Marshall: Picking the SEC Divisional Winners

Columnist Phillip Marshall gives his take on how all 12 SEC football teams will finish the regular season.

Seven weeks into the college football season, if nothing else, we've learned that there are no super teams.

Every season, the effort begins early to anoint someone as unbeatable. In recent years, it always seems to start with Southern California.

Once the Trojans were proved human this season, LSU stepped into their place. Somehow or other, because LSU made five fourth-down conversions against Florida, Les Miles became a super coach with super players who couldn't lose.

Lo and behold, that only lasted a week. The super coach with super players lost in triple-overtime at Kentucky. And we are left with Ohio State ranked No. 1 despite having played nobody and the amazing sight of South Florida and Boston College being No. 2 and No. 3.

Is Ohio State the best team in the country? Probably not. Are South Florida and Boston College the second and third best teams in the country? Almost certainly not. But if not Ohio State, South Florida and Boston College, then who?

The truth is that there is just no way to know. The best team on a given Saturday might not be the best team the next Saturday. It's a game played by college kids, and they don't play the same way week in and week out.

For those who yearn for a clear-cut champion, maybe it's not a good thing. But it's reality. That's why Auburn can lose to Mississippi State and beat Florida and Arkansas on the road. That's why LSU can overwhelm Virginia Tech 48-7 and lose to a basketball school.

That's why Auburn, LSU and Alabama all control their own destinies in the SEC West. That's why Kentucky and South Carolina have as much chance to win the East as Florida or Tennessee. And that's why the next five weeks should be a lot of fun.

For the fun of it, here are my revised predictions for how things will shake in the end.

SEC WEST

1. LSU 11-1, 7-1. If the Bayou Bengals get by Auburn on Saturday night, they should have clear sailing against Alabama, Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

2. Auburn 8-4, 5-3. If Tommy Tuberville can continue his road magic, the Tigers could well swap places with LSU.

3. Alabama 7-5, 4-4. Only the bounce of the ball and a couple of timely officials' calls have kept the Tide in the race. But a win over Tennessee at home Saturday could make things interesting.

4. Arkansas 6-6, 2-6. Houston Nutt is playing out the string as Arkansas head coach.

5. Mississippi State 5-7, 2-6. The Bulldogs are better than they have been, but not good enough.

6.Ole Miss 3-9, 0-8. The Rebels really aren't a bad team, but they're not real good either. They might be good enough to beat Arkansas, but probably not. They are not likely good enough to beat Auburn or LSU and probably won't win at Mississippi State.

SEC EAST

1. Florida 10-2, 6-2. The Gators are still the most talented team in the East.

2. South Carolina 10-2, 6-2. The Gamecocks and Gators could settle it all in Columbia on Nov. 10.

3. Kentucky 9-3, 5-3. If the Wildcats can pull another upset and beat the Gators in Lexington on Saturday, they might become the favorite.

Quarterback Andre Woodson has Kentucky positioned to make a run at the SEC East title.

4. Tennessee 8-4, 5-3. If the Vols don't beat Alabama on Saturday, talk of Phillip Fulmer's job security will heat up again.

5. Georgia 9-3, 5-3. The Bulldogs have a challenging finish with Florida in Jacksonville, Troy, Auburn and Kentucky in Athens and Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

6. Vanderbilt 4-8, 1-7. The Commodores have their best team in several years, but it's still not good enough.

Of course, all these predictions can and probably will turn out to be wrong. Three teams--LSU, Auburn and Alabama--remain very much alive in the West Division race. Other than Vanderbilt, any East Division team could still make a run.

Stay tuned.


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