SEC forecast: No repeat for Tebow, Saban scores upset
The BCS crystal football hasn't left Dixie since 2005, and now Georgia is predicted by many to follow Florida and LSU as national champions. Clearly, the stakes are higher in the Southeastern Conference than anywhere else. Of course, so are the attendance figures and coaches' salaries. This season should be like any other in the SEC: fast, furious and having a direct impact on the title race.
1. Winner of the Cocktail Party will play for the national title.
Florida and Georgia have both been in the top 10 four times when they've staged their annual brawl in Jacksonville; this year, for the first time, they could both be in the top five. And there will be plenty of pregame chatter about Mark Richt's rush-the-end-zone ploy last year.
2008 SEC Preview
The SEC has delivered the last two national champions. The reigning Heisman winner is from SEC country. What will the conference provide in 2008?
• Low: Uncertain QB landscape
• Low: Tebow still learning
• Maisel: UGA's great expectations
• Opportunity for South Carolina
• Skill threat: UT's Eric Berry
• Forde: Five SEC predictions
• SportsNation: Vote on SEC
2. Tim Tebow will not repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner.
Florida will have more options at running back, which means fewer carries for its bulldozer quarterback. And fickle voters who love finding flaws will overlook them in fresher candidates.
3. Jordan Jefferson will get on the field for LSU -- early.
With a good August, the touted true freshman quarterback could wind up at the controls of a low-risk offense by week No. 3 against North Texas. Redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee and Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch are not the answer.
4. Mississippi will be the surprise team of the year.
Houston Nutt walks into a pretty swell situation: 16 returning starters, including a veteran offensive line; a talented transfer quarterback in Jevan Snead; and a user-friendly schedule (Ole Miss draws Florida from the East but not Georgia or Tennessee). With good play and good luck, the Rebels could be 5-1 by mid-October, which would be more victories on the season than they've had since 2003.
5. Nick Saban will pull an upset -- either to open or close the regular season.
Alabama opens in Atlanta against Clemson, which is ranked in the top 10. It closes, of course, with Auburn -- potentially another top-10 opponent. The Crimson Tide will win one of the two, either spoiling Clemson's season early or ending their losing streak to Auburn late.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.
2008 College Football Preview
The long wait for the start of the 2008 college football season is finally over. Get ready for the season with an in-depth look at the teams, trends, players and coaches. Index
• Maisel: Let the campaign '08 debate begin
• Bloggers: State of each conference
• Schlabach: Hot and not for 2008
• Maisel: Full speed ahead for offenses
• Maisel: Defending the fast-tempo spread
• Maisel: Nation's fastest teams
• Forde: SEC coaches in a league of their own
• Forde: Johnson stuck as SEC's roadie
• Schlabach: The nation's alpha-male coaches
• Schlabach: Coaches on the hot seat
• Maisel: Road left to travel for black coaches
• Schlabach: Critical mass await Ohio State
• Edwards: Are BCS voter tired of the Buckeyes?
• Edwards: Parity puts BCS at crossroads
• Feldman: Ten best-kept secrets
2008 Preseason All-America team
• Maisel: Preseason All-America team
What to watch
• Eighth annual Herbie Awards
• ESPN's experts' predictions
• Schlabach: Games to watch
• Schlabach: Intriguing games
• Bloggers: Preseason conference predictions
• Bloggers: Games to watch
• Schlabach: Clemson craving title
• Dinich: In the Wake of success
• Dinich: Coast toast for Hokies?
• ACC needs Canes, Noles to win
• Rittenberg: Innovation not new to Big Ten
• Rittenberg: UM QBs adapt to offense
• Schlabach: Pryor's role with Ohio State
• Maisel: Big 12 QBs face burden of proof
• Griffin: Where have the Big 12 runners gone?
• Griffin: Northern exposure
• Feldman: Is Crabtree the best college WR ever?
• Schlabach: Stewart's challenge at West Virginia
• Bennett: Knight moves focused on Teel
• Tulsa building foundation for success
• Pirates sailing toward uncharted waters
• Watson: Are the Irish coming of age?
• Watson: Tenuta's tenacious D
• Maisel: Army exploring its options
• Watson: MAC QBs hope to share the spotlight
• Dinich: Golden touch working at Temple
• Watson: NIU's Kill found new perspective
• Watson: BYU-Utah going national?
• Watson: TCU looks to regroup
• Maisel: Son also rises at UCLA
• Miller: Stable is the USC Way
• Miller: Huskies counting on Locker
• Low: SEC's uncertain QB landscape
• Low: Tebow still learning
• Maisel: Richt knows expectations
• Schlabach: Coach, QB to keep Owls soaring
• Watson: Will tough schedule propel Fresno State?
• Watson: QB battle has Nevada thinking big
• Georgia tops preseason power rankings
• Preseason Bottom 10: Lollapaloozers
• Conference preseason power rankings
• Bloggers: Ranking the coaches | Hot seat
• Predict the college football upsets each week.
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