This is the next-to-last Season Recap Article. Thanks for Hanging in There.
- Storyline 10: The Return of Marcus Lattimore
- Storyline 9: Derek Dooley’s Hot Seat
- Storyline 8: Georgia’s Defense
- Storyline 7: Is Vanderbilt any good?
- Storyline 6: Picking on the New Kids – Texas A&M and Missouri
- Storyline 5: Divisional Powershift Courtesy of Auburn and Florida
- Storyline 4: The Decline of Arkansas and Mississippi State
- Storyline 3: The SEC’s Heisman Candidates
- Storyline 2: Alabama
- Storyline 1: Reviewing the Experts Picks
- How I did: Handicapping the SEC East
- How I did: Handicapping the SEC West
Remembering the Preseason Coaches Poll
Below is the Coaches Preseason Poll accompanied by where each team finished ranked (in the Coaches Poll) and a few brief thoughts.
- LSU (12) – I find it hard to criticize LSU’s 11-spot drop as I think they played to their potential this year. The loss of the Honey Badger left Les Miles and company with an anemic offense and a lack of play-making on defense and Special Teams. Frankly, I doubt the Tigers would have been ranked first had the votes taken Mathieu’s absence into consideration.
- Alabama (1) – While the merits were there for LSU, Alabama probably should have claimed this spot from the season’s onset. Naturally, the Tide rose in the end.
- Southern Cal (Unranked) – USC ended the season beyond unranked. The Trojans dropped completely out of the rankings and were not included among the thirteen teams that “also received votes.” So, at best USC dropped from third to 39th. Talent notwithstanding, that may be typical for a Lane Kiffin coached team.
- Oklahoma (15) – When you lose three games you aren’t going to finish in the top-5. That being said the Sooners three losses came to the third (Notre Dame), fifth (Texas A&M) and 11th (K-State) ranked teams.
- Oregon (2) – The Ducks were a late season loss to Stanford away from playing in the National Championship game. With Southern Cal’s fall from favor, fifth was about as low as the Ducks could have finished up given their talent, coaching and schedule. They eased up a bit.
- Georgia (4) – The Bulldogs quietly (at least on the national scale) overcame one of the season’s most embarrassing losses of the season to have one of the best season’s in the country. I’ve said a thing or two about this team.
- Florida State (8) – With the lone exception of the NC State loss, Florida State’s season went exactly how it should have. The Seminoles beat inferior opponents and lost to the one team they played that was better (Florida). I’m sure they regret the Wolfpack loss but they were still handed a cupcake BCS Bowl, which is one heck of a consolation prize.
- Michigan (NR) – The Wolverines bookended the season with losses to SEC teams (Aloabama to open, South Carolina to close) and dropped three games in the middle. If that doesn’t scream “Overrated Traditional Power” nothing does.
- South Carolina (7) – There was a point in the season at which South Carolina looked like the best team in the Country. The defense was dominant, Lattimore was getting it back and both QBs were clicking. Then they slipped up in back-to-back weeks against LSU and Florida and lost Lattimore. Yet through all of that the Cocks finished an impressive 11-2.
- Arkansas (Unranked) – Yeah. Petrino happened.
- West Virginia (Unranked) – This team also looked like a contender for a while behind a QB that seemed to throw for a mile a game without incompletions or turnovers. The wheels came off for him (to an extent) and the porous defense proved insurmountable.
- Wisconsin (Unranked) – We finally saw the Badger team we expected in the Big 10 Championship game. Prior to that the season was a real disappointment.
- Michigan State (Unranked) – The Spartans opened the season with a grueling victory over the Boise State Broncos, but the Spartans struggled to find a rhythm and one consecutive games just twice.
- Clemson (9) – The Tigers had an almost perfect season that was capped off with a win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A bowl. They return a lot of offensive firepower and should be a force in 2013.
- Texas (18) – A ho-hum 9-4 year left the Texas faithful disappointed in a year that was supposed to mark the return to elite-ness.
- Nebraska (23) – The Big 10 was weird this year. Penn State and Ohio State weren’t eligible for the Championship Game so it ended up being Nebraska taking on five-loss Wisconsin. Then somehow Wisconsin woke up in time to beat the twilight out of the Huskers. Point being: everyone expected the Huskers to punch a ticket to the Rose Bowl, but instead they ended up losing out and taking a loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl.
- TCU (Unranked) – Whatever.
