Okay, we lied. We lied right there in the headline. There’s no chance of “less.” We’re using 25 lines here to breakdown the 2011 SEC football season. That’s two lines per team and one for, well, you’ll see. The line “25 lines or less” just sounded good.
Everyone does a Power Poll and a “Fearless Forecast” at the start of a new season. We expect to see a dozen or more regarding the SEC as this week rolls forward. So we’re going to take a different tack. One conference, one season, 25 lines.
Besides, we already posted our own predictions for the SEC season way back before Media Days. (And long before Jordan Jefferson’s arrest, too.)
So without further ado, here’s what we’re thinking on the eve of a new season…
Alabama: They’ve got the coach and the roster full of top recruits to win another national crown. But the decision to rotate quarterbacks absolutely scares the heck out of us.
Arkansas: Is a team really a darkhouse title contender if everyone says it’s a darkhorse title contender? The Razorbacks can survive the loss of running back Knile Davis, but it’s gonna hurt.
Auburn: The Tigers have too many new faces at too many different positions going against too tough a schedule. That said, opponents had better hope they get this bunch early in the year and not late.
Florida: Can Charlie Weis get more out of the skill position players around John Brantley? If so, then the Gators have as good a shot as anyone at “pulling an Auburn” in 2011.
Georgia: On paper, the Dawgs’ two toughest games come in the season’s first two weeks, so there’s no need to panic if they start slow. Panic should set in, however, if either Isaiah Crowell or Richard Samuel get hurt.
Kentucky: UK took a slight step backwards in 2010 and the sledding doesn’t look much easier in 2011. Joker Phillips will have to right the Big Blue ship without Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke and Mike Hartline on offense.
LSU: Team Turmoil has already lost quarterback Jordan Jefferson and playmaker Russell Shepard indefinitely. If luck isn’t once again on Les Miles side, it’s possible the wheels could come off for a team that faces a deadly schedule.
Miss. State: Dan Mullen has the Bulldog Nation believing in themselves. Too bad then that we feel they’re destined to backslide a bit this fall.
Ole Miss: Houston Nutt usually finds a way to move the football — even last year the Rebels averaged 30 points per game. If the defense improves as it should, UM could surprise some folks.
South Carolina: Don’t worry about Alshon Jeffery’s weight or Stephen Garcia’s behavior. As long as Marcus Lattimore stays healthy and the Gamecocks handle the pressure of high expectations (for the first time ever), Carolina’s got the roster to finish in the Top 10.
Tennessee: The Vols don’t have much depth, but they’re due a lucky break or two after last season’s LSU and North Carolina games. If the Vols can develop a run game to take the pressure off Tyler Bray and their D, UT should go bowling again.
Vanderbilt: James Franklin has created enthusiasm in Nashville and he’s done eye-poppingly well on the recruiting trail. If he can now get some points out of Larry Smith and the offense he inherited… he really is a miracle-worker.
Line 25: We’re betting on the SEC to win its 6th BCS Championship in a row… because — all thanks to Jeffrey Tambor in “The Hangover” — you never walk away from the table when you’re on a heater.