Friday, 3 January 2003

Bowl Season; 2003 SEC Thoughts

Bowl season will be over tonight with the Miami-Ohio State contest in Tempe (my prediction: OSU 27, Miami 24).

A few miscellaneous notes:

  • The SEC goes 3–4. Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia held up their ends of the bargain, at least, while Arkansas showed how thoroughly one-dimensional their offense is (how, again, did they win the SEC West?), Florida and LSU put in respectable showings, and Tennessee, well, played like Tennessee has all season long.

  • Alabama fans are wondering if they can return Mike Price after the 34–14 drubbing that Washington State got at the hands of Oklahoma. (They're probably also wondering how many more years they're going to be on probation.) Price's system would be a move away from the option attack that served Alabama well in 2002, tending more toward the play action style favored by most of the conference (except Arkansas).

  • The SEC's team to watch in 2003 is Kentucky; fresh off sanctions and with a new coach, they're likely to make things interesting in the SEC East. (However, Georgia will repeat as SEC East champion — you read it here first.)

  • The SEC West will be the same clusterf*ck that it was in 2002, although Alabama will not go 4–1 in the division. Mississippi State will remain the “Vandy of the West.”

  • If Eli Manning returns to Ole Miss, the Rebels probably have the inside track to win the SEC West, with a largely favorable schedule (with just Vandy, Florida, Auburn and MSU on the road, along with an early trip to Memphis — where Ole Miss fans will outnumber Memphis fans at the Liberty Bowl). Without Manning, Ole Miss will have to rely on an untested QB: either Micheal Spurlock or Seth Smith.

Finally, my early pick for 2003 National Champion: none other than Georgia.

By the way, what's the over/under on how many times Keith Jackson retires during the game? He and Dan Fouts almost give CBS's SEC crew a run for their money in the “worst booth in college football” sweepstakes.