- Stanford (6) – The Cardinal is back. Maybe this is a real thing. I was sure the loss of Harbaugh and then Luck would do the team in, but they’re rolling behind big, bad offensive lines.
- Oklahoma State (Unranked) – I’m so over the Big XII.
- Virginia Tech (Unranked) – Ironically this seemed entirely too low to me as the season opened. Has the talent dried up there? What’s the deal?
- Kansas State (11) – For a while the Wildcats were in the driver’s seat to the BCS National Championship. Thankfully the world restored equilibrium and sanity.
- Boise State (14) – Frankly, I don’t care where the Broncos are ranked. As long as I don’t have to hear about them. So this year was a perfect Boise State season as far as I’m concerned.
- Florida (10) – This ranking seemed way too low back in August and was part of why I felt the SEC East was underrated.
- Notre Dame (3) – SOOOOO GOOOOD!
- Auburn (Unranked) – HAHAHAHAHAHA!
That’s all I got/
On August 29th I presented the inaugural DudeYouCrazy contributor poll. I relied heavily on ten contributors (as well as myself) with knowledge of both varying teams and the SEC as a whole and asked them to predict the finishing place of each division as well as several individual awards. Here is how those results are holding up at the mid-point of the season.
1. Alabama – 73 points – Alabama seems to be in control of the West to a greater extent than others expected as the Crimson Tide have separated from LSU in the polls (by 5 spots) and in record (by 1 win). But, the Tide’s most difficult stretch of the season still remains. That being said, I can’t argue with the Tide’s poll positioning here.
Alabama is back on top.
2. LSU – 70 points – I don’t think that I’d eliminate LSU from this spot yet either. Yes, Mississippi State has a better record, but I don’t see anything that would seem to indicate the Bulldogs are capable of taking down the Tigers on the road. LSU’s loss to Florida would be negated in that dispute by a win over the Bulldogs, and the same could still be said regarding LSU and Alabama.
3. Arkansas – 52 points – What a bunch of idiots! I can’t believe I relied on these people and accidentally called them knowledgeable just a few paragraphs ago. The Razorbacks and John L. Smith have managed to turn a first-rate offense and lackluster defense into a 3-4 record. The Razorbacks are currently ranked 5th in the SEC West and I think that’s where they will ultimately finish.
4. Texas A&M – 38 points – A&M and Auburn received the same number of voting points in my poll, but I gave A&M the edge because they received more votes for fourth place or higher. Boy was that a good decision. A&M currently sits in fourth place in the SEC West. A&M should finish either third or fourth just depending on how Mississippi State handles business over the last six games.
5. Auburn – 38 points – Again, who are these voters that I’ve got? Are they using Ask Jeeves to get their information? They know that Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams are gone, right? Auburn is currently last in the SEC West, and I think they’re going to stay there.
6. Mississippi State – 21 points – I don’t think this pick is quite as bad as it seems. Nobody, not even DudeYouHateAuburn could have predicted a collapse this great for the WarEagleTigerPlainsmenLosers. If we had Mississippi State as the division’s 5th best team. There’s no reason to expect the Bulldogs to edge Alabama or LSU, which moves them to third place at best (although they are currently second). If we assign those two losses and project wins over Ole Miss and Arkansas MSU is 5-2 with a game against Texas A&M remaining. I think we can assign the same losses wins for A&M against Auburn and Missouri, and make the Aggies 4-3 with a game against MSU remaining. I think Texas A&M is the better team and if they win that game and all else plays out Mississippi State would finish fourth. And, I think all of that will happen.
7. Ole Miss – For all the good times we’ve gotten out of Arkansas the Razorbacks are still 2-2 with one of the titans (LSU) remaining. Ole Miss is 1-2 with one of the titans (LSU) remaining. Ole Miss also draws Georgia and I’m afraid that they will lose head-to-head against Arkansas. Thus, it looks like the Rebels are destined for 6th place this season.
Summary: I think the panel did pretty well with the lone exception of Auburn whose performance is an outlier for National Championship-caliber coaches. (Or was that season an outlier for a bottom-of-division-caliber coach?) Mississippi State seems inflated now, but I’d expect their hot air balloon to either burst or cool off – whichever brings it to the ground faster. Other than that I think this is pretty darn respectable.
