Who will win the SEC West in 2011?

by Kavin Caruso
(Georgia )

That’s the question, who WILL win the West division in the SEC?

Every football magazine and newspaper in the south is asking that question.

Most think Alabama will win the division because of running back Mark Barron.

Some say LSU, they still have Jordan Jefferson. His three year record at LSU is 20-7.

LSU did get former UGA quarterback Zach Mettenberger, he played for Butler, a junior college last year. In the USA Today special edition of college football, they predict LSU to face Oregon Ducks in the Sugar Bowl. Well these two teams face each other on September 3rd in Arlington, Texas. If these two teams play down to the last second, watch out! Oregon Ducks can do some damage in the new Pac 12. LSU still have their main man, Jefferson Jordan. Coach Les Miles can still coach and recruit; they also have running back Spencer Ware. Spencer Ware will be a double threat to the LSU Multiple offense. On defense, led by defensive coordinator John Chavis, he runs a 4-3 defense; he’s got linebacker Ryan Baker and linebacker Stefoin Francois. This defense will be tough, can’t wait to see them play Alabama on November 5th at Tuscaloosa. Winner of that Alabama-LSU should be in the driver seat for the SEC West title.

Alabama will start the season at home against Kent State on September 3rd. The main question is who will be the starting quarterback? Well there’s a sophomore A.J. McCarron and redshirt freshman Philip Sims. Alabama will have four returning starters on the offensive line. Alabama runs a Pro style offense, which offense can produce points in the passing game. Since Alabama won’t have Mark Ingram a former Heisman winner in 2009 and won’t have wide receiver Julio Jones, they will have to rely on Trent Richardson and Darius Hanks. On the defensive side of the ball, Alabama runs a 3-4 defense. Mark Barron, the senior safety had 3 interceptions last year and led the team with 75 tackles. The Crimson Tide’s defense should have more depth to make a run for the SEC West division title.

The Arkansas Razorbacks should win at least 9 games this season. The Razorbacks will have Knile Davis at running back this year; last season he rushed for 1,322 yards and had 13 touchdowns. They will also have wide receiver Joe Adams; he had 50 receptions in 2010. Quarterback Tyler Wilson who is replacing Ryan Mallet, will be starting quarterback for the Razorbacks. Look for him to throw some passes to his tight ends. He will be a learning quarterback. Because the Razorbacks lost both starting tackles and a guard, the offensive line will be inexperienced. Arkansas defense will be the key to keep Arkansas in the games. Arkansas will have to play at LSU and at Alabama. If Arkansas can win both games, they will be a tough opponent in their bowl games. They did play well in the Sugar Bowl last season against Ohio State.

Ole Miss has never won the SEC West title. During the 1990’s the school was hit hard by recruiting violations and was placed on probation. Ole Miss hasn’t won more than 8 games in a season. Houston Nutt in his 4th season will be on the hot seat if the team can win the big games. Houston Nutt has won the West division at Arkansas, he will have Brandon Bolden at running back, and also he will have a new quarterback. Quarterback Nathan Stanley will replace Jeremiah Masoli, hopefully Nathan Stanley can rely on the running game to beat the defense. Ole Miss will have 14 players back from last year’s squad. If Ole Miss can beat Alabama, LSU, and Georgia then they will have a shot at the West division.

The Auburn Tigers will probably start from scratch this season. Without quarterback Cam Newton, the offense will be just an average joe. I am not messing around on that. Auburn is only getting 6 returning starters from the 2010 championship team. Michael Dyer, the running back will be the main player in the offense. He rushed for 1,093 yards last year; can he repeat that this season? Maybe, if Auburn got Russell Wilson then they would’ve had a shot at the West title. Nick Fairley, NT is gone, also kicker Wes Byrum is not with the team. Auburn does have wide receiver Emory Blake. He can make some exciting plays for Auburn. I predict Auburn winning maybe 6 games this year.

Mississippi State had a good season last year. They beat Georgia at home, also beat Florida at Gainesville. Mississippi State Bulldogs will have 15 returning starters this year.

Coach Dan Mullen will keep this program going in the right direction. Quarterback Chris Relf threw 13 touchdowns last year. He should have more this year. Mississippi State can do some real damage this year. They get Alabama at home this year, maybe with a sellout; the Bulldogs will beat the Crimson Tide. Usually these two teams go down the wire. Mississippi State hasn’t won the SEC West since 1998 season. They will be an improve team. I predict maybe winning 9 games this year.

So who will win the SEC West division title this year? Alabama? LSU? Arkansas? Whoever it will be, the west will be a tough division to win. It won’t be easy.

If the team who wins the west is undefeated, that team will be running for the National Championship game again.

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