In just a few days, the Mississippi State Bulldogs will begin their 2013 campaign in a neutral site contest against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. With the start of a new season, hope either springs eternal or pessimism reigns supreme.
The Good: The Bulldogs made it through fall camp relatively unscathed. Yes, they picked up a few injuries along the way, but for the most part, the team looks to enter the 2013 season healthy. Looking at the depth chart, several players looked to develop enough to hang on to the starting jobs they were projected to take from the original fall depth chart.
The Bad: Mississippi State's schedule again sets up to be a brutal finish down the stretch. If Mississippi State can pick up a win against Oklahoma State, the Bulldogs could run out to a nice winning streak. However, if the end of the season was a flight, the captain would turn on the buckle seat belts sign.
The Ugly: Mississippi State swooned to end the season. Fans have had an offseason to contemplate whether or not Tyler Russell should still be the quarterback or if Dan Mullen should switch to Dak Prescott. Others have had emotional breakdowns over Ole Miss's recruiting class of 2013 and now wait on the edge of their seat for news out of the Chris Jones investigation. Let's just say it is nice that the ugliness of the offseason is coming to a close.
SEC FAST FORWARD
North Carolina at No. 6 South Carolina: In the game that kicks off the SEC season, the Gamecocks host the Tar Heels in what should be a victory for South Carolina. The Ole Ball Coach has a lot of things going his way in 2013, and this may be the season that South Carolina has a chance to challenge for the SEC crown.
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt: Vandy has had the Rebels' number the past few seasons, and this is a big game for both squads. Both teams want to prove they can win in the SEC, and they want to keep their momentum from a good season in 2012 rolling. For Ole Miss, this is a game they need to win to finish in the top half of the SEC West.
Toledo at No. 10 Florida: Last year, Florida played amazing defense but bowling shoe ugly offense. They also got a bit of a scare in the lid-lifter against Bowling Green. That does not happen this season.
RIce at No. 7 Texas A&M: There is not a team in the SEC more ready to get to the season than the Aggies. Once his production on the field starts, the talk about Johnny Manziel and his autographs can go away.
Mississippi State vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State (Houston, Tex.): This is a litmus test for both squads. Mississippi State wants to prove they can hang with and beat top teams. Oklahoma State wants to prove they are a top team and worth contender in the Big 12. This is a big game for both squads to open the season.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas: Bret Bielema kicks off his Arkansas career at home. It will be interesting to see how much the Razorbacks have changed with their third head coach in a year.
No. 1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta, Geo.): How good is the Crimson Tide? The Hokies are opening as much as a 20.5 point underdog to the defending national champions. Virginia Tech has not been that lowly regarded against a foe in over 20 years. Alabama on the other hand has been favored in every game since the 2009 SEC championship. (for more)
Austin Peay at Tennessee: Here it is--the Ho-Hum SEC Opener. Butch Jones should start his tenure with a win over the overmatched Governors.
Washington State at Auburn: The Tigers have a familiar face and offense coming back to The Plains this season. In a rare Pac-12-SEC matchup, look for Auburn to pick up a win against Washington State.
Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (Nashville, Tenn.): I have not yet figured out why the good people of Nashville are being subjected to this game, but they are. Bobby Petrino gets a shot at revenge against the SEC, while the Wildcats are starting a new era in their program.
Murray State at Missouri: If there is one coach that cannot afford an upset in the season opener, it is Gary Pinkle at Missouri. He should not have much to worry about against the Racers.
No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson: This has to be the marquee matchup of the opening weekend. Two teams that view themselves as contenders in their conference and contenders for a national championship are facing each other. One of these teams can quiet doubters with a win while the other might see their national championship hopes land on life support to open the season.
No. 12 LSU vs. No. 20 TCU (Dallas, Tex.): In a game that should be exciting just because of Gary Patterson's comments about the way Les Miles has handled some discipline, the Tigers and Horned Frogs square off in another SEC-Big 12 matchup in Jerry's World.
AWARDS TIME: A way too premature guess on some year ending awards
SEC Offensive Player of the Year: Barring a season ending suspension, Johnny Manziel should again be the most productive offensive player in the SEC.
SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Jadeveon Clowney has an amazing amount of hype following him into the 2013 season. It says here that he backs it up to be the SEC's defensive player of the year.
Heisman Trophy Winner: A. J. McCarron has improved each season as the quarterback for Alabama. With the Tide set to play in their third national title game when the award is given, McCarron will become the second Alabama player to win the Heisamn.
SEC Power Rankings: Where do the teams stand today?
- Texas A&M
- South Carolina
- Ole Miss
- Mississippi State
SEC Standings: A guess as to how everyone will finish
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
- Ole Miss
SEC Championship: Alabama over Georgia
National Championship: Alabama over Ohio State