Tuesday, August 6, 2013

2013 SEC Preview

2013 Predicted Standings

SEC East
1.  South Carolina Gamecocks  (7-1, 11-2)
2.  Georgia Bulldogs  (6-2, 9-3)
3.  Florida Gators  (5-3, 8-4)
4.  Vanderbilt Commodores  (4-4, 8-4)
5.  Missouri Tigers  (2-6, 6-6)
6.  Tennessee Volunteers  (2-6, 5-7)
7.  Kentucky Wildcats  (0-8, 2-10)

SEC West
1.  Texas A&M Aggies  (8-0, 13-0)
2.  Alabama Crimson Tide  (7-1, 11-1)
3.  Ole Miss Rebels  (5-3, 8-4)
4.  LSU Tigers  (4-4, 8-4)
5.  Auburn Tigers  (3-5, 7-5)
6.  Mississippi State Tigers  (2-6, 5-7)
7.  Arkansas Razorbacks  (1-7, 5-7)

SEC Championship Game:  Texas A&M Aggies over South Carolina Gamecocks

Johnny "Football" quiets the critics - Much has been made of the off-season of returning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.  The consensus is that it will have a negative impact on his upcoming season.  I am not buying it.  Manziel is one of those rare players who has the "it" factor and while he might have made every stop along the party circuit thus far in 2013, there is no evidence that he will not be the same quarterback we last saw thrashing the Oklahoma defense.  In fact, he lit up the A&M Spring Game and looked more polished then the 2012 version of Johnny "Football".  Add in a deep stable of backs, 4 returning offensive line starters and go-to receiver Mike Evans and the Aggies offense looks downright scary.  The defense will have to be good in most games and be better than good against Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU and potentially against the SEC East Champion.

As I stated, I think Johnny Manziel is one of those transcending players that you will end up telling your children about and the final step of his legend will be leading the Aggies to the National Title in 2013.  Yes, Texas A&M is the Jabesblog pick for 2013.

What??  Not Alabama?? - The Crimson Tide are the consensus pre-season #1 and for good reason.  3 Titles in 4 years will earn you that honor.  The 2013 version of the Tide is going to be very, very talented and very, very good once again.  Nick Saban said it himself though, the SEC Media is 4 for its last 17 in picking the SEC Champions.  Alabama has a huge target on its back and now has a new nemesis to join LSU in A&M and Manziel.  Here are my concerns with the Tide...1.  They were able to lose a game each of the last two seasons and still make the Championship Game.  I am not sure this team will be as good as the last two and their luck of getting in with one loss is bound to run out.  2.  They lost a ton of experience and talent along the offensive line in Jones, Warmack and Fluker.  I think its easier to plug defensive holes with highly-touted recruits than along the offensive line.  The early games against Virginia Tech and Texas A&M will test this theory immediately.  3.  The A&M game is in College Station and outside of the former annual Texas games, there hasn't been a bigger game to hit there in a long time.  The "12th Man" will be rocking on September 14th.

Georgia Disappoints - Coming off an "almost" in the SEC Title game, Georgia is expected to have a potentially special season in 2013.  The more I looked at it though, the Bulldogs season is going to go one of two ways.  Only 2 starters return on defense and while there is talent to step-in typical of that of an SEC-power, the defense will have to have a quick learning curve.  Georgia opens the season at Clemson and hosts South Carolina in its first two games.  These are not the opponents I would want to break in 9 new defensive starters against.  Maybe the Dawgs offense can carry them through, but I can't get the 35-7 result against the Gamecocks last year out of my head...and that was with Jones, Ogletree, Geathers, Rambo, et al.  I have Georgia starting 0-2 and recovering for a "nice" season due to a pretty forgiving schedule afterwards.  If they do survive the first two weeks at 2-0, that schedule will thrust them into National Title Consideration.

