OK, we all know who the big dog is. And we all know who the contenders are as well as those trying to become contenders, but what about the teams at the bottom of the nation's toughest conference?
Well, the best conference in the land deserves several features. Today we examine the teams that were the worst in the SEC in 2012. Of the five worst teams in the SEC from 2012, four have new coaches. I’m telling you, four of these five teams that I have reviewed for you could go to bowl games this season! Here we go!
Kentucky Wildacats (2-10)- The UK Cats from Lexington were a dismal 2-10 a season ago. The Kentucky program made tremendous strides under former Coach Rich Brooks, and Brooks and then-OC Joker Phillps built a solid foundation. But that foundation has been leveled and now new coach Mark Stoops has the tough task of cleaning things up. After five straight bowl games (2006-2010) Kentucky has failed to be in a bowl in the last two seasons. Joker Phillips was shown the door and Stoops is now in charge. The good thing is that Kentucky has 14 returning starters back this season. The bad thing is that the Wildcats are still the worst team in the league right now. Stoops will breathe new life into the Cats but anything above six wins this season to me would be wishful thinking.
Auburn Tigers (3-9) - The other Cats from the Western side in the SEC were also 0-fer in SEC play with a 0-8 mark in 2012. Gus Malzahn returns and Auburn fans are hoping that Gus brings back the offensive style like the Tigers had in 2009 and 2010. Auburn has talent and the cupboard is not bare, but Auburn has some big strides to make to get back to the place they were three years ago. I would not at all be shocked if the Tigers are 3-0 when they go to LSU in late September. Going into 2013 I would place Auburn right at the 6-6 mark and a bowl game is likely.
Missouri Tigers (5-7) - Gary Pinkel talked the talked going into the 2012 season. But, his Tigers did not walk the walk. Missouri found that life in the SEC is tougher than it looks. If there is one team in the East that can start as hot as anyone in the conference it very well could be Missouri. With the return of QB James Franklin and coming off an embarrassing season, I think the Tigers can also be a bowl team in 2013. A 5-0 start is certainly possible, and if that happens the Tigers should be a bowl team.
Arkansas Razorbacks (4-8) - The Hogs also have a new man in the old school power running attack style coach Bret Bielema. Bielema should be able to come in and fix some of the Hogs problems right away.
Like Missouri and Auburn, Arkansas has a schedule that sets up well in the first month of the season. If the Hogs can get off to a good start I think they can be on par for a bowl bid this season. Call me crazy, but with a little luck the Hogs could be a perfect 4-0 when the Aggies come to Ar-Kansas in late September!
Tennessee Volunteers (5-7) – I think we would all agree that the Tennessee Football program is one that should never have a losing season. This program has excellent facilities and one of the best home venues in all of sports.
Now, the Volunteer nation has a new leader and they are excited. Former Cincinnati Coach Butch Jones is now the head man in good ole rocky top! Tennessee has a tough schedule but getting to six wins this season is an obtainable goal. 13 starters are back with the strength of the team being defense. Eight starters are back on defense for the Vols this season. Tennessee should be 3-2 after their first five and if they can squeeze out three more wins in their final seven games, the Vols will go back to a bowl.
Did you know that only two football programs in FBS history have never lost eight games in a season? And did you know that Tennessee is one of those programs? Ohio State is the other!
Next time I'll take a look at the contenders in the SEC!