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: Tennessee.
2011 record: 5-7 (1-7 SEC)
Final AP ranking: Unranked
The Volunteers shot out of the gate early last season with a 3-1 record. But then the Vols got into the meat of its SEC schedule and lost four straight. The Vols were able to win one conference game against Vanderbilt, but a loss to rival Kentucky put head coach Derek Dooley on the hottest coaching seat in the country.
The 2011 season was full of injuries and missed opportunities for the Vols. After making a bowl game in Dooley’s first year, the Vols took a step back in 2011. The Vols had the talent, but injuries derailed what could have been a decent season for Tennessee.
Key returning starters: QB Tyler Bray, WR Justin Hunter, WR Da’Rick Rogers
2012 outlook: This is a make or break season for head coach Derek Dooley and his staff. If quarterback Tyler Bray can stay healthy, the Vols will be able to compete with any team offensively. Bray will also get his top target Justin Hunter back from a knee injury and wide out Da’Rick Rogers has also emerged as a go to guy.
The Vols will have to find a running back to compete in the SEC and the defense will have to improve. The tough schedule and lack of running game could spell trouble for the Vols in 2012. Look for them to go 6-6 and barely make a bowl game, which may not be enough to save Dooley’s job.
Key games in 2012:
- September 15 vs. Florida
- September 29 @ Georgia
- October 27 @ South Carolina
Key matchups vs. Alabama (10-20 @ Tennessee)
- Tennessee wide receivers vs. Alabama secondary: Tennessee receivers caught a grand total of nine passes for 63 yards against the Tide last season. With Justin Hunter healthy, those totals should rise. But the Tide’s young secondary will be looking to make a statement against top receivers in the SEC.
- Tyler Bray vs. Nick Saban and Kirby Smart: Saban and Smart have made a career of terrorizing talented quarterbacks and will want nothing more than to make Bray’s time against the Tide a nightmare. Bray is supremely talented and a big game against Alabama would go a long way in helping his NFL draft stock.
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: Texas A&M
2011 record: 7-6 (4-5 Big 12)
Final AP ranking: Unranked
2011 was a serious, serious letdown for Texas A&M. The Aggies entered the season with one of the school’s highest preseason rankings, at No. 8 in the AP Poll, and was expected to make a legitimate run at the Big 12 Title, if not the national title. And for the first two weeks of the Aggies’ season, it looked like they were well on their way to that dream.
The following week, A&M suffered a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma State, giving up a double digit halftime lead to lose 30-29. Then, something weird happened. The next week, the Aggies gave up another huge halftime lead to eventually lose the game, this time to the Arkansas Razorbacks. With the loss, A&M’s national title hopes were over.
Still, the Aggies seemed to rebound over the next three weeks, with wins over Texas Tech, Baylor and eventual Heisman winner Robert Blake Griffin III, and Iowa State. That was about the last good thing to happen to the Aggies that season. The Aggies lost three of their next four games. Even worse, two of the losses featured, yet again, blown leads on the part of the Aggies (two 14-point leads against Kansas State and nine-point lead over Texas.)
The Aggies ended up making and winning the Meineke Car Care Bowl over Northwestern. Even with the win, it was an ultimately disappointing season for Texas A&M.
Key returning starters: RB Cyrus Gray, WR Ryan Swope, LB Sean Porter
2012 outlook: Much like their SEC East counterparts, the Texas A&M Aggies are going to have an interesting year finding out they do in the SEC. The Aggies should have a manageable first month to figure that out, with three cupcake teams and a manageable first game in the SEC in the Florida Gators.
The next month will show how well A&M will fare in the SEC. The Aggies will take on two of the best three teams in the SEC West, in Arkansas and LSU, a decent Auburn team and the Ole Miss Rebels. Two weeks later, the Bryant Bowl will get underway in Tuscaloosa visits the Crimson Tide. A&M will close out the season with a manageable final two games against Sam Houston State and Missouri.
