By John P. Wise
One Great Season
NEW YORK -- SEC previews must be difficult for newspaper writers bound by spacial limitations because there are so many good teams, players, coaches, games and possibilities to talk about.
So let me cut right through any mystery and jump on the Florida bandwagon. The Gators will win another national championship this year.
If Tim Tebow has a healthy senior year, he'll go down as the best quarterback to ever play college football. And Urban Meyer is the best young coach in the game right now. And I haven't even mentioned Florida's defense, which is fast and mean and physical and overall nasty. I would not want to meet them in a dark alley, or even in a packed church on a Sunday morning.
The SEC is so deep that only Mississippi State is a guarantee not to earn a bowl berth. Kentucky, a joke of a program until the last few years, could very well finish last in the East, but still is a threat to earn a postseason invitation somewhere. That's a testament to the league's top-to-bottom superiority.
I like what Mark Richt has done at Georgia in terms of scheduling. He sought out an away date at Arizona State to open last season, and will kick off at Oklahoma State this year. The Bulldogs should challenge Florida in the East, but probably won't beat them head to head at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Oct. 31.
Keep an eye this season on Knoxville, where new Vols coach Lane Kiffin made plenty of enemies long before his first game. Things will be just as interesting at South Carolina, where the Gamecocks will only be decent, but you can never sleep on Steve Spurrier. Even Vanderbilt will be a player in the East with 17 starters returning from a team that earned the school's first bowl win in more than 50 years.
And then there's the West, where LSU and Alabama will battle it out once again. Some are picking Ole Miss, led by quarterback Jevan Snead, to surprise, but like North Carolina in the ACC, I'll believe it when I see it. Arkansas returns 18 starters and should be solid on both sides of the ball. Auburn -- remember the Tigers? -- will struggle in new coach Gene Chizik's first season.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
BEST GAME ON THE SCHEDULE: Florida at LSU, Oct. 10