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SEX sells. SEC sells too.
Since the inception of the BCS format in 1998, the SEC is batting 1.000 when the crystal football is on the line. The conference is six for six and in the midst of four straight BCS titles.
This helps the sale of SEC to the masses.
The media fascination/obsession with SEC may force some to throw up in their mouth a little bit. However, their fixation on the Southeastern portion of college football's landscape isn't only tied to wins, losses and championships.
The conference has a vast array of coaching personalities. Nick Saban plays the "too cool for school card" because he can. Urban Meyer plays (and actually, considering the health issues he's dealt with, actually embodies) the grizzled hard-worker card. Steve Spurrier is somehow still considered the "ole' ball coach." And then you have new Vanderbilt head coach, Robbie Caldwell. He may be a combination of Robert Neyland and Lennie (from "Of Mice and Men"), and should entertain us with a post-game press conference that range in subjects from "how the Commodores’ special teams played" to "how coon hunting when he was 12 years-old affected the game plan."
Paris thinks that's hot.
Nick Saban says his team isn’t defending a national championship. Urban Meyer is ready to put the Tim Tebow era to rest. Tennessee is moving on without Lane Kiffin.
Activate popped collar, slide on aviators, turn around and strut away.
At times, these coaches act like the chick in school that knew she was hot and knew she was coveted, but brushed the attention off with the “Who, little ole’ me?” routine. Meanwhile prepubescent boys (aka – the media – and moreover the media laugh during press conferences) were prepared to cut off their arm for a chance to date her.
You can’t blame them. These coaches have a product that sells and in this case, until another conference steps up and knocks the Southeastern Conference off their self constructed pedestal, SEC will continue to sell.
And when you combine the talent of the athletes doing the work on the field, who continue to fill roster spots in the NFL, with the charisma of the coaches, the SEC is easily the sexy choice for the media to cling to and obsess about from September 2nd until that second week of January.
Using our college football simulation engine, Whatifsports.com simulated thousands of college football games to create this SEC Preview. Team ratings, player ratings and depth charts are accurate as of July 31st. What you see in the WIS-SEC Predictions table is the most-likely outcome based on the computer simulations. The team-by-team schedules use Absolute Records, which you can learn more about below. Those same game-by-game simulations also generate average points per game for both teams.
For this analysis, thousands of college football games are simulated, with the sum of the winning percentages of those games being our final predicted record. As can be noted, sometimes a team is "favored" (wins more than 50% of the time) in a different number of our games than the expected record shows. We list this record as the Absolute Record. The assumption of the Absolute Record is that the more likely scenario always happens. Since we know that it does not, our expected record (in the table above) is far more accurate. Also, especially since we are rounding, it is possible for a team to win a game more often, yet score the same or fewer points on average. In those cases, for Absolute Records, we always take higher winning percentage and are not predicting a tie or a win by an underdog. This is another reason why the expected records are more accurate, as the teams are so evenly matched, the game could easily go either way.
“Florida coach Urban Meyer is happy and healthy.”
“And the Gators are ready to put the Tim Tebow era behind them.”
“Even without its iconic quarterback, Florida enters 2010 as a consensus preseason top 10 team. But gone are the weighty expectations that the Gators faced last season, when they were preseason No. 1 and expected to repeat as BCS champions.”
"It's definitely different than last year, when we were the top-rated team, but this is a new team and a new year," senior defensive end Justin Trattou said. "The expectations around us might be different, but our expectations are the same, and you could see that by how hard we've worked this summer."
“It's also been a different summer for Meyer. Last year, Meyer went into the season with undiagnosed pain in his chest. The health scare caused Meyer to briefly resign in December, before changing his mind to return to UF for his sixth season.”
"It's been diagnosed," Meyer said. "I don't have that concern."
“So now Meyer can turn his focus to the field, where fourth-year junior John Brantley takes over for Tebow at quarterback. There are also seven new starters to break in on defense. Meyer is confident he'll be able to fill the holes on his first team because of quality recruiting, but he is concerned about his second- and third-team units.”
"We have some really good young players, but not much depth and not much experience," Meyer said.”
2010 Florida Gators
|1||Miami (OH) RedHawks||95||55-6|
|2||South Florida Bulls||91||41-21|
|5||@Alabama Crimson Tide||28||22-32|
|7||Mississippi State Bulldogs||95||40-15|
|11||South Carolina Gamecocks||70||34-21|
|12||Appalachian State Mountaineers||95||67-5|
|13||@Florida State Seminoles||53||38-37|
Dean Legge from DawgPost.com is our Georgia Bulldogs insider:
"The strength of Georgia is its offensive line," Legge said. "The weakness of the team is probably the inexperience at quarterback. I think they will finish 2nd in the SEC East."
