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SEC West College Football Conference Preview with Predictions
The SEC West is the most dominant division in the most dominant conference in all of college football. Its members are Alabama, LSU, Araknsas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Auburn. All are formidable opponents. There is a high probability that the winner of this division will play in the BCS Championship. Let's take a look at the chances of each team to compete for the SEC West crown.
Alabama Crimson Tide - The 2009 BCS Champions experienced a bit of a hangover while finishing 10-3 last year. That's saying something as most fans would love for their team to go 10-3 and crush Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl. This year's team brings back 10 starters on defense and will own the best defense in the entire nation. Robert Lester and Mark Barron make up the best 1-2 combination at S in the entire nation. On the other side of the ball AJ McCarron takes over at QB. The sophomore has looked good in limited play, but its tough to say how he will perform as the starter. If he succeeds the Tide will make an extremely formidable force in HC Nick Saban's quest for another BCS Title.
LSU Tigers - Les Miles's team went 11-2 last year and gets back 15 starters from that team. The QB Jordan Jefferson is the starter, but let's face it, his skills have always been limited. If he starts to struggle backup Zach Mettenberger will grab the reigns. The UGA transfer has a very strong arm and had a 32-4 ratio at JC last year. The season opener at Oregon will decide their BCS Title hopes and set the tone of the rest of the year. Make no mistake, this is an exceptional team despite less talented players on offense.
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Arkansas Razorbacks - HC Bobby Petrino has worked miracles in Little Rock, AR. In just a matter of a few years he took them from a losing record to a 10-3 finish and BCS Bowl appearance. Petrin gets back 6 starters on offense and 7 on defense. The most notable returnee is RB Knile Davis. The junior rushed 1,332 yards and 13 TDs last year while only getting significant carries (14+) in 6 games. He is one to watch for the Heisman. Tyler Wilson takes over at QB and looks fully ready to run Petrino's system. The Razorbacks have the best group of WRs in the nation thanks to Greg Childs, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams. The big difference in this and last year's Arkansas team is a VERY improved defense. Leading tackler Jerry Franklin is back at MLB as is leading sacker DE Jake Bequette. This team is a dark horse contender for the BCS Title.
Mississippi State Bulldogs - In 2010 HC Dan Mullen had the Bulldogs ranked at the end of the year for the first time since 2001. He gets back 9 starters on offense from that 9-4 team and 7 on defense. RB Vick Ballard will be the key cog on offense as he racked up 968 yards and 19 TDs last year. QB Chris Relf was effective with 13 TD passes and 6 INTs for a total of 1,769 passing yards. The secondary is the most experienced in the country and one of the best in the SEC. A tough schedule has them playing at Auburn, Georgia and Arkansas with home games against Alabama, LSU and South Carolina.
Ole Miss Rebels - HC Houston Nutt's team recorded a forgettable 4-8 record last year and 9 starters are back on offense and 4 on defense from that team. A home opener against BYU will be key to set the tone for the year. Back-to-back-back games against Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn could undue their season. There are reasons to be happy though. The offensive line is one of the best in the SEC and RB Brandon Bolden is back after rushing for 1,028 yards and 14 TDs last year.
Auburn Tigers - Last year's team was one for the ages, but HC Gene Chizik will have tom manage expectations this year. He gets back just 3 starters on each side of the ball and his two biggest stars, Cam Newton and Nick Fairley are gone. As they defending BCS Champ they will get every teams best shot. Last year Texas went from being in the BCS Title Game to a 5-7 record. The Tigers fate could be similar if their talented youngsters don't grow up very fast.
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