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SEC Bloggers: 2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 2
One shot wasn't enough Jack, we better make it two. The SEC Bloggers return with even more SEC pre-season prognostications. Don't like what they guys have to say? Feel free to e-mail any or all of them.
SEC IN-CONFERENCE GAME OF THE YEAR
Billy Gomila - Florida at Alabama – October 2, 2010
The two league heavyweights of the moment – though both with some questions to answer, particularly on defense. The divisions behind both teams are full of question marks, which means there's a good chance this will be an SEC Championship Game preview.
Brian Harbach - Auburn at Alabama – November 26, 2010
The Iron Bowl is back and it is better than ever. Last year was arguably the best SEC game of the year and this year with two teams trending upwards it should be another classic game. Auburn is a sleeper for the West this season and Alabama is the clear favorite for the SEC Championship. Even if this game is not deciding a Western division title, there is plenty on the line in Gene Chizik's first visit to Tuscaloosa.
Gabe Harris - Florida at Alabama – October 2, 2010
The last two national champions (and three of the last four) meet during the regular season for the first time with Nick Saban as head coach of Alabama. Alabama will be the overwhelming favorite to repeat as SEC Champions; while Florida will be in rebuilding mode (if what you call what the Gators do rebuilding), yet will likely still be the SEC East favorites. Will Urban Meyer be there to witness it? I don't think he'll miss it.
Russ Mitchell - Alabama at LSU – November 6, 2010
Like this turkey shoot needed anymore fuel, toss in the "INT No Call" from last season, and the Bayou will be rockin' come November. Jefferson will have had eight more games under his belt, and the Tigers will be coming off a bye week. The Tide get a bye in the same spot, but will be coming off five straight SEC contests. LSU? One. If the Bayou Bengals' offense has even the faintest pulse, and Bama doesn't knock out LSU's starting QB and RB again, then look for the Tigers to pull off the win at home. (ps. Hello. Besides an interesting game, Fl. v. Al. means less than you think, as they're both likely to make the SEC Championship game again, whatever the outcome of this game. It perhaps means more to 'bama, as the West will be tougher again in 2010. But not more than LSU v. 'bama, which likely will be an eliminator.)
Barrett Sallee - Florida at Alabama - October 2, 2010
These two teams square off in the regular season for the first time since 2006 after meeting in the Georgia Dome the previous two seasons. A month into the season, Florida should have their personnel issues squared away after losing a ton of players off the 2009 team due to graduation and the NFL. Meanwhile, Alabama will surely be chugging right along en route to another solid season under Nick Saban. Don't be surprised if this is the first of two meetings between these two teams in 2010.
SEC OUT-OF-CONFERENCE GAME OF THE YEAR
Billy Gomila - LSU vs. North Carolina – September 4, 2010
LSU will be in the spotlight early, with a prime-time opener in the Georgia Dome against a Tarheel squad that returns a lot of talent and experience. A win would start the process of, uh, regruntle-ing a disgruntled fan base. An ugly loss will be another shovel burying Miles.
Brian Harbach - Georgia at Colorado – October 2, 2010
There are a number of great SEC out-of-conference games this year, but none may come at a more important time than Georgia's trip to Boulder the first week of October. This game will be UGA's third road trip in five weeks; and it will be following games at South Carolina, Arkansas and at Mississippi State. It is a must win for the Bulldogs, and Colorado coach Dan Hawkins needs a win against UGA to save his job. With two weeks to prepare for UGA, the Buffalos will be ready. This is a huge game for Richt and should be exciting to watch.
Gabe Harris - Penn State at Alabama – September 11, 2010
One of the great non-conference series returns for the first time since 1990. Alabama will almost certainly ranked No. 1 heading into this game, while Penn State will be retooling after losing QB Daryll Clark and a couple of underclassmen on defense. Even so, the Nittany Lions will likely be ranked, and even if they aren't, the sight of these two teams on the same field again will surely get the college football world talking.
Russ Mitchell - Penn State at Alabama – September 11, 2010
This is a bit of a rebuilding year for Penn State, but come on – you gotta love this! Nicky v. JoPa! The South v. the North! Smashmouth defense v… The South v. the North! Forget that PSU will be lucky to get 200 yards of offense, Saban will play this one close to the vest, as he typically does in games like this. If the Lions have a pulse, which they will, his Tide will grind out an impressive, if unspectacular, 10 point victory. And the South will rise again! ;) (Note: Expect to hear the retread, warmed-up rumor about Saban stepping in once Joe retires. Highly unlikely, we think. Just saying – expect to hear another go'round come September.)
Barrett Sallee - Penn State at Alabama - September 11, 2009
Two of the most storied teams in college football will meet for the first time since completing a 10-year series in 1990. Alabama leads the overall series 8-5, which included a 14-7 Alabama victory in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, earning the Crimson Tide the 1978 national championship. These two teams will most certainly be nationally-ranked, and squarely in the mix for the national championship. SEC proponents may try to play down this game, considering that Penn State hails from the much-maligned Big 10. But don't be fooled, this game is sure to be one of the most-hyped and discussed non-conference games in the nation in 2010.
SEC EAST CHAMPION
Billy Gomila - Florida
Has an entire division ever been rebuilding before? Every team in the East either has a new quarterback, or a bad one. Florida has enough talent coming back that even if John Brantley falls short of his considerable expectations, it should be enough to get the Gators back to Atlanta, at the minimum.
