Friday, August 17, 2007
Tigers will have the biggest SEC bite in 2007
By Mark Schlabach ESPN.com
Peering into the crystal ball revealed the following five predictions for the 2007 SEC season:
1. Florida won't repeat as national champion (or SEC East champion)
The defending national champion just has too many holes to fill on defense. Replacing the heart of the defense -- tackles Ray McDonald and Joe Cohen, middle linebacker Brandon Siler and free safety Reggie Nelson -- will be too difficult for co-coordinators Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong to overcome. The Gators take a step back in 2007, before jumping forward in a big way in 2008 and 2009.
Les Miles' team looks primed to play for the national title.
2. LSU will play USC in the BCS championship game
Tigers coach Les Miles will get his wish with a date against the Trojans in the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship Game in the Louisiana Superdome. After USC easily defeats the Tigers in front of LSU's home crowd, Miles will leave to become head coach at Michigan, replacing Lloyd Carr, who will retire after winning the Rose Bowl (and, of course, losing to Ohio State).
3. Nick Saban loses to LSU (but beats Auburn)
Saban's first season at Alabama will be a successful one, but the Crimson Tide won't come close to catching LSU in the SEC West. Alabama will lose twice in September and to LSU in November, but Saban will win the two games that matter most to Crimson Tide fans -- against Tennessee and Auburn.
4. The Egg Bowl loser gets poached
Ole Miss and Mississippi State will continue to struggle, and both will have losing records going into the Nov. 23 Egg Bowl in Starkville, Miss. Rebels coach Ed Orgeron and Bulldogs coach Sly Croom will be under intense pressure, but the winner of the game will buy himself another year. The loser gets a pink slip.
5. The SEC East champion will have two losses
Only three times in the last 15 years has the SEC East champion had more than one loss. That number should increase. Kentucky and Vanderbilt will each upset at least one of the other four teams in the division -- and possibly more -- causing havoc in the East. LSU will defeat either Georgia or Tennessee in the SEC championship game in the Georgia Dome, possibly opening the door for Arkansas to receive a BCS at-large berth, along with the unbeaten Tigers.
Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com.