f his produiThis year, a lot of hope arrived on The Plains in the former of Baylor graduate transfer QB Jarrett Stidham, who has a bullet arm and an ability to play the Gus Malzahn offense. But will it be enough to beat Alabama, who arrive – yet again – stacked despite losing some real heroes in their defense?

Here’s the SEC Football Blog’s SEC West Preview. Enjoy….

  1. Alabama (12-0): Alabama’s going to have to replace Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson, Dalvin Tomlinson and Tim Williams. That’s a hell of a lot of talent. But they’ll re-load. There’s also the fact that offensely, Jaylen Hurts might have to do less than last year because he’s got an absolutely filthy RB trio in Bo Scarborough, Damien Harris and Joshua Jacobs. Oh, and after the Florida State game, we can’t see any worries in the schedule until they play LSU. At home. The biggest game for them will be the Iron Bowl with a much-improved Auburn team. Both teams might be undefeated going into that game, which will make it fun… WINS SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
  2. Auburn (11-1): As mentioned in our introduction, the arrival of Jarrett Stidham from Baylor has left a lot of Auburn fans drooling at the mouth (stop your farmer jokes here, people!). Not only that, but his bullet arm will be helped by a trio of top running backs in Kamryn Pettway, Kerryon Johnson and Kam Martin, and the fact that Auburn’s also got an experienced line that adds two more transfers. Defensively, the loss of Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams will hurt the Tigers. There’s still experience in the secondary, and LB DeShaun Davis in a stud.
  3. LSU (10-2 (losses to Alabama and Auburn)): Derrius Guice is an awesome, fun-to-watch running back who can destroy a defense with his speed. He’ll definitely put up the yards – although against whom will be the biggest test. While it’s all well and good putting up big numbers on Chattanooga, if he and the offensive line don’t perform against Florida, Auburn and Alabama in an evil month of October-to-November, LSU will have problems. That won’t be helped by the fact that Danny Etling isn’t great (his 2,000 yards and 11 TDs passing were undone by the fact that he had a QB passing average of 59.6), and he’s returning as the starting QB, showing the lack of depth LSU has at QB. Defensively, LSU is a shining light, with so much talent all over the board, highlighted by LB Arden Key, who was unworldly last year. The problem for us is the schedule: Will they be able to stand the triple-battering in October to November? We think they lose the Auburn and Alabama games.
  4. Texas A&M (8-4 (losses to LSU, Alabama, Auburn, and UCLA): Texas A&M’s going to adapt and adapt fast to a couple of things: The loss of one of the best DEs College Station has ever seen in Myles Garrett, as well as having a very fresh QB in Jake Hubenak taking over the offense (oh, as well as most of the WRs targets leaving, too). We love Christian Kirk’s offensive threat from special teams, and if his production picks up as a WR, he’ll be one of the most dangerous players in college football. Trayveon Williams is also a star running back, and if the offensive line does the job, it’ll take the pressure on Hubenak. If.
  5. Mississippi State (7-5): We’d just love to mention that we love QB Nick Fitzgerald. He’s unpredictable, fun to watch, and last year was weirdly hard-to-stop when he ran with the ball instead of using his, ahem, mediocre arm. Fitzgerald may have to run a lot more if MSU’s offensive line – which isn’t that great – doesn’t do its work. On the other side of the ball, Dan Mullen’s decision to swap DCs with Louisville means that Todd Grantham makes a return to the SEC after leaving Georgia. His very aggressive defenses were a lot of fun to watch, but if you’re a Mississippi State fan, but you’ll be praying that his defenses don’t maintain the trajectory that they had when he left Athens, when they were getting worse and worse. There were just too many people missing tackles. Still, the biggest game of the season’s The Egg Bowl with Ole Miss, and it could be the one that sees them go to a bowl – or not.
  6. Ole Miss (6-6 (loses Mississippi State)): A lot has been said about this Ole Miss team coming into this season with a huge chip on their shoulder. Sure, they might start hot (we expect them to start 3-0 against football giants South Alabama, UT Martin and Cal), but how will the team’s mentality change if they get the floor wiped with them by Alabama on September 30th? Offensively, they shouldn’t miss a lot of tricks if Shea Patterson’s the QB that everyone thinks he is and his wide receivers don’t fall away, but defense could be an issue because of its lack of depth. The biggest game of Ole Miss’ year will be The Egg Bowl against Mississippi State. If they win that, they ruin Dan Mullen’s chances of being bowl-eligible. That could be a lot of fun.
  7. Arkansas (5-7): There’s a lot to like about Austin Allen, but this year, we’re really not that excited about the Hogs. As much at Bret Bielema rates himself as a coach, his SEC record in horrible (10-22). We get that they have to play in an evil SEC West, but 10-22 is 10-22. And as much as that there is insistence that Arkansas’ highest-paid state employee ($4.1m per year, since you ask) is not on the hot seat, we’ve got a question: Why in the heck not? 2017 won’t be easy, with a lot of the defensive corps departed, and on the other side of ball, a lot of Allen’s receivers have got too – as well as one of the best TEs in the country in Jeremy Sprinkle, who we think will have a big NFL future. A lot will depend on Devwah Whaley, Allen’s top RB, as well as Bielema’s offensive line, which is projected to be better than their coach’s SEC record.
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