Monday, August 27, 2012
SEC fearless predictions for 2012
By Edward Aschoff and Chris Low
We all know that there is more to football than just big dudes smashing into each other.
Sure, they provide most of the entertainment, but you can't have a college football season without some fearless predictions to start the year off with. Yes, us media folk are allowed a little fun and some of the attention.
Last year, fellow SEC blogger Chris Low and I split our predictions up, as we came up with 10 each that can be viewed here and here. This year, we're cleaning things up and creating just one list of 10 SEC predictions for the 2012 season.
We both had are share of hits and misses last year. I only got one of my 10 predictions correct when I said that Chris Rainey would score touchdowns three different ways. I crossed that off Week 1. Some I missed on were predicting that the Heisman trophy would stay in the SEC, Brandon Bolden finally getting 1,000 rushing yards, Zach Mettenberger having more touchdowns than Jarrett Lee and the SEC sending 10 teams bowling.
I was pretty close with my prediction that Morris Claiborne would lead the SEC in interceptions and Tyrann Mathieu would lead in defensive touchdowns. Claiborne was third with six, while Mathieu finished with four total touchdowns with two being defensive.
However, Chris showed his veteran ability and hit on seven of his 10. He really is a showoff. But he did whiff on Spencer Ware rushing for 1,200 yards. Ware only got 707 yards.
Enough of the walk down memory lane, here are our 10 fearless predictions for 2012:
1. The SEC will make it seven in a row: This is starting to become the surest bet in college football. The only thing that changes is the team and the year. And who knows? The team might not change this season. Alabama is trying to become the first outright repeat national champion since Nebraska in 1994 and 1995. We won’t go as far as to predict an Alabama repeat, but that crystal trophy will stay right where it’s been the last six years -- somewhere on an SEC campus.
2. Arkansas will beat either Alabama or LSU: Despite becoming relevant nationally again and joining the SEC’s elite along the way, Arkansas is just 1-5 against Alabama and LSU the last three years. The Hogs get both teams in Fayetteville this season and will knock off at least one of the West kingpins on their way to a third straight season of 10 or more wins.
3. Marcus Lattimore, Knile Davis and Christine Michael will all eclipse 1,200 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns: They are all coming off of season-ending injuries, but they should all be 100 percent when they suit up this fall. We could have quite the running back battle on our hands this fall, as all three are the complete package when it comes to running back. They're big, fast, agile and aren't afraid to punch defenders right in the mouth. For the first time since 2009, the SEC will have at least three backs breaks 1,200 yards.
4. T.J. Yeldon will lead Alabama in all-purpose yards: The true freshman running back enjoyed quite the spring and just continues to impress Alabama's coaches. While Eddie Lacy is the starter, Yeldon has the talent to eat into his carries, and he'll be used in the passing game, where he's just as dangerous. Lacy has always had issues with staying healthy, so Yeldon has to be ready to see solid playing time this fall.
5. Jadeveon Clowney will lead the SEC in sacks: He enjoyed a fine debut in 2011, but more is expected from Clowney. Now that he's comfortable in South Carolina's defense, the coaches having him lining up all over the field. He'll now have more opportunities to harass quarterbacks. It helps that Devin Taylor will help take some of the attention at the other end position. Georgia's Jarvis Jones might be the league's best pass rusher, but he'll be dethroned by the extremely fast, athletic and terrifying Clowney this fall.
6. The SEC’s All-Dismissal Team would be unbeaten if there were such a league: Take a long look at those players in the SEC who’ve been sent packing since the end of last season. LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu, Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell, Tennessee’s Da’Rick Rogers, Auburn’s Michael Dyer and Ole Miss’ Nickolas Brassell were all marquee players in this league with NFL potential. Now, they’re players with baggage trying to salvage their careers elsewhere.
7. Randall Mackey will score three different ways for Ole Miss: Mackey has enjoyed playing three different positions this year. He started at quarterback before moving to wide receiver and is now at running back. The coaches have a few packages for the very versatile Mackey. He'll have the opportunity to rush for a touchdown, catch one and throw one as the Wildcat QB -- and he'll do all three.
8. Zach Mettenberger will throw as many touchdown passes by the middle of October as Jordan Jefferson did his last two seasons combined: For the record, Jefferson threw six touchdown passes last season and seven in 2010 for a total of 13 in 23 career games. The Tigers insist they’re going to open up their passing game with Mettenberger pulling the trigger, and they should. He gives them a chance to really spread defenses out with his ability to throw the ball down the field and generate big plays in the passing game.
9. Vanderbilt will make it to back-to-back bowls for the first time ... ever: This team is no longer a pushover and while the Commodores won't sneak up on anyone this fall, enough talent returns that Vandy will win at least six games yet again. The Commodores will have to sweep their tougher nonconference slate, and should add at least two SEC wins. That will get Vandy bowling in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.
10. Ohio State will lose again to the SEC in a bowl game: Oops, my bad. Ohio State is being sanctioned and ineligible to go to a bowl game this season. But if the Buckeyes weren’t in the NCAA’s jailhouse, you could bet they’d find a way to lose to an SEC team. It’s a time-honored tradition … even with Urban Meyer calling the shots in Columbus.