2009 SEC forecast (Cotton Bowl barometer)

If you want an early indication about the SEC Championship race in 2009 then you should watch the Cotton Bowl as Texas Tech battles surging Ole Miss. The Rebels finished 8-4 and second in the SEC West. The Rebels also have the best returning starter at quarterback in the division—Jevan Snead.

Snead averaged 205 yards per game, was third in pass efficiency (ending behind Tim Tebow and Matthew Stafford—the two best QBs in the conference.) Snead threw for 2,470 total yards on the season with 23 touchdowns.

If you look at the SEC and project Stafford heading to the NFL and Tebow staying at Florida, Ole Miss easily has the second best quarterback in the conference heading into 2009.

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In the SEC East, the quarterback chaos continued at South Carolina and it shows no signs of abating in 2009. Georgia will be good, but the loss of Stafford would be a serious setback if the quarterback heads to the NFL (as expected.) Tennessee won’t challenge for the division. That leaves Florida, and I expect Tebow to return. A Tebow led Florida team should easily march to Atlanta representing the East.

2008 was the year of the horrible quarterback in the conference. Outside of Tebow, Stafford and Snead only one other quarterback exceeded expectations and that was Alabama’s senior quarterback John Parker Wilson. Wilson is gone. Arkansas’s Casey Dick is gone. The train wreck at LSU should improve next year, but how that unfolds we won’t know until after Spring and Fall camps. Auburn’s QB situation should improve with a new QB coach to help Kodi Burns—let’s just say it won’t get worse on the Plains and could get substantially better.

The biggest battle could be in the SEC West as Ole Miss retains its quarterback and Alabama is forced to replace its senior leader.

That is why the Cotton Bowl could be such a major indicator of the Rebels viability. Bowl games aren’t perfect predictors of the future, but they can provide some guidance heading into the spring.

First, how will the Ole Miss defense respond against the Texas Tech passing game? Second, can the Rebels reduce their turnovers and play consistently against top level competition? Third, how does Houston Nutt and the players handle the increased attention and expectations?

This year’s Cotton Bowl could be a barometer for how the 2009 SEC race unfolds. I know it will be one game I keep an eye.


Add Yours
  1. 1

    I would think that Texas Tech would be disappointed to have to play an 8-4 SEC team while they have one loss. Ole Miss should be amped up for this game, considering where they have been.

  2. 2

    I agree Brando. It seems like every year there are a couple of bowl games where a team gets completely screwed into playing in a bowl that is beneath their season’s performance, and they get a lousy attitude as a result, and then go in and get smoked by a lesser team who is fired up to play them. Wisconsin beat the crap out of Auburn in the Cap One Bowl in 05 under those circumstances. TT better look out, because Ole Miss looked strong as a bull by the end of the season.

  3. 3
    Dave(not that one, the other one)

    Ole Miss has a pretty decent D, I would think Greg Hardy would put it all on the line to try and up his draft status.

    As far as ’09 goes, i expect Ole Miss to win the west based on QB experience alone.

  4. 4

    Ole miss has a better defense than TT has played all year.
    Converesly, I dont think that TT’s defense is that great. Should be a good game…
    Look for Nutt to put it all in play…

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