SEC to be back in Sugar again

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 16, 1999

The Sugar Bowl and the Southeastern Conference always seemed to go hand in hand when all the bowl games were played on New Year’s Day. Looking at the state of college football the past few years, there’s no reason to believe the two will get together this season again.

The Sugar Bowl hosts the national championship game this season.

Tennessee and Florida has produced two of the last three national champions and there are plenty of reasons to believe that those two schools will be in the race again.

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But you can bet up-and-coming Georgia will be breathing heavy down their backs this season.

In the SEC West, Arkansas will be looking to build on its impressive ’98 season. And remember the name Cedric Cobbs for the future. This big freshman running back ran a 4.3 on the first day of practice.

Alabama would have been a team to watch before Mike DuBose turned Tuscaloosa into Peyton Place and has everybody connected with the Tide up in arms.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State will continue knocking on the door and who knows what will happen down at LSU.

I don’t expect a repeat in Knoxville, but I didn’t expect the Vols to go unbeaten last year either. Tee Martin returns at quarterback (or as the bumper sticker says &uot;It’s Tee Time in Tennessee.&uot;)

The return of running back Jamal Lewis, who missed all of last year with an injury, should take even more pressure off of Tee.

Unfortunately for the Volunteeers, the schedule will be a little tougher this time around. (Can an SEC schedule get tougher?) Road games at Florida, Alabama, and Arkansas are joined on the schedule by visits from Georgia and Notre Dame.

I can only think of one thing that would infuriate Steve Spurrier more than not winning the SEC. And that’s Tennessee winning the conference and national title.

Spurrier works wonders with teams not picked to win championships. Watch out.

With all the toughest games at home, the Gators would be set to make a run at SEC and even national titles if they were more experienced. But don’t count them out yet.

Look for Georgia to go to a bowl game around New Year’s Day. An inexperienced offense in the SEC does not a championship make. But quarterback Quincy Carter is fun to watch.

Arkansas has a lot to prove, and especially quarterback Clint Stoerner, who could have thrown for 600 yards in one game but all everyone is going to talk about is his fumble against Tennessee.

Alabama returns Shaun Alexander, but the first defeat will have Tide fans calling for DuBose’s head.

Watch Romero Miller thrive under David Cutcliffe at Ole Miss. Early momentum could make them the Razorbacks of 1999.

Close games were a huge problem last season for LSU who lost four games by a total of 13 points, and a fifth game in overtime. The Tigers should be back in the bowling picture this year.

Mississippi State surprised everyone by winning the West last year and played Tennessee tough for the SEC championship. Jackie Sherrill should add another bowl game to his impressive resume.

Auburn won’t make any waves this year, but the most fun will come when the Tigers host Ole Miss in October. We need a name like &uot;Payback on the Plains&uot; and put it on Pay Per View. I wonder if Dennis Rodman will be busy that week?