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Around the SEC - Western Division Preview

Second verse, same as the first.

Coach Saban does not approve of my gumping.
Coach Saban does not approve of my gumping.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Home sweet home. The problem I had with the SEC West is that Arkansas is bad and everyone else is hard to evaluate.

Texas A&M will be down this year without serious improvement from the defense. Both Mississippi schools have a lot of shiny parts, but I feel like we say that every year will finally be their year and then we look foolish when we're wrong. Auburn is scary. LSU has the hype machine pumping overtime, but a lot of the hype surrounds recruits and guys who have yet to see significant time.

As for Bama? I can see us going undefeated...and I can see us hoping to get a 10th win in the bowl game. This prediction contains a healthy dose of Gump.

Arkansas Razorbacks (4-8, 1-7 SEC)

This still isn't a good team, but they should be better than last year. The Hogs have a great opportunity to give Bielema his first SEC win before the end of September - at a neutral site against a Texas A&M defense that leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately for Arkansas, their schedule is backloaded - featuring Alabama and Georgia back to back in October, then consecutive dates with LSU and Ole Miss in November.

Wins: Nicholls State, Northern Illinois, vs. Texas A&M, UAB

Losses: @Auburn, @Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia, @Mississippi State, LSU, Ole Miss, @Mizzou

Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4 SEC)

I don't have much to contribute to the analysis of these Bulldogs, so I'll instead pose a question - why on earth are they going to play at South Alabama?

Wins: Southern Miss, UAB, @South Alabama, Auburn, @Kentucky, Arkansas, UT-Martin, Vanderbilt

Losses: @LSU, Texas A&M, @Alabama, @Ole Miss

Mississippi Rebels (8-4, 4-4 SEC)

The Rebels should hold their own this year. They have a bit of a dark horse flavor, but I'm tired of saying that about them and being disappointed. As for their schedule, this is not the Boise State you're looking for, which helps their out of conference slate look very manageable.

Wins: Boise State, @Vanderbilt, UL-Lafayette, Memphis, Tennessee, Presbyterian, @Arkansas

Losses: Alabama, @Texas A&M, @LSU, Auburn

Texas A&M Aggies (7-5, 3-5 SEC)

Expect less money (gesturing, that is) and more problems out of College Station this year. Manziel is gone, and so are his favorite receiver and his best blocker. The offense needs a face lift, and since they've also worked as life support for the defense in recent years, I sense trouble for the Aggies. However, I'm giving them the edge in a late contest over LSU - this is one of my boldest predictions in the West, but weirder things have happened.

Wins: Lamar, Rice, @SMU, @Mississippi State, Ole Miss, ULM, LSU

Losses: @South Carolina, vs. Arkansas, @Alabama, @Auburn, Missouri

LSU Tigers (9-3, 5-3 SEC)

I'm not sure what to make of this team. The Tigers seem to have underachieved last year, and they lost a lot of key contributors. Leonard Fournette should help their offense out but I don't know that the team will be settled enough to win early games at Auburn and at Florida.

Wins: vs. Wisconsin, Sam Houston St, ULM, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Alabama, @Arkansas

Losses: @Auburn, @Florida, @Texas A&M

Auburn Tigers (9-3, 5-3 SEC)

Auburn should be scary again. Giving the edge to Clanga in Starkville, because recently that game has been the West's approximation of the cocktail party in Jacksonville.

Wins: Arkansas, San Jose State, @Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, LSU, South Carolina, @Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Sanford

Losses: @Mississippi State, @UGA, @Alabama

Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1 SEC, SEC West Champions)

The QB situation is about as clear as mud, the offensive line is uncertain at best, and the secondary is kind of scary. But the closer you get to something, the more obvious the flaws are. The Tide could go undefeated and I wouldn't be too surprised, but Baton Rouge is a tough place to play, and I can't pick Les Miles to lose a fourth straight to Saban.

Wins: vs. West Virginia, Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, Florida, @Ole Miss, @Arkansas, Texas A&M, @Tennessee, Mississippi State, Western Carolina, Auburn

Loss: @LSU