1. Georgia – 75 points – While not out of the picture by any means, it’s impossible to give Georgia the mid-season top spot when Florida is undefeated and holding a higher ranking and South Carolina is ranked higher and holding a pocket ace in the form of an embarrassing beat-down of the Dawgs. I’d place Georgia third. Where do they end up? Georgia needs things to happen, the simplest of which is Florida to beat South Carolina and to beat Florida themselves. There are countless other scenarios I’m sure, but the bottom line is Georgia needs to win out and needs Florida and/or South Carolina to lose as much as possible. I think the odds of this happening are at least 50%.
2. South Carolina – 67 points – I would put South Carolina in the 1-spot right now for this reason: Both South Carolina and Florida can control their own destiny by winning-out, but to do so South Carolina only has to defeat one of the division’s top-three teams, Florida must defeat two. I do not trust Carolina to beat Florida. I do not trust Carolina to win out even if they do. I think South Carolina finishes second or third in the division.
3. Florida – 48 points – I’d put the Gators 2nd right now because of the daunting task of knowing they must beat South Carolina to eliminate the Gamecocks from contention and must turnaround the next weekend and beat Georgia to eliminate the Dawgs from contention. I think Florida finishes either second or third, because as I said, I think the odds of Georgia finishing 1st are at least 50%, thus the remaining portion is split between UF and S.Car. I realize I’m biased here. I do. But I think Georgia’s schedule is soft enough to allow a misstep (I’ve felt this way for a while), and I think Florida’s offense is largely unproven still.
Florida fans are happy to have a reason to celebrate.
4. Missouri – 37 points – Apparently my pollsters bought into the Missouri talk. The Tigers suck. They’ll finish next to last in the East.
5. Vanderbilt – 34 points – The Commodores are the Commodores again and you can’t convince me otherwise. I think Tennessee will win some games on the back half of the schedule (more on that in a moment) and eclipse Vandy leaving James Franklin’s squad in the 5th place as predicted. The only difference between this Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt’s of old that finished dead-last is a decline of Kentucky football (who knew that was possible) and the new kid on the block, Mizzou.
6. Tennessee – 33 points – It’s interesting that my pollsters, who for all my jokes have done a pretty darn good job at this game, predicted the Tennessee Volunteers to finish 6th in the division and yet the Vols are currently 5th with a chance to move (I believe realistically) to fourth, and fans in Knoxville are going nuts. Tennessee plays in the toughest division in the country this year. And, they won’t find rest against Alabama this week or South Carolina next. But, the Volunteers are better than Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky in my opinion. And going 3-5 with losses to Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in your division and the nation’s top team (Alabama) isn’t anything to be ashamed of. And right now the loss to Mississippi State isn’t (although my inclination is that loss may look worse later). Finishing fourth in the SEC East is not an embarrassment this year, and I think they’ll do it.
Fire Mark Richt, too!!! College football fans are known for being reasonable.
7. Kentucky – 14 points – They may hate it come hoops season, but right now the Kentucky Athletic department must wake up every morning and thank the Lord for Missouri. Thanks to Missouri’s 0-4 start I haven’t even noticed that Kentucky is also 0-4. Kentucky’s old news. Missouri losing is all the rage. Kentucky was predicted 7th and will finish 7th in the east.
Summary: “The Big Three” is no longer just a reference to LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh or a shout-out to all of my readers. “The Big Three” is now Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. After that not a lot matters in the SEC East, because there is a big gap. But, I think that if Tennessee can finish the year strong and get a favorable schedule next season they could be the new Mississippi State…and I mean that in a good way.
Six pollsters took Alabama to win the title while four chose LSU. Those figures are reasonable, but if we voted today I think Florida would steal some from LSU and maybe the one vote that was cast for South Carolina.
Offensive Player of the Year
Marcus Lattimore was the leading vote-getter for OPOY. I think the award could go to any of the running backs from the Eastern team that wins the division. Florida’s Mike Gillislee has 120 carries for 615 yards and 7 TDs. Lattimore (S. Car) has 129 carries for 584 yards and 10 TDs. UGA’s Todd Gurley has 81 carries for 575 yards and 9 TDs.
Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel could also garner some attention as the freshman has thrown for 1680 yards and run for 676 while accounting for a total of 24 TDs.
Aaron Murray also got some votes and at the mid-point he is right with the other elite QBs in the conference.
Defensive Player of the Year
Jarvis Jones and Sam Montgomery were the leading recipients of votes in this category, and both are living up to the hype. But, I think South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney would win the award if we voted today.
That’s all I got/