For more from Dean Legge and the Bulldogs check out DawgPost.com.
The following information comes from WIS contributor Tom Reese:
The strength of Georgia is the offensive line and its running back tandem of Caleb King and Washaun Ealey. If Georgia can establish their running game they can protect red-shirt freshman QB, Aaron Murray, and keep him from having to win games with his arm early in the season. Georgia also has one of the best wide receivers in the nation in pre-season All-American A.J. Green. He should be counted on to bail out Murray on occasion. The size of Georgia's receiving corp has yet to be a subject of discussion, but it touts two players, senior Kris Durham and sophomore Marlon Brown, at 6’5’’ who are sure to complement Green.
The glaring weakness from last year’s team was taken care of before the bowl game; when three defensive coaches, including the special teams coach, were let go. It will be interesting to see how the Dawgs' defense has adjusted to the new 3-4 scheme that was implemented under Todd Grantham this summer. They will not have all the personnel in place up front since they have been recruiting for the 4-3 scheme. The Dawgs moved offensive lineman Justin Anderson over to defense to give them some depth at the nose guard position.
Special teams will also be a strong point as they return Ray Guy award winner Drew Butler as punter, and Lou Groza finalist Blair Walsh as the place kicker.
2010 Georgia Bulldogs
|1||Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns||95||44-10|
|2||@South Carolina Gamecocks||46||27-29|
|4||@Mississippi State Bulldogs||88||34-22|
|10||Idaho State Bengals||95||63-6|
|13||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||46||35-36|
Crazy Game of JokerKentucky is 12-20 vs SEC teams the last 4 years
"One of our program goals is to win the SEC East," coach Joker Phillips said recently. "Not to win the national championship, but to win the SEC East. If you win the SEC East, there's a chance you're going to be competing for the national championship."
“That definitely ranks as lofty expectations for a middling BCS program playing in the same division as defending champion Alabama and national power Florida. Particularly with the Wildcats being in the midst of a reloading phase after losing numerous key players from a team that compiled a 7-6 record last season.”
“Kentucky still needs to decide on a starting quarterback between senior Mike Hartline and sophomore Morgan Newton. Hartline, who missed most of the second half of last season due to knee injury, has the edge entering fall camp.”
“The Wildcats have played in four consecutive bowl games. Shoring up issues on defense and the offensive line are crucial to that stretch reaching five.”
2010 Kentucky Wildcats
|2||Western Kentucky Hilltoppers||95||38-9|
|7||South Carolina Gamecocks||19||19-30|
|9||@Mississippi State Bulldogs||49||22-23|
|10||Charleston Southern Buccaneers||95||49-7|
Wes Mitchell of GamecockAnthem.com is our South Carolina Gamecocks insider:
"The strength of South Carolina overall is its defense," Mitchell said. "Ellis Johnson's defense finished third in the SEC in Total D last year, and though All-SEC LB Eric Norwood graduated, Johnson returns a deeper unit this year. The defense should be fast and athletic, and will be paced by the defensive line which features seniors preseason All-SEC defensive end Cliff Matthews and defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye. The defensive backs won't be far behind and are led by preseason All-American Stephon Gilmore."
"On offense South Carolina features a deep wide receiver corps. led by sophomores Alshon Jeffery and Tori Gurley, and a deep running back group that adds former Scout five-star RB Marcus Lattimore to the fold."
"South Carolina's weakness throughout the Spurrier Era has been the offensive line and until that group proves otherwise it will remain the biggest question mark on this team. "
For more from Wes Mitchell and the Gamecocks check out GamecockAnthem.com.
2010 South Carolina Gamecocks
|1||Southern Miss Golden Eagles||79||38-27|
|6||Alabama Crimson Tide||21||19-30|
“A program that was the model of stability for nearly 30 years, as it was run by Tennessee grads Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer, is now reeling from constant turmoil.”
“New head coach Derek Dooley, the son of former legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, promises to be around for the long run. And it may take a while to rebuild this program's talent base and depth to the level needed to win in the Southeastern Conference.”
“There are some top-of-the-line SEC players -- tight end Luke Stocker and defensive end Chris Walker are two -- but there are also too many holes at too many key positions.”
“Take quarterback, where either true freshman Tyler Bray or junior college transfer Matt Simms will start. The next snap either takes in a Volunteer uniform will be his first. The new quarterback will operate behind an all-new offensive line that as of Aug. 2 featured two freshmen. The defense has to replace two first-round NFL picks, including All-American safety Eric Berry.”
“UT's schedule does it no favors, either. Beginning with a Sept. 11 visit from Oregon, it plays six of seven games against teams that will be or could be in the Top 25.”
