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Story Archives: Who will be this year's Auburn?
|Who will be this year's Auburn?|
So who will be this year's Auburn?
Or for that matter, Connecticut, Nevada or Mississippi State.
Each year a team no one figured on crashing the party comes in and plays Cinderella at the ball.
Auburn certainly surprised everyone last season by running the table and winning the National Championship behind Cam Newton.
UConn finished 5-2 in the Big East and faced Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Nevada derailed Boise State's chance to compete in a BCS bowl and finished 13-1.
Mississippi State went 9-4, upsetting Georiga and Florida before destroying Michigan in the Gator Bowl.
So who will be the talk of the tailgate parties this season?
Florida State has been down in recent years, but it won't take long for Jimbo Fisher to make his presence known in Seminole land.
West Viriginia has the potential to rattle a few chains.
Oklahoma State has played the role of spoiler the past few years, but they have the potential to reach the next level.
Don't count out Texas because of last year's fluke season, although you can never realistically consider them a surprise.
Arkansas with Tyler Wilson may have some folks talking about someone else in the SEC West besides LSU and Alabama.
Michigan State was embarrassed by Alabama last year, but they could do some embarrassing of their own this season.
But if there is one team I look to as this year's Auburn it would come from, surprise, surprise, surprise, the Southeastern Conference.
I know, I know, they made it to the SEC championship game last year. But they will not be in many people's top 10 going into the season, and maybe not in the top 15 for some folks.
Let's face it, that was not your typical Florida team. Or Georgia team. Or Tennessee team. And the Gamecocks did lay a couple of eggs against Auburn and Florida State at the end of the season.
While 2010 was, arguably, the greatest year in the long and phenomenally mediocre history of South Carolina football, a lot of people are expecting things to return to normal in 2011.
Florida isn't going to be that bad again, Georgia will certainly be better, and teams are going to be gunning for the SEC East champs.
But the Gamecocks are loaded with the best trio of skill players in the conference in QB Stephen Garcia, WR Alshon Jeffery, and RB Marcus Lattimore. Seven starters are back on defense, and the recruiting class, led by the signing of NFL-ready defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, upgraded the talent level.
Sure, expectations are high, but who would seriously bet the ranch on South Carolina getting back to the championship game and beating Alabama, LSU or Arkansas?
A lot of experts will tell you the Gamecock offensive line is just not good enough to contend week in and week out in the SEC.
But I still think the ol' ball coach has one trick left up his sleeve. And he's going to play it this season.
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