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Iron Bowl will decide SEC West

All will be right with the world this year. Well, maybe not the world but at least the Southeastern Conference’s West Division. The return to sanity will come in the form of the Iron Bowl deciding the division.

Not many people would be surprised by a 10-2 Auburn team because the Tigers will have a good team and play a favorable schedule, but a 10-2 Alabama team will really get the state talking. The Crimson Tide offense, with a consistency it hasn’t displayed since Shaun Alexander was running behind Chris Samuels, will win a few big games, such as at Georgia and at LSU.

New Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin will have an inexperienced quarterback and won’t have lots of playmakers, but his scheme will catch the conference off guard and provide a perfect complement to coach Tommy Tuberville’s reliably stingy defense.

Last year, I picked LSU to win the Southeastern Conference’s West Division in spite of coach Les Miles. I took a shot at Miles and still question where he ranks among the top SEC coaches because his ultra-talented squads have managed to lose two games in each of his first three years on the job.

Sure, the Tigers are coming off a national championship, but they still lost two games. This year’s team will be Miles’ worst since he took over, especially with quarterback Ryan Perrilloux kicked off the team. If LSU lost two games last year with two good quarterbacks, how many will the Tigers lose with zero good QBs? I say four, bad enough for fourth in the division.

If LSU will be the conference’s disappointment, Ole Miss will be the surprise. I like the solid talent former coach Ed Orgeron brought to campus combined with the motivational ability of new coach Houston Nutt. Look for the Rebels to win five conference games, including one over Auburn.

Don’t fret though, Auburn fans, because your team’s seventh consecutive win over Alabama will set the Tigers up with a rematch against Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game. Tennessee matches up well with Auburn because the Volunteers’ power running game can gash the small, fast Auburn defense. The Vols will defeat the Tigers twice, enough to become the third different conference team in the last three years to play for a national championship.