“Dooley and his staff appear to know their stuff, but expecting this team to contend for anything besides a .500 season and minor bowl bid is unrealistic.”
2010 Tennessee Volunteers
|8||Alabama Crimson Tide||5||11-37|
|9||@South Carolina Gamecocks||25||19-29|
“The 56-year old Robbie Caldwell doesn't figure to change much of Bobby Johnson's philosophy, although it will be interesting to see if the offense will take a different tack with the addition of former Tulsa co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand to the staff.”
“As for the on-field questions, they're the same this year for the Commodores that they have been in most years. Can they produce more big plays on offense and stay reasonably healthy?”
“Neither happened in last year's 2-10 nightmare, which started with injuries and ended with more injuries. Both sides of the ball were patchwork before midseason, thanks to bad luck and 12 straight games without an open date.”
“For the offense to improve from inept to adequate, quarterback Larry Smith must take a couple of steps forward. He showed flashes of brilliance as a sophomore but was hampered by inaccuracy and decision-making before a season-ending injury Oct. 31 against Georgia Tech.”
“Defensively, the front four must hold up better against the run than it did last year. Although injuries didn't help, the unit took a step back from the defenses which took the field in 2007 and 2008.”
“As is the case most years, there are few expectations for Vandy. But if it can stay healthy and produce more big plays on offense, it has a realistic chance to double its win total from last year.”
2010 Vanderbilt Commodores
|6||Eastern Michigan Eagles||93||30-12|
|8||South Carolina Gamecocks||5||13-35|
|13||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||26||20-24|
Ala-Wham-YaMark Ingram will try for a second Heisman Trophy
Kirk McNair of BamaMag.com is our Alabama Crimson Tide insider:
"Alabama returns most of the offensive weapons of 2009, including Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram at tailback, Greg McElroy at quarterback, and Julio Jones at wide receiver," McNair said. "The defense is being rebuilt, but Coach Nick Saban has recruited well in recent years and the Crimson Tide has big, fast, strong players to meet the needs. It is understandable that virtually every pre-season poll has Alabama winning the Southeastern Conference and likely repeating as national champion."
For more from Kirk McNair and the Crimson Tide check out BamaMag.com.
2010 Alabama Crimson Tide
|1||San Jose State Spartans||95||56-6|
|2||Penn State Nittany Lions||93||31-15|
|3||@Duke Blue Devils||95||40-12|
|6||@South Carolina Gamecocks||79||30-19|
|11||Mississippi State Bulldogs||95||45-9|
|12||Georgia State Panthers||95||71-2|
“The cover of Arkansas' media guide has highly acclaimed quarterback Ryan Mallett standing beside the words "GET READY." There couldn't be a more apt metaphor for Arkansas' 2010 season.”
“In Bobby Petrino's third year as the Razorbacks' coach, expectations are sky-high. That's due in large part to Mallett, who has Heisman Trophy hopes. But he is boosted by eight other offensive starters from last year's team, which went 8-5 and won the Liberty Bowl.”
“Now, the team is poised to make the next step. The buzz around the program has been quite loud in the offseason, even as Mallett has nursed a foot injury. To Petrino's credit, he's not shying away from the hype or pretending it doesn't exist.”
"We're embracing the expectations," Petrino said at SEC Media Days. "I think that's a good thing. When you have high expectations, it means that you played good football at the end of the year last year and you have a lot of returning players coming back."
“Tight end D.J. Williams is another bonus among those returning starters, as is an experienced offensive line. Most of the defense returns, too, but it wasn't one that wowed people last year.”
2010 Arkansas Razorbacks
|1||Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles||95||64-7|
|4||Alabama Crimson Tide||28||30-34|
|6||@Texas A&M Aggies||67||40-37|
|10||@South Carolina Gamecocks||67||36-33|
|12||@Mississippi State Bulldogs||88||40-28|
The Final BurnAuburn was 16th in the nation in total offense
“With a huge senior class, a hot-shot junior college transfer quarterback in Cameron Newton, 15 returning starters and a 30-man signing class that is expected to provide depth at a number of positions, there are tangible reasons why Auburn should expect better.”
“Kick in a favorable schedule that features eight home games and three winnable road games (Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Kentucky), and some have gone as far as to predict the Tigers and Alabama to both be undefeated for the Nov. 26 Iron Bowl.”
"At this time last year, we were trying to figure out who our football team was," coach Gene Chizik said. "We were trying to break the huddle. Now, we're trying to really focus on being a great football team."
“A quarterback has been named -- an absolute rarity around Auburn over the past few years -- and there are few position battles that have to be settled before the season opener against Arkansas State. Outside of what appears to be a one-sided battle between junior college transfers Brandon Mosley and Roszell Gayden at right tackle, the next-most intriguing battle could be at punter.”
