With LSU coming back to the pack, as it were, the SEC will be open to all contenders in 2008. Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn, Florida and LSU all are legitimate college football picks for this year's SEC crown.
2008 Alabama Tide College Football Preview:
Nick Saban's long-term promise to return the Tide to the pinnacle of the football charts took another step forward this spring when Alabama earned top recruiting honors. But whether this leads to bettering last year's seven win ncaa football season remains in doubt.
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John Parker Wilson returns as the starting quarterback (2,846 yards, 18 TDs). He'll be looking for more consistency this year while throwing to a new group of receivers led by junior Mike McCoy (28 catches, 1 TD). Look for Julio Jones, the number two rated recruit in the nation, to get some reps with the starting unit. At 6-4 this human zip-fiend runs a 4.4 40, making him difficult to match-up against in man-to-man situations. Sophomore Terry Grant (891 yards, 8 TDs) returns as the team's starting running back. He should hit the 1,000 yard mark running behind offensive tackle Andre Smith, an Outland Trophy candidate and 2008 Playboy Preseason All-American college football pick.
Safety Rashad Johnson (6 interceptions), a Nagurski Trophy candidate, is one of the few givens on an otherwise young defensive unit. Defensive end Bobby Greenwood may get some help along the line from Terrance Cody, a prized junior college transfer recruit.
A difficult schedule - Clemson, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn - does not bode well for this young team. SEC title dreams are probably one or two years away.
2008 Arkansas Razorback Football Preview:
Arkansas' annual Red-White game attracted a record 40,200 fans this year. This is more proof and is a safe college football pick that coach Bobby Petrino's arrival has Razorback fans feeling optimistic about the 2008 ncaa football season.
Quarterback Casey Dick will benefit the most from Petrino's passing attack. After struggling last year Dick looked outstanding in the spring game, completing 33 of 49 passes for 404 yards and one score. Wide receivers Carlton Salters and London Crawford and sophomore tight end D.J. Williams, an emerging star, will be able to stretch the field. Michael Smith, who averaged 6.6 yards per carry last season, takes over for Darren McFadden at running back. Smith's soft hands make him a threat slipping out of the backfield in passing situations. And center Jonathon Luigs returns after winning the 2007 Rimington Trophy.
The defensive challenge will be replacing six starters, including the entire secondary. Fortunately the line looks stout, led by tackles Earnest Mitchell and Malcolm Shepherd. Improved play on the rush from defensive end Antwain Robinson will go a long way in helping the secondary.
Though the SEC title is out of the question, the Razorbacks should be good enough to earn a major college football bowl invitation.
2008 Auburn Tigers College Football Preview:
If the Auburn Tigers' master new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's no-huddle spread offense by the start of the season, they could challenge for top SEC honors.
Returning quarterback Kodi Burns has the legs and arm to effectively run Franklin's wide open attack. Should he falter, however, junior college transfer Chris Todd, who has experience with the spread offense, could get the nod. Whoever starts will be complemented by a veteran offensive line and a fleet group of receivers led by Rod Smith (52 catches, 5 TDs) and Montez Billings (28 catches, 1 TD). Junior Ben Tate (903 yards, 8 TDs), senior Brad Lester (530 yards, 3 TDs) and sophomore Mario Fannin (448 yards, 5 TDs) will all get their share of carries and further cement Auburn's reputation as Running Back U.
Last season's sixth rated defense could be stronger this year. Defensive end Antonio Coleman and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks bring strength and menace to a line that's equally good at stopping the run and harassing quarterbacks. They're backed by a swift group of linebackers and a ball-hawking secondary. Cornerback Jerraud Powers had a superb spring and looks ready to match or top last year's four interceptions and 63 tackles.
Despite a difficult schedule, the Tigers look ready to challenge LSU and Georgia for SEC honors. Keep an eye on the Quarterback situation when making your college football picks on game involving Auburn, as this team's success will depend on the team settling on a quarterback.
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Georgia Bulldogs NCAA Football Picks Preview:
This team is stacked at every position, making the Bulldogs well-equipped to navigate through the difficult SEC. Many people may be taking the Georgia Bulldogs as their NCAA football picks for the 2008-09 National Championship.
The defense looks fast, deep and mean. Last year's front line, which limited opponents to a miniscule 3.3 yards per carry and led the SEC with 42 sacks, returns. Dannell Ellerbe, Rennie Curran and Darryl Gamble give the Bulldogs one of the best linebacking trios in the nation. And the secondary features lock-down cornerback Asher Allen.
Junior quarterback Matthew Stafford (2,523 yards, 19 TDs) leads an offense that keeps the gas pedal mashed to the floor. Wide receiver Mohamed Mossaquoi (32 grabs, 4 TDs) has playmaking speed and could be joined by a duo of highly coveted recruits, Tavarres King and A.J. Green. Knowshon Moreno (1,334 yards, 14 TDs) ranks as one of the best backs in the nation and also duels as a threat coming out of the backfield in passing situations. He's backed by redshirt freshman Caleb King, a superstar in the waiting. No other SEC offense can match the Bulldogs' balance.
