As the 2012 college football season draws nearer, Crimson White Sports will take a look at each team in the SEC, give our thoughts on how they will do in the league this year, and give some key matchups vs. Alabama, if they are on the Tide’s 2012 schedule. Up next: Auburn.
2011 record: 8-5 (4-4 SEC)
Final AP ranking: Not Ranked
After winning the BCS Championship in 2010, the Auburn Tigers took a few steps back in 2011. The Tigers started the season 4-1, with a win over SEC East foe South Carolina. The Tigers seemed to be quieting the critics who said they couldn’t win without Cam Newton.
But after the 4-1 start, things slowly fell apart. The Tigers couldn’t settle on a quarterback and former coordinator Gus Malzahn and the offense suffered. Auburn went 4-4 down the stretch, getting throttled by in-state rival Alabama in the Iron Bowl, 42-12.
Auburn finished its season with a 43-24 win over Virginia in the Chik-fil-A Bowl.
Key returning starters: RB Onterio McCalebb, WR Emory Blake, LB Daren Bates
2012 outlook: Auburn has a brutal schedule in 2012 and will be tested right out of the game. An opening day neutral site showdown against Clemson will show the world if Auburn is ready to compete nationally or if the Tigers will have a repeat of the 2011 season.
The quarterback situation is still unsolved and Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier will compete for the starting spot. The Tigers will also be working with a new offensive and defensive coordinator in Scot Loeffler and Brain VanGorder, respectively.
The talent is there for the Tigers, but it will take a masterpiece of a coaching job by Gene Chizik and his staff to cover all of the holes the team has. The tough schedule coupled with uncertainty at the quarterback position will cause Auburn to struggle in 2012. The Tigers will finish 8-5 with a bowl victory.
Key games in 2012:
- September 1 vs. Clemson
- September 22 vs. LSU
- November 24 vs. Alabama
Key matchups vs. Alabama (Nov. 24 @ Alabama)
- Auburn front seven vs. Alabama running backs: Last season, Alabama’s rushing attack shredded Auburn’s defense for 213 yards. Auburn’s defensive lineman and linebackers will be tested early and often against Alabama’s stable of running backs. If the Tigers don’t stop the run, it will be the 2011 Iron Bowl all over again.
- Clint Moseley/Kiehl Frazier vs. Alabama secondary: Alabama’s secondary held Auburn’s passing game to just 62 yards in 2011. Moseley or Frazier should have more success against a young Tide secondary, but it will still be a tough out for the Tigers.
As the 2012 college football season draws nearer, Crimson White Sports will take a look at each team in the SEC, give our thoughts on how they will do in the league this year, and give some key matchups vs. Alabama, if they are on the Tide’s 2012 schedule. Up first: Arkansas.
2011 record: 11-2 (6-2 SEC)
Final AP ranking: 5
In 2011, the Arkansas Razorbacks entered the season as a dark horse candidate to win the SEC. Alabama and LSU were the class of the league, but many believed that Bobby Petrino and the Hogs could pull off an upset or two and represent the SEC West in Atlanta. Things didn’t exactly work out as they hoped in Fayetteville, but Arkansas still finished with a respectable 11-2 record, with its only losses coming to the Tide and Tigers.
Alabama gave Arkansas a pretty good beating in Tuscaloosa, winning 38-14, and despite the 41-17 final score, the Razorbacks had a fighting chance against LSU. Arkansas jumped out to a 14-0 lead, only to give it right back to LSU and never fight back.
Arkansas finished its season with a 29-16 win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
Key returning starters: QB Tyler Wilson, RB Knile Davis, LB Alonzo Highsmith
2012 outlook: Arkansas could be really good or really bad in 2012. There are obviously a lot of questions surrounding the head coaching position after Bobby Petrino was dismissed in the offseason and John L. Smith was brought in to replace him.
The Razorbacks could rally around Smith and use the offensive talent they have on their roster to make a run at the SEC West – Arkansas gets Alabama and LSU at home this year – or they could let the distractions get the best of them and lose five or six games. The talent is certainly there, it’s just going to come down to whether Smith can get his players to play focused, determined football. I’ll predict the Hogs to finish 9-4 with a bowl victory.
