SEC West forecast

LSU may not win every game it plays this season but the Tigers should be the most talented team on the field in every game they play.

Sure, LSU lost four first-round NFL Draft picks from the 2006 team but the replacements are almost as good. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell had all-world potential last year but he struggled against quality foes. Look for senior Matt Flynn to prove more than capable as his successor this fall.

The Tigers also lost two first-round picks at wide receiver – Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis – but they return Early Doucet, who just might be the best receiver in college football this season.

Thus, the only significant loss from '06 was safety LaRon Landry. If Les Miles can find a suitable replacement for him, LSU has a chance to win every contest it plays this fall, including the BCS national championship game.

Basically, the 2007 SEC Western Division race is a three-team battle for second place among the three A's – Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn. Each should be solid but none appears capable of seriously challenging LSU.

Nick Saban won't turn Bama around in one year but he'll make strides in that direction. He'll benefit considerably from a schedule that sees Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU – arguably the Tide's four toughest foes – visiting Tuscaloosa.

Arkansas has endured a ton of offseason turmoil that may bleed into the regular season. Even if it doesn't, the Hogs have to play road games at Tennessee, at Alabama and at LSU.

Quarterback Brandon Cox is healthy again, and that's a plus for Auburn. On the down side, the Tigers play their first 11 games without an open date. Their SEC road schedule is daunting, too – at Florida, at Arkansas, at Georgia and at LSU.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State, as usual, bring up the rear in the Western Division. I'm picking the Bulldogs fifth simply because this year's Egg Bowl is in Starkville.

Here are my SEC West projections:

1. LSU 8-0

2. Alabama 5-3

3. Arkansas 5-3

4. Auburn 4-4

5. Mississippi State 1-7

6. Ole Miss 0-8

After winning the Western Division, LSU should dispatch Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game and possibly play for the BCS national title.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories