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|Who wlll surprise team be in SEC?|
Full of surprises or not, underdogs simply don't have a place in the SEC these days.
Sure, we've heard the proverbial "any given Saturday" speech countless times, but the odds of a team not named LSU or Alabama winning the SEC are miniscule. But then again, Auburn came out of nowhere to win the conference two short years ago, didn't they?
While LSU and Alabama have a stamp on the SEC West, Georgia and South Carolina are the favorites in East.
But it doesn't bode well to overlook teams within the conference that are hungry for a return to glory.
Teams such as Florida.
Is the Gator offense in a state of flux? Yeah, that's a fair assessment, but their defense is good enough to produce wins in the best conference in football.
Going into the fall, the Gators will have a quarterback duel between Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, and though they're offense has questions heading into the season, they're defense is stacked with talent.
Remind you of last year's SEC Champions?
Led by two of the better linebackers in the league in Jelani Jenkins and Jonathan Bostic, the Gators defense is undoubtedly the strength of the team.
Add in key players like Shariff Floyd to the defensive line and Matt Elam to the secondary combined with Will Muschamp's savvy defensive schemes, and you've got yourself a scary unit. Florida's arch rival could be making a return to glory as well.
Tennessee should be taken seriously in 2012 because of two words: Tyler Bray.
I'm extremely high on Bray, as he showed before getting injured in 2011 that he is capable of producing big numbers.
In five games, Bray passed for 1,579 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions, but then he injured his thumb against Georgia and was out for five straight games.
With a healthy Bray, healthy Justin Hunter and returning Da'Rick Rogers, the Volunteers offense should be scary good in 2012.
The only thing to worry about really is the defensive side of the ball.
So luring opponents into a shootout will work in the Vols favor.
Heck, with Bray gun-slinging, Tennessee might be able to overcome its mediocre defense.
But what about the SEC West?
The Auburn Tigers are no stranger to surprises.
Thought to be an average team at best in 2010, Cam Newton led the Tigers to an undefeated season, SEC Championship and BCS National Championship.
But there's no sign of Newton walking through the door anytime soon, so Auburn will have to make do with what they have.
What they will have in 2012 is a more experienced team with weapons all over the football field.
Onterio McCalebb, Emory Blake and Phillip Lutzenkirchen will be the Tigers best offensive weapons, while Corey Lemonier, Daren Bates and T'Sharvan Bell will hold down the defense.
Considering the Tigers will have to play Clemson, LSU, Alabama and Arkansas, it'll be a walk in the park by no means, but who knows? Maybe Auburn has another surprise up their sleeve.
And speaking of Tigers, how will the new Tigers in the SEC fair in 2012?
Let's be honestónot many of us are giving Missouri a chance in the SEC.
Expectations for Missouri in the conference next season are that the Tigers are going to get manhandled. They're in over the head, but that should make Missouri fans excited.
You see, they can easily fly under the radar and pick up wins behind their talented quarterback, James Franklin, as an underdog.
And it's not like this team doesn't pose threats. Franklin threw for 2,865 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 touchdowns in 2011, and though it wasn't against SEC defenses week-in and week-out, those are still impressive numbers.
They also have one of the more impressive cornerbacks in the league in E.J. Gaines. Gaines was named First Team All-Big 12 after recording 69 tackles, two interceptions and 16 pass breakups in his sophomore season.
Entering the SEC, Missouri might be backed into a corner, but expect these Tigers to go down swinging, taking out a few predators along the way.
And what about a surprise team that really shouldn't be a surprise team at all.
Given everything that's happened this offseason Arkansas doesn't stand a chance without Bobby Petrino, or so everyone thinks.
When Petrino was fired from the university, the Razorbacks started to fall in the polls, and all of a sudden, fans weren't so high on the Hogs.
Yes, they lost their offensive orchestrator, but they still have enough talent to overcome the offseason woes.
The league's best quarterback in 2011, Tyler Wilson, returns for the Hogs, and though he doesn't have Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs by his side, he still has weapons.
Returning alongside Wilson is tight end Chris Gragg, wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and offensive lineman Alvin Bailey.
All three could be considered as one of the best at their position in the SEC.
So the sky isn't falling for Arkansas after all.
In fact, I'd say with the returning talent, these pigs could fly.
Jake Martin is a summer intern with the Sentinel. He is sports editor for the Nicholls Worth and a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.
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