Drive-By Conference Previews: The SEC And The Non-AQs

In order to give you, dear reader, a better understanding of the upcoming college football season, we here at Black Shoe Diaries are bringing to you the most thorough previews of the national college football landscape you'll find anywhere. In the span of a few, knowledge-packed sentences, we'll stuff your mind with information you can find literally nowhere else.

I've been tasked with previewing the Southeastern Conference, as well as some of the more notable teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences. You'll find the information explosion after the jump.

 

Let's start in the SEC East. The teams are listed in the order that I think they'll finish the season.

South Carolina Gamecocks

There's talent all over the place for the 'Cocks, from RB Marcus Lattimore to WR Alshon Jeffery to DE Jadeveon Clowney. Their mercurial QB, Stephen Garcia, however, will be the key to their success, and I'm sure that's a terrifying proposition for Sakerlina fans. They'll win the division, but probably lose to Vanderbilt or someone else they have no business losing to. It's the South Carolina way. Also: Head Ball Coach continues to shoot from the hip.

Georgia Bulldogs

On the plus side of things, Aaron Murray is arguably the best QB in the SEC.  On the negative side, Georgia's depending on several freshmen to make big impacts this year, specifically RB Isaiah Crowell since Caleb King and Washaun Ealey's departures left the program thin in the backfield. If the kids don't deliver, Mark Richt very well could be gone after the season. Listen, I'll be honest with you. Georgia is basically second place in the East by default, as the rest of the division have just as many, if not more problems than the Bulldogs. Also: Mark Richt's tan is immaculate.

Florida Gators

The Gators have a lot of talent, but the offensive scheme change will likely be bumpy. Especially when Charlie Weis gets cranky in the early September Florida heat and completely abandons the running game midway through the first quarter. The defense should be good, but that's assuming the players didn't melt under the heat of Will Muschamp's withering gaze. Also: Will Muschamp looks like the kind of guy that tucks t-shirts into jeans.

Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols are still a year away from challenging for the division crown. Their two deep still has far too much inexperience in it, especially after losing Janzen Jackson earlier today. Slowly but surely, though, they're getting there. Tyler Bray appears to be the real deal at QB, and he has the ink to prove it. Also: Derek Dooley's hair hatched from an egg laid by Jimmy Johnson's head.

Kentucky Wildcats

The Wildcats lost their starting QB, RB and best WR from last year. That doesn't sound like a formula for success for a team that had it's moments last year, but still finished the season 6-6. Also: Joker Phillips is a grown man that goes by "Joker."

Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt's had two winning seasons in the past 30 years. This season will not be the third. Also: James Franklin... may not have been a bad hire.

And now for the West.

Alabama Crimson Tide

The only hole this team may have is at quarterback, but the good ship Crimson Tide can probably pilot itself without one. Even after losing Marcel Dareus, the defense should require a background check and a five day waiting period before being deployed against offenses. Also: Nick Saban is short.

LSU Tigers

Since trying to predict a Les Miles team's performance is a pointless venture, I leave you with this.

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You'll find that it explains everything in sufficient detail. Rest assured, the Bayou Bengals will be good, and they will do something completely insane on a weekly basis. Also: Did I mention that Les Miles is crazy?

Arkansas Razorbacks

Had Arkansas not lost RB Knile Davis for the season to an ankle injury, I'd be tempted to say the Hawgs could win the whole SEC. Without him, new starting QB Tyler Wilson will face a lot more pressure, and the defense has yet to prove that it can stop a good offense. Also: Bobby Petrino is a dick.

Texas A&M Aggies

Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have come a long way under Dan Mullen, but unless Chris Relf suddenly became a viable passer I'm not sure they have what it takes to really make a run at the SEC West crown. The defense is tough, but ultimately I think MSU will end up losing a lot of close games against the upper-tier of the SEC. Also: Dan Mullen's side part is eternally crisp.

Auburn Tigers

Cam Newton is gone. Fourteen other starters from last season are gone too. I have faith that Gus Malzahn's offense will put up points, but the Tigers/Eagles/Plainsmen will take an inevitable step back this year. Also: Gene Chizik looks like this. (H/T: The incomparable Thujone)

Ole Miss Rebels

The Rebs lost to FCS Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt last year. Both of those games were at home. One of the QBs fighting for the starting job this offseason just got arrested, handing the starting job to something called a Barry Brunetti. I can keep going, but I'm not sure I have to. The Rebels do have talent, but the lack of program organization is preventing them from taking a step forward. Also:

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Houston Nutt is Houston Nutt.

For those of you keeping score at home, that means I think South Carolina and Alabama will meet in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. I think Alabama should probably win handily, but Jadeveon Clowney may kill everyone on the Tide roster before the end of the first half, so, you know, there's that.

Non-AQs! Onward!

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

This is the year Notre Dame RETURNS TO GLORY! No seriously... I know we've heard that before, but this may be the year. The Irish have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and a maneuverable schedule. Dayne Crist was just named the starter at QB, which is the right move for a team that's trying to win this season. Also: Brian Kelly continues to advocate aggressive chocolate milk acquisition.

Boise State Broncos

The Broncos lost their offensive coordinator to Texas and their top two receivers to the NFL. Normally, that's a recipe for a letdown, don't be shocked if Boise strolls into Atlanta next weekend and beats Georgia. No team prepares better for big games than Boise State, as Oklahoma and Virginia Tech can both tell you. Also: Chris Petersen is, uhhh, a really good coach? I got nothin'.

TCU Horned Frogs

2011 is the Horned Frogs' swan song in the Mountain West before heading to the Big East. They have to replace a lot of skill players on offense, but should still contend for the conference title. It all comes down to the game in Boise that should've been in Fort Worth. Also: Gary Patterson looks like he dominates on the LPGA Tour.

The Service Academies

There's a non-zero chance that all three service academies make it to a bowl this season. Normally Air Force and Navy are very competent teams, but over the past few years Army has made the long, slow trudge back to respectability under Rich Ellerson. Do all three make a bowl again this year? Sure! Also: Ken Niumatalolo's name is awesome, hard to spell.

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