Alabama will be better than Auburn. At least if you believe the experts (gamblers). Covers.com released its SEC West predictions with LSU at the top followed by Alabama and Auburn.
Covers.com predicts LSU winning the west with a record of 12-0. Alabama runner-up with a record of 9-3, and Auburn in third with a record of 8-4.
How do I see the SEC West?
I see the SEC West in a very similar fashion. In the Crimson & White Roundtable this week, I predicted Alabama would be an underdog in possibly six games. I also wrote Alabama would have a solid chance at an upset of Auburn. And I believe that. But I’ll also tell you I can easily see Alabama with three losses on the season: Georgia (the team I think will win the East), LSU and Auburn. And you could easily add in another one or two if the defense doesn’t perform.
With all that considered, I believe the race breaks down this way:
The LSU Tigers will not go undefeated, and they will not win the SEC. However, they have the best chance at doing all that and going to Atlanta from the SEC West. And wow. That schedule is perfect for the Tigers to make a strong national title push. They get the two toughest conference games at home: Auburn and Florida (The Tigers also have a tough out of conference game Va. Tech at home.) The conference road games include: Miss State, Kentucky, Alabama and Ole Miss. I’d take that road schedule. The hardest game should be Alabama, and the Tide hasn’t been particularly good at home over the last decade. The only question mark for the Tigers is Les Miles. My guess is he’ll screw up at least one game this year.
As I said in the Roundtable, Auburn is hurting at special teams, and I’m not convinced the defensive coordinator fits with Tommy Tuberville. Muschamp may be good, but I don’t think he is clicking with the head coach. Questionable special teams and problems on the defense will make Auburn have a tough time, especially on the road. I see losses to Georgia, LSU and Florida on the horizon.
Alabama will be better. Much better. However, a lot hangs on the Sept. 15 game against Arkansas in Tuscaloosa. If the Tide fails in its first true test, then Saban will have his hands full trying to right the ship. It faces Georgia the next week (a loss) and FSU the following week. FSU is winnable; however, going into the game with a two-loss skid would make it that much harder. If Alabama stays healthy, it could finish 9-3. I think that is a reasonable expectation, provided the offensive and defensive lines mature. We won’t know about that until the regular season arrives.
Arkansas is the model for everything that is wrong in college football. The coach has a respectable year, and the fans want to fire him because some spoiled brat freshmen and their parents are upset the Razorbacks didn’t run a passing offense. Never mind the fact that Arkansas has one of the best backs around in Darren McFadden. McFadden already has Herschel Walker type numbers, and a strong 2007 season could put him into that elite company. Houston Nutt is not a bad coach, but Arkansas fans are bad fans for siding with spoiled brats.
What can you say about the Mississippi teams. I had lunch last week with an MSU graduate, and he was happy with the direction of the program under Sly Croom. His goal is for the football team to rise to the level of the basketball program. Specifically, he expects to win every home basketball game, and wants the same from the football program. If you win your home games, and steal one big game on the road, then it probably would be a good season for Croom and the Bulldogs. This year, MSU has LSU, Auburn, West Virginia and Alabama at home. I think they’ll lose all those games.
6. Ole Miss
Ed Orgeron says his team’s goal is to go to the Sugar Bowl and win it. Talk about delusional. Ole Miss will be lucky to finish in fifth instead of sixth place in the division. I can’t see much positive for the Rebels. They have a QB controversy. They get to play Florida, Georgia, LSU, Auburn and Alabama along with Arkansas. Brutal.
How would you rank the West Race? Comments are open.