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Hobbs: Tigers and Gamecocks headed to Atlanta?

Last Modified: Saturday, August 25, 2012 5:17 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

Hang in there. Less than one more week and college football’s silly season — August — will be over.

It can’t get here fast enough to make up for all the useless predictions and rankings, the ratings, projections and listings that litter the August landscape.

But it’s a start.

The funny thing is that people fall for them year after year, no matter how useless they look even before September is done. They not only fall for them, they sound so good they use them for bragging rights or anguish and bicker about this slight or that.

After all, everything seems so neat and tidy in August.

That’s my problem doing the prediction thing. I never could make myself sound authoritative enough to make a prediction matter since I’m usually giggling through the absurdity of it.

But I’ll play along again. I’ll get into my deepest, most serious, furrowed-brow voice to take you through a genuinely authoritative tour of the way the SEC race will end this season.

We’ll start at the bottom of each division, beginning with the east, where there’s more top-to-almost-bottom parity but not the power at the top like in the West.

7. Kentucky — The Wildcats are suffering the most from Vanderbilt’s breath-taking rise to mediocrity. Not sure who they can beat on their conference schedule now. Sadly, the Cats do not play Ole Miss, which could settle the who’s-worst question once and for all. But the basketball team will surely be good again.

6. Vanderbilt — This is the trouble with playing in the SEC. You can give the culture a complete makeover, upgrade the recruiting, live in the weight room, gain some confidence and give a walk-on a scholarship on a viral You Tube segment. And you still might only move up one spot. But Vanderbilt really is a lot better and might well finish higher in the West, which is supposed to be tougher. Either that, or last year new head coach James didn’t realize he was at Vanderbilt.

5. Tennessee — A lot of this isn’t coach Derek Dooley’s fault, but the Vol fans are restless anyway over the mess the program has become. They have a chance to be good on offense even without yet another suspension to a star (Da’Rick Rogers, one of the SEC’s best receivers), but defense rules this league.

4. Florida — The Gators will probably be better, but right now it just seems like ... what? ... an incomplete team? Maybe an awkward team with a lot of five-star pieces that just don’t seem to fit into a team puzzle. Or maybe that’s over-analyzing, thinking too deeply on what is really a simple sport. But coach Will Muschamp first has to figure out what this team is before he can build on whatever personality emerges. It also wouldn’t hurt to figure out who his quarterback is.

3. Missouri — I like the Tigers’ approach to joining the SEC. While Texas A&M has been fairly deferring while saying all the right things, Mizzou’s attitude about jumping into this physical mosh pit seems to be, “Oooooo, we sooooo sccccaaaaaared.” It almost seems like they’re saying, hey, it’s just a football game, not like, you know, life or death. That will be quite a shock to the SEC’s system, but the Tigers are also better than you think they are.

2. Georgia — Going against the grain here, but anytime you pick a team to win a division based on having an easier schedule, you’re dealing with fool’s gold. Unless you picked Georgia to win the East on that last year, which is exactly how the Dawgs did it. The football gods won’t let that happen two years in a row and also ...

1. South Carolina —The Gamecocks are just better, even with a far tougher schedule that includes both LSU and Arkansas (Georgia plays neither and also avoids Alabama). It also way fun to watch Steve Spurrier win with defense and a strong running game.

OK, now the West.

7. Ole Miss — The Rebels will likely be the worst team in the SEC again, but will surely upgrade from last year’s worst SEC team I ever saw, if only because they won’t have Houston Nutt to quit on this season. Still, new coach Hugh Freeze has his work cut out for him.

6. Mississippi State — The Bulldogs are making noise again about being much better. And they will be, I guess. Just not good enough to be a factor. They do own Mississippi at the moment, however.

5. Auburn — I could be wrong on this one. You never know with Auburn. But anytime it takes this long to figure out who our quarterback is, it usually means you don’t really have one. And Auburn really needs one (see Newton, Cam).

4. Texas A&M — New coach Kevin Sumlin will bring a Big 12 team with a Conference USA offense into the fray against the salivating defenses of the SEC. Hey, works for me. But the Aggies figure to win a few games that surprise you.

3. Arkansas — If the Razorbacks don’t win the SEC as every good Hog fan fully expects, it won’t be because Bobby Petrino rode his motorcycle off into the sunset (with a gossipy side stop in the ditch). John L. Smith will be fine and pass the audition. If they do win the SEC it won’t be because both the Alabama and LSU games are in Fayetteville. The Razorback defense will or won’t be better and that will be the deal-maker or breaker.

2. Alabama — OK, I flipped a coin. I’m not really smart enough to figure out in August how losing over half their starting defense will affect the Tide or losing its only Honey Badger will affect LSU. But it won’t be enough to keep them from being the best two teams in the SEC — while still refreshingly capable of dropping a game to someone other than each other.

1. LSU — Keep in Mind, last year the feeling was that LSU was a year away from being REALLY good. Wouldn’t surprise me. As much as the new quarterback, it’s the returners on both lines that give the Tigers the edge.

Anyway, for what it's worth in August, that makes LSU the de facto SEC champion.

•••

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

Posted By: Craig On: 8/27/2012

Title: Ugly,

The throw-backs last year were bad enough. "If it ain't broke".

Posted By: bammeyland On: 8/26/2012

Title: Ugly Helmet

That is one UGLY helmet in the photo. The Geaux font is bad enough. But don't mess with the Tiger head, especially replacing it with that silly looking Toonces head!!

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