Road games at LSU and Auburn will be very difficult. But the Bulldogs' stability at quarterback gives them the edge in the SEC conference.
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2008 Florida Gators NCAA Football Preview:
Coach Urban Meyer hopes his young defense will mature enough to help the Gators rebound from last college football season's disappointing 9-4 finish.
Last year's unit yielded the most passing yards per game (258 yards). The secondary, with a year of experience under its proverbial belt, should improve considerably . Cornerback Joe Haden looked good in spring as did safety Major Wright. Linebacker Brandon Spikes, a Lott Trophy candidate, led the Gators as a sophomore with 131 tackles and should really flourish this season behind a revamped defensive line. Carlos Dunlap, a 6-6 beast at defensive end, set a school record in the spring game with four sacks.
Heisman winner Tim Tebow (3,286 yards, 32 TDs) returns at quarterback. And if Meyer has his way Tebow won't be counted on to run as much. USC-transfer Emmanuel Moody, the 2006 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, should be getting the brunt of the carries. He put on a king-wow performance in the spring game, darting for 111 yards on 14 rushes and scoring once. He'll be following guard Jim Tartt, an Outland Trophy candidate.
Though loaded at the skill positions, the Gators still look to be a season away from being a legitimate ncaa football pick for the national championship.
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08' Kentucky Wildcats College Football Preview:
Coach Rich Brooks enters the 2008 ncaa football season brimming with optimism thanks to an improved Kentucky defense. But for the team to be a factor in the SEC conference title chase, the Wildcats offense must fill some huge holes caused by graduation and the NFL draft.
Finding a replacement for quarterback Andre Woodson remains a work in progress. Curtis Pulley and Mike Hartline are the leading candidates but neither one has shown enough to be declared the starter. E.J. Adams' move from defensive back to wide receiver has helped ease the loss of last season's four top receivers. Alfonso Smith, following a strong spring, looks ready to have a breakout year junior year at running back.
Kentucky's defense, for the first time in years, looks strong. The secondary has depth and speed. Brooks calls it the best he's seen since coming to Kentucky. Cornerback Trevard Lindley (3 interceptions) who leads the unit, has All-SEC potential. Ventrell Jenkins move from defensive tackle to end will enable him to use his athleticism to bring heat on opposing quarterbacks and hopefully improve on the team's 24 sacks from last year.
An easy non-conference schedule - Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee State, Temple - will help balance the wince of playing road games against Florida, Tennessee and Alabama. The Wildcats are a likely pick to go to a major bowl in 2008.
2008 LSU Tigers College Football Preview:
The LSU Tigers enter 2008 as a mere echo of their dominating 2007 team. Gone are 10 starters, including all-universe defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. But they do have head coach Les Miles returning, after shunning several offers from Michigan.
The offense features four starters at offensive line. This unit will need to be strong for the quarterback position is in disarray. Ryan Perrilloux's bounce from the team leaves the Tigers with Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch and redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee. Richard Murphy looks to be the number one choice at running back following a huge spring game (145 yards, 3 TDs). Wide receivers Brandon LeFell (48 grabs, 3 TDs) and Demetrius Byrd (33 grabs, 7 TDs) can both fly. But whether LSU will have a quarterback that can find them remains to be seen.
Outside of Darry Beckwith the linebacker position looks thin. Fortunately the backers will be aided by a strong interior line anchored by defensive tackle Al Woods, a 6-5, 325-pound sophomore. The secondary appears set at safety with Craig Steltz and Curtis Taylor.
An easy non-conference schedule - North Texas, Tulane, Troy - bodes well for the Tigers. But they still must travel to Florida and Auburn which will be primetime ESPN games.
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Ole Miss College Football Picks Preview:
Coach Houston Nutt takes over a team that went 0-8 against SEC conference opponents last season. Despite this bleak record Nutt does have some playmakers to begin building a winning foundation with.
Texas transfer Jevan Snead looks great at quarterback. His spring performance has many Rebel insiders saying he's the best Ole Miss quarterback since Eli Manning. He'll be aided by a veteran offensive line and running backs Cordero Eason and freshman Enrique Davis, a five-star recruit with 4.3 speed, who chose Ole Miss over Auburn and Tennessee. Wide receiver Dexter McCluster could be used much in the same way Nutt employed Darren McFadden at Arkansas, using him also as a situational quarterback and running back.
The defense will need another repeat performance from defensive end Greg Hardy. Greg Hardy was an All-SEC college football pick in 2007 and tallied 10 sacks in just 10 games. Junior college transfer Patrick Trahan should provide a needed upgrade at linebacker. The secondary is thin at depth.
