defense with 44 returning players. Dan Mullen has really resurrected this program and is starting to get some good recruiting classes coming. While they are talented, they will have to play road games at Georgia and Arkansas. They do get Alabama, LSU and South Carolina at home. Extremely difficult SEC schedule this year.
- Arkansas (4-4): The loss of All-American QB will hurt but Jr. Tyler Wilson should fill in nicely. Petrino knows how to make good QB’s and Wilson should have a solid year this year. The Hogs have excellent WR’s in Childs, Wright and Adams. The loss of 1st Team All-SEC RB Knile Davis to injury affects the running game. Returning Starters: 6 on offense and 7 on defense with 52 letterman returning. Hogs have talent but not enough to compete for an SEC Championship.
- Mississippi (2-6): Houston Nutt is an underrated coach but just simply can’t get the talent to come to Ole Miss. Recruiting has been down the last couple of years and that prompted a 4-8 record last year and we look for much of the same this year. Returning Starters: 9 offense and 4 defense with 47 returning players. Ole Miss does get Bama, LSU, Arkansas and Georgia all at home but there is just not enough talent there is compete with the big boys of the SEC. Look for another down year for Ole Miss.
- Auburn (1-7): With only 3 returning starters back on offense and 2 on defense from last year’s national championship team, Auburn looks to be rebuilding. While we think they will be more competitive than people think, it will still be a long year. Tough to go from the best to one of the worst but with so many strong teams in the SEC the talent just isn’t there. Look for a big bounce back year in 2012 but in 2011 it will be rough.
Predicted order of finish: SEC East
- South Carolina (8-0): Steve Spurrier has said that this is his best team at South Carolina since he took over. This is now his 7th year with The Cocks and this team is a dark horse national title contender. The top 3 SEC East teams will duke it out for who will get to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. The Cocks have 7 returning starters on offense and 6 on defense with 48 returning players. They are led by RB Marcus Lattimore and WR Alshon Jeffery. The defense will be Spurrier’s best at SC. The defense line is big and fast and linebackers are much improved. We like The Cocks to fight it out and get to Atlanta in 2011.
- Georgia (7-1): Georgia is one of the most improved teams in the country in 2011. They have great skill players on offense and defense. Recruiting has been in the top 10 the last few years and look for a solid effort from The Dawgs this year. Returning starters: 5 on offense and 7 on defense with 44 returning players. The SEC East title game will probably be Sept 10 when South Carolina goes to Georgia. What a battle that will be. We do love Georgia and the ability that they have this year but it won’t be enough to overtake The Cocks.
- Florida (4-4): Florida is talented but will be shifting from a spread offense to a pro-style and this could take some time for them to get used to. Will Muschamp was an excellent hire and he will have his team playing tough, physical defense like he did as a d-coordinator at Texas, Auburn and LSU. He brought in some top-notch coordinators in Charlie Weiss and Dan Quinn. The SEC is a brutal conference to play in and Florida will go through its lumps this year. Starters returning: 6 offense and 4 defense with 50 returning players. John Brantley needs to play well this year for Florida to be successful and Weiss will help him be more efficient. Florida will be good but in the SEC East just average.
- Tennessee (2-6): Seems like the media is casting the Vols as the darlings of the SEC this year. Everyone seems to think they will improve on their 3-5 conference play from last year. Well, they are talented and improving, they just don’t have enough to compete with their killer schedule. They are on the road at Florida, Bama and Arkansas. Home vs Georgia, LSU and South Carolina. Unless they pull off some serious upsets we are calling for 2-6 conference record and a team may sneak a bowl game going 6-6. Starters returning: 7 offense and 6 defense with 46 returning players. Coach Dooley has them going in the right direction but are still a year or two away from really contending in the SEC East.
- Kentucky (2-6): While the defense will be much improved this year with 10 returning starters, the offense will take a step back. The Cats lost some quality skill players on offense and we look for their 31.2 ppg average in 2010 to drop this year. But like we said the defense will be better and they will have to be to compete with the big boys in the SEC. Look for Kentucky to win all 4 non-conference games and if they can beat Vandy and Ole Miss at home they will be bowl eligible. Who knows, they pull off a couple of upsets and they could be at good bowl game this season but that doesn’t seem likely with the talent of many of the teams they have to play in the SEC.
- Vanderbilt (0-8): With a whole new coaching staff at Vandy there is a sense of excitement. However, this is still Vanderbilt and they are still very bad. All 11 starters return on offense and 8 on defense. That is the most in the SEC. The team is led by new HC James Franklin who was at Maryland for 8 seasons with the last couple as the offensive coordinator. Vandy will rally around their new coach but they need to get some better players in here before they can think about a winning season.
SEC Championship Game: Alabama vs South Carolina
SEC Champion: South Carolina
This SEC Preview was written by Michael Blake – Carolina Sports (Documented #1 College Football Handicapper 2010)