Quick Hits:
  • Florida has a lot of defensive talent to replace and I am not sold on Jeff Driskill.  The Gators had a lot of close calls in 2012 and I don't think 2013 will be as forgiving.
  • LSU at 8-4, 4-4 seems like a bold prediction, but for a team replacing a lot of defensive talent and a quarterback who seems more mediocre than anything, maybe it is not too far-fetched.  Road games at Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama are supplemented with a neutral site game against TCU and home dates with Florida and Texas A&M.  I have the Tigers 2-4 in those games.
  • Auburn is back (kind of).  After an 0-8 SEC record a year ago, I think the Tigers will bounce back to play in a bowl in 2013.  Gus Malzhan is an offensive guru and will find a quarterback to work his system.
  • Don't sleep on Ole Miss.  They return Bo Wallace at quarterback and add a highly-rated recruiting class to the mix.  The Rebels are going to be no fun to play this year. 
Best Non-Conference Schedule:  Florida.  The Gators play a good Toledo team, travel to Miami FL and host Florida State.  Georgia Southern is their FCS opponent.

Worst Non-Conference Schedule:  Vanderbilt.  Wake Forest is the marquee name and the Demon Deacons will not be very good this year.  Austin Peay, UMass and UAB are the others.

Thank You SEC Schedule:  Alabama.  Tennessee and Kentucky are their cross-over games.  LSU and Ole Miss come to Tuscaloosa.

Curse You SEC Schedule:  Arkansas.  A 4-week stretch goes Texas A&M, at Florida, South Carolina, at Alabama.  They also play at Ole Miss and LSU.  Good luck Bret Beilema.

Best Player:  Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina.  Manziel, A.J. McCarron and Aaron Murray form a pretty formidable race for top quarterback, but Clowney is the most dominant.

Best Newcomer:  Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss.  The younger Nkemdiche should have an immediate impact on the Rebels defense.

Weekly Games to Watch
Aug 31 - LSU vs TCU (Arlington, TX)...A tough test for the Tigers out of the gate.  Zach Mettenberger must produce immediately.

Sept 7-  South Carolina at Georgia...The Gators may beg to differ, but I will call this the SEC East Championship Game.

Sept 14 - Alabama at Texas A&M...The Game of the Year in College Football, I will call this one a BCS Semifinal.

Sept 21 - Missouri at Indiana...The Tigers bowl-eligibility may hinge on whether they can win on the road against an improved Hoosier team.

Sept 28 - LSU at Georgia...The best of the cross-over games in 2013 and why Les Miles and Nick Saban are at odds.  LSU gets Florida and Georgia, Alabama gets Kentucky and Tennessee.

Oct 5 - Ole Miss at Auburn...Interesting match-up between two teams who should be better in 2013.

Oct 12 - Texas A&M at Ole Miss...The Aggies prevailed by 3 points a year ago.  This could be the game that puts the Rebels on the map.

Oct 19 - Georgia at Vanderbilt...The Commodores deserve mention somewhere on this page.  A solid but unspectacular team, this is their best shot at a major upset.

Oct 26 - Tennessee at Alabama...A light schedule for the SEC on this day, so we check to see whether Butch Jones has the Vols headed in the right direction.

Nov 2 - Florida vs Georgia...The annual "Cocktail Party" has had higher stakes in recent years.

Nov 9 - LSU at Alabama...More often than not, this one lives up to the hype.

Nov 16 - Florida at South Carolina...If the Gators can find some offense this season, this game might be very meaningful.

Nov 23 - Texas A&M at LSU...If the Aggies beat Alabama, many would point toward this game as the one to trip them up.  My guess would be that LSU wants this one at night.

Nov 30 - Clemson at South Carolina...Depending on how things fall, this game could have National Title implications.

Dec 7 - SEC Championship Game...Winner likely will play for National Championship

Bowl Line-Up
BCS National Championship Game:  Texas A&M Aggies
BCS Sugar Bowl:  Alabama Crimson Tide
Capital One Bowl:  South Carolina Gamecocks
Cotton Bowl:  LSU Tigers
Outback Bowl:  Georgia Bulldogs
Chick Fil-A Bowl:  Ole Miss Rebels
Gator Bowl:  Florida Gators
Music City Bowl:  Auburn Tigers
Liberty Bowl:  Vanderbilt Commodores
Advocare V100 Bowl:  Missouri Tigers

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