Ole Miss faces a formidable road schedule with games at Wake Forest, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and LSU. A five-win season will be considered a success and fans are just looking for an improvement
2008 Mississippi State Football Preview
Coming off an 8-5 season that included a Liberty Bowl win and a victory at Alabama, the Bulldogs should feel good about the upcoming season. Especially when you consider the team last year started a true freshman, Wes Carroll, at quarterback.
Carroll looked strong in spring practice, giving hope that he'll improve on last season's modest numbers (1,392 yards, 9 TDs). The addition of junior college transfer Tyson Lee, a dual threat to throw and run, gives Mississippi State needed depth at quarterback. The offense's success, however, will again fall upon Anthony Dixon. This rambling brute wore down defenses with his bruising running style. Though his yards per carry average was low (3.7), Dixon still bowled his way over the goal line 14 times. Redshirt freshman Robert Elliott will join Dixon in the backfield. His speed and elusiveness gives the offense the home run element it lacked last season.
The defense returns eight starters. Tackles Jessie Bowman and Kyle Love anchor a solid front line. Cornerback Anthony Johnson's return from injury will bolster an already strong secondary that ranked third in the SEC last year.
Picks for another bowl game looks to be possible for Sylvester Croom's team.
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South Carolina Gamecocks 2008 Preview:
The promise of the Steve Spurrier era has yet to manifest into a breakthrough season for the Gamecocks. To improve on last year's disappointing 6-6 clunker, Spurrier will need to recharge an offense that finished eighth in the SEC.
Settling on a quarterback will help. Tommy Beecher currently has the edge over Chris Smelley. But highly regarded Stephen Garcia could challenge once he returns from being suspended. Whoever starts will be throwing to All-SEC college football picks, receiver Kenny McKinley (77 grabs, 9 TDs). Mike Davis (518 yards, 5 TDs) and sophomore Brian Maddox looked strong at running back for the Gamecocks. The South Carolina offensive line needs to improve on pass protection, yielding 31 sacks last year.
The defense will carry South Carolina in 2008. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley's return from injury gives an already strong unit a potential All-American candidate. The secondary features cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (3 interceptions) and safety Emmanuel Cook (3 interceptions), both second-team All-SEC selections.
The Gamecocks must start strong or they can once again be bottom feeders in the SEC conference. The team finishes against Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Clemson.
2008 Tennessee Vols NCAA Football Preview:
The addition of new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson and a revamped defense has the Volunteers feeling optimistic about 2008.
But for everything to fall into place, as they say, Jonathon Crompton has to prove he's ready to become the starting quarterback. Despite a bum elbow he looked outstanding in the annual spring game, connecting on 13 of 20 passes for 266 yards. Fortunately for Crompton he'll be protected by an offensive line that yielded only four sacks last season. He'll be handing off to Arian Foster (1,193 yards, 12 TDs), one of the best backs in the conference, who also snared 39 balls coming out of the backfield. Lucas Taylor (73 catches, 5 TDs), Josh Briscoe (56 catches, 6 TDs) and Austin Rogers (56 catches, 4 TDs) give Crompton three play-making targets.
The return of free safety Demetrice Morley from academic probation gives the defense a much needed boost. Replacing linebacker Jerod Mayo, however, last year's leading tackler in the SEC, will be difficult.
The Volunteers, once again may be legitimate college football picks for the SEC crown. But, whether they can grab it depends on the play of quarterback Jonathon Crompton.
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2008 Vanderbilt College Football Preview:
The good news is that Vanderbilt returns a veteran defensive unit. The bad news, as usual, is that Vanderbilt plays in the SEC.
Heading into a season without a number one quarterback and an entirely brand new offensive front line does not bode well for a team that plays Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. Coach Bobby Johnson remains optimistic, however, that either Mackenzi Adams (1,043 yards, 9 TDs) or Chris Nickson (763 yards, 6 TDs) will emerge as the obvious quarterback picks. If not look for sophomore Jared Funk, who looked good in spring practice, to take the helm. Senior George Smith (32 catches, 3 TDs) has the difficult task of replacing all-time SEC receptions leader Earl Bennett as the team's go-to receiver. And look for Jeff Jennings (346 yards, 2 TDs) and Jared Hawkins (267 yards) to split time in the backfield.
The defense is being counted on to carry the team. It boasts a veteran secondary highlighted by All-SEC cornerback D.J. Moore (6 interceptions, 63 tackles). And Chris Johnson looks like a suitable replacement for All-SEC linebacker Jonathon Goff.
Coach Johnson will be labeled a miracle worker if he guides the Commodores into bowl selection this year.
08' Southeastern Conference Summary
Auburn, Florida and Tennessee all look strong enough to be realistic SEC championship college football picks. And Alabama, with its number one ranked recruiting class, could play the role of spoiler in the SEC conference. But in the end, Georgia's dominating defense and stability at quarterback should and probably will carry the Bulldogs to the top of the SEC and could be a great pick for national champs in 2008.