Brian Harbach - Florida
The East is extremely weak this year and Florida has the most talent of any team in the division. The schedule is manageable…they get Tennessee early, South Carolina at home and UGA is still being punished for the stomping incident. They do play Alabama and LSU from the West but they should be able to run through the East with John Brantley and the other offensive weapons with little trouble.
Gabe Harris - Florida
For once in what seems like years, the SEC East will be wide open. Florida will take a step back while Tennessee and Georgia should be improved. Not to mention that South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Kentucky are as strong collectively as this group has been in years. But no team outside of Florida-Tennessee-Georgia has won this division and Florida has won it three out of the last four years. I don't see that changing just yet and Florida will have just enough to squeak in for the third straight year.
Russ Mitchell - Florida
But only because there's nobody else. In case you missed it, the West beat the East last year head-to-head for one of the few times this decade. Look for a repeat of that in 2010. There's just too much uncertainty at Tennessee to realistically pick them. Georgia is down and rebuilding. There's change at Kentucky. And it's Kentucky. Did we mention the OLD Ball Coach. And then there was Vandy. Yet shoot, we don't even know who the COACH of Florida will be next year. Yes, they have scary-sick talent down in the swamp. But the Gators haven't seen a leader the likes of Tim Tebow… Ever. There's going to be an adjustment phase; things aren't just going to move along seamlessly. Not to mention all the other starters checking out for the NFL. And then there's that coach thing again… Something about health issues… Still, with no other teams in the East sporting this depth: Edge Gators.
Barrett Sallee - Florida
I'd like to pick another team, because I do think that Florida comes back to the pack quite a bit under first-year/interim/maybe not the head coach Steve Addazio. The mass exodus from Gainesville this off-season will probably push the Gators out of the BCS Championship Game mix, but there is still enough talent in the cupboard to get them back to Georgia Dome. South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee will all likely be in the mix for the division title late in the regular season too, so don't be surprised to see the Gators drop a few games before traveling to Atlanta.
SEC WEST CHAMPION
Billy Gomila - Alabama
They seemed to have pulled away from the rest of the division. LSU has to break back into prime time, Arkansas has to find an offensive line and defense, Auburn is still trying to stockpile talent, and neither Mississippi school has a quarterback. The Tide's only questions are complacency and replacing some battle-tested veterans along the offensive line and defensive back seven.
Brian Harbach - Alabama
Last year the defense for the Crimson Tide was downright scary and this year it will once again be formidable but the offense is what the rest of the SEC needs to be worried about right now. Returning stars QB Greg McElroy, RB's Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson along with WR Julio Jones could make this an elite offense in the country next season. For all the reasons we liked Alabama to win last year based on defense, the offense deserves that same pub this year.
Gabe Harris - Alabama
The defending national champions return with most of their key players intact and no one else in the SEC West has enough yet. Auburn and Arkansas are rising while LSU can beat anyone if they play a complete game but there are enough flaws below Alabama that leads me to believe they will coast to Atlanta for the third straight year even if they don't finish the season undefeated.
Russ Mitchell - Alabama
Who challenges them? We mean, legitimately challenges them? The only thing that stops the Tide in 2010 is a mid-season injury to Greg McElroy. Spectacular in the SEC Championship Game, the incoming senior QB was at best average for much of 2009, while receiving nearly all of the first-team snaps. For those who think Alabama's offense has been one dimensional since Saban arrived, insert freshman A.J. McCarron (or an inexperienced Star Jackson) midway through conference play, and check out the run/pass ratio after that. Minus a McElroy injury, 'Bama has already proven it can march undefeated with the bulk of this corps, and no one else in the West appears to improve enough this off-season to catch up.
Barrett Sallee - Alabama
The Crimson Tide train will keep rolling along in 2010. However, with home games vs. Florida and Penn State and road tests with LSU and Arkansas on the docket, I don't see the Crimson Tide rolling into Atlanta with an unblemished regular season record for the third straight year. A solid running game with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson will again be the lynchpin of the Crimson Tide, as they take home the SEC West title yet again.
SEC CHAMPION (which, let's be honest, might as well be called the National Championship Invitational)
Billy Gomila - Alabama
I'm not prepared to anoint the Tide national champs again. Misfortune is bound to strike sooner or later, making a loss or two is conceivable and I'm expecting there to be some national backlash to the SEC as well – the conference won't get the benefit of the doubt forever. But they still return as much or more talent as anybody else in the league.
Brian Harbach - Alabama
It is pretty great that we get to watch this game twice in 2010, the fourth time in three years, but Alabama deserves the edge in both matchups this season. SEC Championship game rematches tend to go the way of the first winner and if you are taking Alabama in the regular season it makes sense to go with them again in the SEC Championship game.
Gabe Harris - Alabama
Too much talent returning and too many questions for all of the other teams in the conference to pick anyone else.
Russ Mitchell - Alabama
If Florida played Alabama in The Swamp next year, 'Bama would beat them. In Hotlanta, it'll be easier. Bama's going to be better in 2010. Florida? At best, even. The only thing that would stop the Tide would be complacency, which isn't a word in Saban's vocabulary. That and the injury to McElroy.
Barrett Sallee - Alabama
It's simple really – Alabama will get slightly better or, at the very worst, stay on the same level that they were at in 2009. Florida, on the other hand, will see tremendous drop-off. But since these two teams do meet in the regular season, the SEC Championship Game will depend on what each team learned the first go 'round, and what adjustments will be made. In that case, you have to bet on Nick Saban. Alabama wins the SEC and goes on to face either Boise State (yes, seriously) or Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game.
- Click here to read SEC Bloggers: 2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 1
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