Another bust from SEC?

The national media types may not agree on who will be college football's 2006 version of Tennessee (a high-ranking team that falls flat) but they seem to agree on one thing: It will be a Southeastern Conference team … again.

Recently asked to peg the nation's most overrated team heading into the 2006 season, Pete Fiutak of collegefootballnews.com tabbed the Florida Gators. Now Stewart Mandel of SportsIllustrated.com has responded to a similar question in his "College Football Mailbag" by selecting another SEC program.

In a web note entitled "Bayou bust? Like Tennessee in '05, LSU may be a bit overrated," Mandel opens by recapping the freefall suffered by the 2005 Vols. He writes:

"I don't have the cojones to sit here and predict that one of the likely preseason top three teams (as Tennessee was last year) is going to wind up going 5-6, but there is at least one highly ranked squad that has all the makings of a big-time bust. That team, I'm sorry to report, is LSU."

Mandel notes that LSU has three major areas of concern. The first is a "quarterback controversy" involving JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn. The second is depleted offensive and defensive lines. The third is the fact top running backs Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent are coming off ACL injuries.

After discussing these potential problems, Mandel couldn't resist taking a little dig at Tennessee in his final paragraph. He writes:

"Of course, I myself overlooked all these when I ranked LSU No. 5 in my post-spring Top 25. But having had more time to think about it, I can't possibly see the Tigers losing fewer than three times in a schedule that includes road games at Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas. The only question is whether there will be an all-out implosion, like last year's Vols."


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