Key games in 2012:
- September 15 vs. Alabama
- November 10 @ South Carolina
- November 23 vs. LSU
Key matchups vs. Alabama (9-15 @ Arkansas)
- Tyler Wilson vs. Alabama secondary: Even though Arkansas lost a lot of talent at wide receiver (Joe Adams and Greg Childs), the Razorback passing attack will still be a formidable one, led by one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC in Tyler Wilson. Alabama returns only Robert Lester and Dee Milliner in the secondary, so it will be up to inexperienced guys like Travell Dixon, Deion Belue and Vinnie Sunseri to step up early.
- Knile Davis vs. Alabama front seven: Davis missed the 2011 season with an ankle injury, but is looking to have a breakout year in 2012. He showed flashes of brilliance at the end of 2010 and could be one of the SEC’s top running backs in 2012 if he returns to form. Alabama will need to stop the run if it wants to have a chance on September 15th.
Today, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu got into it a little bit on twitter. It started out with a seemingly harmless tweet from Mathieu:
Golden Nugget, a sportsbook in Las Vegas, already has betting odds up for over 100 college football games. They have odds for nine of Alabama’s 12 games in 2012 – with no odds on the “cupcake” games vs. Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic and Western Carolina.
Here are those point spreads, courtesy of Covers.com:
Michigan vs. Alabama (-12)
Alabama at Arkansas (+6.5)
Mississippi at Alabama (-31)
Alabama at Missouri (+14)
Alabama at Tennessee (+17)
Mississippi State at Alabama (-24)
Alabama at LSU (-2)
Texas A&M at Alabama (-20)
Auburn at Alabama (-18)
Vegas is obviously very high on Alabama, predicting 10+ point wins in all but two of Alabama’s games this year. It’s interesting that the Arkansas number is so low, given the change in coaching staff, but Golden Nugget believes there won’t be too much of a drop off.
The two-point LSU spread essentially makes that game a toss up, but they give the edge to LSU, presumably, on home field advantage.
The sportsbooks are also predicting another Iron Bowl blowout, but we all know what happened last time Auburn came to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
If you’re like me, you know that the release of EA Sports’ new NCAA Football video game marks the beginning of the end of the long wait until football season. With the latest version, NCAA Football 2013, set to hit shelves on July 10, 2012, information is starting to come out about team rankings as well as some individual player rankings.
Let’s take a look at how Alabama stacks up in the new game:
Alabama basketball and head coach Anthony Grant received their first and only commitment for the 2012 class just in time, and it’s a big one.
Devonta Pollard, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward, announced today that he will be signing with the Crimson Tide and will be eligible to play in the upcoming 2012-2013 season. He chose Alabama ahead of Texas, Georgetown, Missouri and LSU among others.
247 Sports rates Pollard as a five-star prospect, the eighth-best small forward and 26th overall prospect in the class of 2012. Rivals.com calls Pollard a five-star prospect, seventh-best at his position and 22nd-best overall.
For everyone worrying about how the SEC’s two new additions would affect the football and basketball schedule – namely, the longstanding Alabama vs. Tennessee rivalry – SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has your answer.
At this week’s SEC meetings in Destin, Florida, Slive said the league will use a 6-1-1 format in football, where teams will play every team in their division once, have a permanent, cross-division rival and one team from the other division that rotates annually, according to the AP’s Mark Long.
The cross-division rivals in football will remain the same, except Arkansas will be paired with Missouri and Texas A&M with South Carolina, according to Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News. Long says the 6-1-1 format is only temporary for now and could be changed later.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
South Carolina at St. John’s
Seton Hall at LSU
Kentucky at Notre Dame
Marquette at Florida
Friday, November 30, 2012
Georgia at South Florida
DePaul at Auburn
Tennessee at Georgetown
Syracuse at Arkansas
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Mississippi State at Providence
Rutgers at Ole Miss
Alabama at Cincinnati
Villanova at Vanderbilt