The first weekend of college football is over for the SEC East. A few things were learned but due to the nature of most of the teams schedules there is still a lot of mystery. Most schools in this division chose to do what has become the norm in big time college ball; schedule a sure victory. This strategy did not work out for everyone though. On to the predictions.
1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide did not have any trouble in their first outing as was predicted. SJSU is a lower division WAC team and just does not have the firepower to hang long with a good team from any conference. Now if the Tide had Boise or perhaps Fresno St. scheduled, then things may have looked somewhat different. The rest of the non conference schedule is middle of the road with games vs Penn State,Duke and IAA Georgia State. Only the Penn State game will prove to be a challenge. The rest of the schedule is the typical SEC schedule which is fairly tough. The Tide return a lot of starters on offense but not so many on D. They should be able to hold on to the lead in their division and play in the SEC Championship game.
2. Arkansas: Should the Tide falter the Hogs may be in a position to take their place. Not sure if they have the overall talent to be a factor for the overall SEC Championship but they are poised in the upper level of the second tier. They return a good many starters on both sides of the ball including the exceptional QB Ryan Mallett. The non conference schedule should be a cake walk for them with the possible exception of Texas A&M. The conference schedule is typical SEC.
3. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs for the third spot. Yes. Hard to believe I know, but with a bit of luck they may be able to surpass Auburn and LSU. Their thumping of Memphis the first weekend does say some about this years' squad of Dogs. The non conference schedule is about middle of the road. They did thump the Tigers out of the gate and do meet University of Houston, but should be able to take UAB and SWAC affiliate Alcorn State. They return quite a few starters on both sides of the ball but must get some good play at QB to be competitive in this league.
4. LSU: This may be Les Miles' last year in Baton Rouge. The victory over ACC North Carolina must have an asterisk added. NC did not play with most of their starting line up. They have some tough remaining non conference games including a date with WV. They also meet IAA power McNeese State but should be able to prevail rather handily as well as with their game over upstate La. Monroe. The Tigers must show more than they showed on Saturday if they intend to compete in this conference.
5. Auburn: These Tigers are a pretty good football team but are probably a year away from being among the SEC elite. They handled Arkansas State as was expected but how will they do against Clemson? They should be able to handle TN Chattanooga Mocs and Louisiana Monroe. They miss out on Florida this year and that is a plus for them. I would look for these guys to perhaps move up to as high as third, but as of now will place them in the fifth spot in this division. The Saturday game in Starkville will show a lot.
6. Ole Miss: The Rebs were embarrassed by the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State over the weekend. In reality this Jacksonville State squad is a pretty darn good ballclub. That being said the Rebels have a long long way to go to make much noise in this conference. They must meet up with Fresno State in non conference play which could easily result in a loss. They probably will be able to handle Tulane and the Ragun Cajuns this year, but that may not be a given. They do have the good fortune of not meeting Florida and Georgia out of the East, but of course meet all teams in the West. They return a decent number of starters but must get some quality reps out of their QB. They may not be as bad as the pundits say, but there are certainly questions after their last performance.