The SEC 2011 West Division College Football Season is upon us. SEC West teams will be playing this week with the biggest game being the LSU-Oregon game this week. This is my breakdown of the SEC West Division for the 2011 season.
I like to wait until after pre-season practice is over to put out my predictions. A lot can happen during pre-season and boy did a lot happen this preseason. Injuries, suspensions, and bad grades will have teams without key players for part or all of the 2011 college football season.
All things are shaping up to be a great SEC 2011 West Division season.
Let’s get started with the SEC West. My SEC East predictions will be out later today.
3. LSU & Miss State (Tie)
1. Alabama– I am not sold on Alabama completely because of their QB situation. If Alabama was playing Arkansas at Arkansas I may not have picked them to win the West. But since they are playing Arkansas at home and with the problems surroundings LSU I am going with Alabama to represent the West in the SEC Championship in Atlanta. There are few question marks other than the QB situation. The other main area with questions would be the receiving corps. They appear to have some solid receivers but no superstar like Julio Jones.
Before the LSU problems I was leaning toward LSU winning the West but I look for Alabama to be in Atlanta on the strength of their strong defense and the running of RB Trent Richardson.
2. Arkansas– Arkansas has a similar problem to Alabama. Their QB situation. Arkansas has a definite starter in Tyler Wilson though. He has waited patiently for his chance. Arkansas fans expect great things from him but being a starter is different than coming in during mop-up situations. One of the strengths of the Razorbacks is at WR. Jarius Wright Greg Childs and Joe Adams are all seniors and good steady receivers. Unfortunately, the Hogs lost RB Knile Davis for the year. In my opinion, he was one of the top 3 RB’s in the SEC. Playing on the road against Alabama and LSU will probably mean a second-place finish in the SEC West.
3. LSU– The mental state of LSU players cannot be really good a week before the biggest game of the first weekend of the season against Oregon. It’s generally felt that the loser of this game will be out of the running for the BCS Championship Game. LSU will play without their starting QB, WR, and LB. That may be too much to overcome against a very good Oregon team, but if they can pull it off all bets are off on their season.
If the Tigers can get by Miss.State on the road on Sept. 15 they could slide into the number 2 spot behind Alabama. But I feel like all the questions about this team right now could kill this team’s chances of having a good season. Especially if they have a bad showing against Oregon. I have them in a tie for third in the SEC West. If Jefferson is allowed to return to the team they could move up to the number 2 spot. Les Miles will have to do a great coaching job to have this team in contention for the SEC West title. This was my pick to win the west 2 weeks ago but now I have no confidence in them at all.
3. Mississippi State– The Bulldogs hired an excellent coach and recruiter in Dan Mullen. The 2011 schedule sets up beautifully for the Mississippi State Bulldogs as they get LSU, Alabama, and South Carolina at home. They do have to play Arkansas on the road. The Bulldogs could finish in 2nd place in the west if they can win 2 out of 3 of those home games. What would it take for them to win the west? Probably go undefeated in the SEC. They are not quite there yet but are very capable of pulling an upset or two. If Alabama stumbles and they can get by Arkansas they could be playing at home the last game of the season against arch-rival Ole Miss with a chance to win the SEC West.
4. Mississippi– This is probably my surprise pick to stay out of the cellar. Ole Miss will not finish dead last this year. They have 4 away games in the SEC and all are winnable. Their toughest away game is against rival Mississippi State. They should lose that one. Too bad because they’re at the home schedule is really, really tough. Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, and LSU at home could mean 0-4 or 1-3 at best if they can get by Georgia. Three wins maybe four this year in the SEC for the Rebels.
5. Auburn– Last year everything went the Tigers way. This year with a tough conference schedule I think the wheels fall off. Cam Newton carried this team on his back last year and willed them to win. Well, Cam is gone and so are the wins. I see one or two Auburn wins this year in the SEC. They play Ole Miss at home and Florida at home. That’s their chance to get a victory or two in conference play. They do have a great RB in Michael Dyer but other than that they will be young and inexperienced. We will find out a lot about them during the 2nd week of the season when they play Miss State at home.
So I am going with Alabama to be playing in the SEC Championship in 2011. If they stumble Arkansas and Mississippi State will be ready to take the SEC 2011 West Division title away from them.
Mike Norris is the author of “SEC Football Stadiums: Complete Fan’s Guide” a free e-book for college football fans. You can get it at [http://www.SoutheastSportsTalk.com/welcome/]. Get the most up-to-date information on happenings around the SEC with free videos of coaches and players along with articles year-round.