“That's how far Auburn has come in a year. Now, 2010 will be about how far it can go.”
2010 Auburn Tigers
|1||Arkansas State Red Wolves||95||49-9|
|2||@Mississippi State Bulldogs||95||39-20|
|4||South Carolina Gamecocks||65||32-26|
|13||@Alabama Crimson Tide||21||19-35|
Purple PrideLSU's defense only allowed 16.2 ppg last season
“The Tigers return six starters on offense and their top two quarterbacks in starter Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, and they seem to have the potential to improve an anemic attack that generated just under 305 yards a game in total offense last year. Only eight FBS teams were less productive.”
“Despite the loss of Brandon LaFell, the Tigers have talented receivers in senior Terrence Toliver and sophomores Russell Shepard and Reuben Randle, and they have three solid running backs in veterans Stevan Ridley and Richard Murphy and newcomer Mike Ford.”
“But there are big questions on defense, which loses seven starters from a unit that allowed only 16 points a game last year, 11th best in the country.”
“Two of the returnees were coaches' selections for first team preseason All-SEC -- linebacker Kelvin Sheppard and cornerback Patrick Peterson.”
“But one of the other returnees, senior Lazarius Levingston, is moving from end to tackle to bolster a need there.”
"I feel comfortable with this group because we have the Chief," Sheppard said, referring to the players' nickname for coordinator John Chavis. "He does a great job getting everyone ready to play. The defensive line is as strong as it's been since I've been here."
2010 LSU Tigers
|1||@North Carolina Tar Heels||65||18-15|
|3||Mississippi State Bulldogs||91||33-13|
|4||West Virginia Mountaineers||56||27-21|
|7||McNeese State Cowboys||95||55-4|
|10||Alabama Crimson Tide||19||16-26|
“When Houston Nutt left SEC Media Days on July 23, he couldn't have imagined what his next 10 days would be like. He was to meet with his backup quarterback, Raymond Cotton, who had hinted that he might transfer.”
“He made good on that hint, and Nutt had a decision to make. Jeremiah Masoli, the Oregon standout whose run-ins with the law led to his desire to transfer, was available. Since his degree was earned, NCAA rules allowed him to play immediately.”
“Was it worth it? Could Nutt and UM survive the negative publicity?”
“Eventually, they decided they could. Masoli said on Aug. 1 that he would attend Ole Miss and he was expected in Oxford as the Rebels began preseason practice.”
“All of the sudden, the perspective on Ole Miss' 2010 season changed dramatically.”
“Pre-Masoli, Rebel fans were bracing for a rebuilding year after wholesale graduation losses from a team that won nine games for the second consecutive season. One of the positions at which the Rebels were facing such rebuilding was quarterback, where Nathan Stanley was set to be the starter.”
“Masoli will have to earn the job, but he has had his name in the same sentence as "Heisman," so that shouldn't be too hard of a problem. So can the Rebels threaten for another top-tier bowl and another nine-win season? Can Masoli behave?”
“Those are certainly questions interesting and new questions for Nutt.”
2010 Mississippi Rebels
|1||Jacksonville State Gamecocks||95||56-7|
|2||@Tulane Green Wave||89||37-19|
|4||Fresno State Bulldogs||68||37-28|
|7||@Alabama Crimson Tide||5||15-38|
|10||Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns||95||42-10|
|13||Mississippi State Bulldogs||79||34-20|
“Last year's Egg Bowl win over Ole Miss improved Dan Mullen's final record in his first year at Mississippi State to a mere 5-7. But to him, it has set the tone for 2010. He has stirred up promise in all corners of the state, setting a season ticket sales record.”
“And he's pumped optimism through his team, too. They're believing they can win those games they came so close to winning last year. They're believing that the offense that Mullen brought is the ticket to success. And they're believing that late-season improvement on defense, coupled with a new coordinator, can make good on those promises, too.”
“Delivering on all this optimism, though, will be the challenge.”
“It's not as if the brash young Mullen doesn't have some tools. He returns four starters on the offensive line, his specialists, one of the two quarterbacks he used last year, a talented group of defensive linemen, linebackers and a promising secondary. But he has some question marks, too.”
“Is quarterback Chris Relf the dynamic passer and runner that Mullen needs to keep defenses honest? And who will replace Anthony Dixon at tailback? State went through the spring working as a committee there and few signs suggest that is about to change.”
“But now that he is in the second year of his system, there's at least one thing he won't have to worry about: his team's mental state. By all signs, he seems to have them all on board.”
2010 Mississippi State Bulldogs
|5||Alcorn State Braves||95||48-8|
|11||@Alabama Crimson Tide||5||9-45|
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.