6. Ole Miss: 3-9 overall (0-8 in SEC)
Coming off of a below average season which featured them going 2-10 overall and winless in the division, Ole Miss could be facing the same fate again in the 2012 season. The Rebels did not finish in the top 80 of any major FBS statistical category and did not have a particularly strong recruiting class. Their lone conference victory could come at home against Vanderbilt who likewise is considered a low-level SEC program.
5. Mississippi State: 6-6 overall (2-6 in SEC)
Mississippi State fields a team that could compete for the conference championship in most divisions every year; however, they have the dubious honor of playing in the SEC West. The defining games for the Bulldogs will come the second week vs. Auburn and 3 weeks later at home again to play the University of Tennessee. Both of these conference foes have comparable match-ups down the board and should prove to be great indicators as to who will comprise the middle class of the SEC.
4. Auburn: 6-6 overall (3-5 in SEC)
Only one season removed from being BCS National Champions, the Auburn Tigers have most definitely fallen from grace. They had a relatively decent year last season going 8-5 overall, though they lost one of the most important members from their championship team, running back Michael Dyer. The Tigers opening game against Clemson will show just how ready Auburn is for the 2012 college football season.
3. Alabama: 10-2 overall (6-2 in SEC)
That’s right. The defending National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide will not even finish second in their division. There are two key reasons for this with the first being the exodus of players the Crimson Tide has lost to this year’s NFL Draft, as well as the ascension of the University of Arkansas. Alabama’s defense has been depleted as well as standout running back Trent Richardson and wide out Marquis Maze on the offensive side of the ball.
2. Arkansas: 11-1 overall (7-1 in SEC)
The Arkansas Razorbacks are a team poised to finally establish their own SEC West legacy. With 4 of the last 5 BCS National Championships being earned by SEC West programs, Arkansas appears ready to step into the national spotlight. Returning most of their key players, there is no doubt that there are two games circled on the schedule of every Razorback fan. Both of these games will be at home against Alabama in week 3, and LSU on the final weekend of the season.
1. LSU: 12-0 overall (8-0 in SEC)
Tasting defeat in the BCS National Championship last season to the rival Alabama Crimson Tide has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the LSU Tigers. Returning many future first round draft picks on the defensive side of the ball as well as consistent offensive starters such as wide receivers Russell Shepard and Odell Beckham has LSU to be the favorite to win the SEC as well as the National Championship. Perhaps their most critical ‘test’ will come on November 3rd when they host Alabama; however, there is little doubt that LSU will have to finish the season strong as their last game comes on the road against a hungry Arkansas team.
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