My take on the Aggies? Another good-not-great season. The Aggies have the talent, just not on the level of the SEC, at least yet. And, assuming the Aggies have learned how to not blow their lead, look to see them win seven games in the regular season and make a bowl game.
Final line: 8-5 with a bowl win.
Key games in 2012:
- September 29 vs. Arkansas
- October 20 vs. LSU
- November 10 at Alabama
Key matchups vs. Alabama (11-10 @ Tuscaloosa)
- A&M linebackers vs. Alabama running backs: Texas A&M brings back its top three tacklers at the linebacker position, a unit that helped the defense hold opposing offenses to a paltry 118 yards per game in 2011, ranking them No. 2 in the Big 12. Alabama is a run-first team, so the A&M is going to have to slow down Eddie Lacy, Jalston Fowler and T.J. Yeldon if they want to have a shot at the win.
- A&M receivers vs. Alabama defensive backs: A&M is also bringing back its top three receivers from last year, one of whom had over 1200 yards receiving. And although they no longer have Ryan Tannehill throwing to them, these receivers are used to getting open. And for an Alabama secondary that’s breaking in new starters at three positions, these guys will pose a serious threat.
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: Missouri.
2011 record: 8-5 (5-4 Big 12)
Final AP ranking: Unranked
Missouri certainly had an interesting 2011. The Tigers started off the season 1-1, with an unimpressive win over Miami (Ohio) and a tough loss to Arizona State in Tempe. The Tigers followed up with a 69-0 thrashing of Western Kentucky, entering the meat of its season at 2-1.
The Tigers had a tough stretch during the middle of its season, losing four of its next six games, including losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State, all ranked teams. On Nov. 5, the Tigers added another loss to their record, this time to Baylor and eventual Heisman winner RGIII. Two days later, The Tigers were announced as the 14th member of the SEC.
Apparently the Tigers wanted to impress its future conference with a good showing for the rest of the year, and finished the regular season with three-straight wins and a bowl victory against North Carolina in the Independence Bowl. A slow start, a rough patch in the middle, and a smooth finish for the Tigers.
Key returning starters: QB James Franklin, RB Henry Josey, LB Andrew Wilson
2012 outlook: Missouri will enter its first year in a new conference as a mid-tier program, at least for SEC standards. Still, the Tigers are bringing in an impressive resume from the Big 12, landing near the top of the conference in a few key categories: rushing offense (229 yards per game) scoring defense (26 points per game) and total offense (459 yards per game).
The Tigers are going to have difficult games this year in Georgia, South Carolina Alabama and Florida. That first game against the Bulldogs will set the tone for the season, one way or another. And those games against Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama? Yeah, you can count those up as losses. However, Missouri will have manageable ‘tweener games from Southeastern Louisiana, Arizona State, UCF, Vanderbilt and Kentucky to maintain some semblance of a reasonable schedule.
My take on the Tigers: 9-4 with a bowl win. Welcome to the SEC, Missouri.
Key games in 2012:
- September 08 vs. Georgia
- September 15 vs. Arizona State
- November 03 at Florida
Key matchups vs. Alabama (9-13 @ Missouri)
- Missouri receivers vs. Alabama secondary: The Missouri Tigers’ passing offense was pedestrian last year, especially for Big 12 standards. Still, the Tigers are returning their quarterback, as well as two of their top three receivers from last year. Of course, the arrival of the top overall prospect in the nation, Dorial Green-Beckham, should be a boost for Missouri. Alabama’s secondary should be up to speed this far in the season however, so it should be an interesting matchup.
- Missouri rushing attack vs. Alabama front seven: Missouri will bring in a 1000-yard rushing from last year: running back Henry Josey. Should Josey remain bottled up, however, Missouri may rely on quarterback James Franklin, who had 981 yards rushing last season. Still, Alabama under Saban has been historically good against dual-threat quarterbacks.