Posted: 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013
By James Streble
Last Season's Results:
Arkansas Razorbacks - 4-8 (2-6)
Auburn Tigers - 3-9 (0-8)
Mississippi Rebels - 7-6 (3-5) Defeated the Pitt Panthers in the BBVA Compass Bowl 38-17
Texas A&M; Aggies - 11-2 (6-2) Defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in the AT&T; Cotton Bowl 41-13
Key Players Returning:
Johnny Manziel- Texas A&M; Aggies Sophomore Quarterback: 3,706 Passing Yards, 26 touchdowns, 9 Interceptions, 201 Rushing Attempts, 1,410 Rushing Yards, 21 Touchdowns. Won the Heisman Trophy.
Zach Mettenberger - LSU Tigers Senior Quarterback: 2,609 Passing Yards, 12 Touchdowns, 7 Interceptions
Tyler Russell- Mississippi State Senior Quarterback: 2,897 Passing Yards, 24 Touchdowns, 10 Interceptions
Donte Moncrief- Ole Miss Rebels Junior Wide Receiver: 66 Receptions, 979 Yards, 10 Touchdowns
Katherine Webb- Girlfriend of Crimson Tide QB AJ McCarron: Made Brent Musburger have a total perv out moment on national TV in front of millions of viewers.
Bret Bielema- Arkansas Razorbacks
Gus Malzahn- Auburn Tigers
Teams in the Preseason Top 25: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide, #6 Texas A&M; Aggies, #13 LSU Tigers
Bold Prediction: Johnny Manziel will not miss any games due to NCAA violations
Sleeper Team: The LSU Tigers may be the sleeper team in the West this season. It may sound crazy to call the powerhouse Tigers a sleeper, but they aren't getting the love that they usually do this time of year. The emergence of Johnny Football and the Aggies as the #2 team in the West pushed Les Miles' Tigers out of the limelight. Playing second banana to the Tide isn't the best gig in the world but it's better than being third. The woes of highly touted QB Zach Metternberger were well documented last season as LSU struggled to score at times. They ranked 94th in passing yards, 51st in rushing yards and 59th in overall points for. Offensive numbers like those aren't going to win against stout defenses like the Tide's or high octane offenses like the Aggies. To fix this issue Miles brought in former NFL head coach and offensive guru Cam Cameron. Cameron is working with Mettenberger and the rest of the unit to try and catch up with the always terrific Tiger defense.
Oh yeah, and don't count on starting running back Jeremy Hill to miss any games due to some off season extracurricular activities. LSU will bring their 12th ranked defense and new-look offense ready to make some noise. #13 might be a low ranking for them.
Team Set to Take a Dive: How much lower can the Arkansas Razorbacks go? Didn't they take a tremendous dive last season with interim coach John L. Smith? One of the few things that the ‘Backs had going for them was their offense. Starting quarterback Tyler Wilson, starting wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, running backs Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis are all gone. They have little to nothing coming back on offense. Their defense was terrible and isn't looking to get much better. Bret Bielema left the B1G conference for the bright lights of the SEC (hopefully he won't bad mouth his new conference like he did in his old one). Year one for Bret is going to be rough and ugly. They very well might overtake Auburn as the worst team in the SEC West.
Final Standings Predictions:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. LSU Tigers
3. Texas A&M; Aggies
4. Mississippi State Bulldogs
5. Ole Miss Rebels
6. Auburn Tigers
7. Arkansas Razorbacks
Why Alabama Will Win the West: It's Alabama. Nick Saban will have this team reloaded and ready to go. He already has activated his memory eraser device so everyone that was on last year's BCS Title team doesn't remember the taste of victory. AJ McCarron isn't the best quarterback in the league and the jury is out on his NFL prospects; but make no mistake that he is experienced, he is efficient, he is a leader and he knows how to win.
Eddie Lacy is gone. That's OK, sophomore T.J. Yeldon is back and he rushed for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Tide also returns their top receiver Amari Cooper who had 1,000 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.
It's no secret that they lost multiple All American offensive linemen to the NFL, but Alabama has a stable of hogs to replace them.
The Tide had the top defense in the country last season and look to duplicate again this go around. Make no mistake, as long as Nick Saban is there, his team will be in the national title conversation every season and they will be the class of the SEC. They are the two time defending champs and they have a lot of key pieces returning. This writer isn't willing to write them off until a team finally knocks them off their pedestal.