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HOW THEY'LL FINISH
This is an article from the Aug. 20, 2007 issue
Conferencechampionship game: Dec. 1 in Atlanta LSU over Florida
PLAYERS TO WATCH Top performers from unranked teams in the conference
Tony Burks, WRMISSISSIPPI STATE
The 6' 4'',217-pound senior averaged an SEC-best 24.3 yards a catch on 35 receptions in2006 and should improve in his second season with the Bulldogs' West Coastattack.
Jonathan Goff, LBVANDERBILT
A two-yearcaptain, Goff has started 27 straight games. Last year he led the Commodores intackles, with 93, and he ranks third among active SEC players, with 194 careerstops.
Blake Mitchell,QB SOUTH CAROLINA
After a midseasonbenching that lasted seven games, Mitchell, now a senior, ended 2006 on a roll,throwing for four touchdowns in a victory over Houston in the Liberty Bowl.
Andre Smith, LTALABAMA
The 6' 4'',348-pound sophomore, who started every game as a true freshman, possesses arare combination of power and quickness and is arguably the Crimson Tide's bestplayer.
André Woodson, QBKENTUCKY
Woodson, a 6'5", 230-pound senior, completed 63.0% of his passes for 3,515 yards and 31touchdowns last season as the Wildcats led the SEC in passing offense.
BEST OFFENSIVEPLAYER Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas The junior, who ran for 1,647 yards in'06, enters the season as the Heisman favorite.
BEST DEFENSIVEPLAYER Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU The top interior lineman in the country, Dorseywas a big reason that LSU allowed only 97.1 yards rushing a game lastseason.
TRUE FRESHMAN TOWATCH Eric Berry,
CB, Tennessee The5' 11'' 195-pounder was named the top cornerback in his class by rivals.com andscout.com.
COACH ON THE RISELes Miles, LSU He's stockpiling talent with back-to-back, top five recruitingclasses.
COACH ON THE HOTSEAT Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State If Croom, 9-25 in three years, doesn'thave a winning season with 14 starters returning, he'll probably be canned.
SLEEPER AlabamaThe Tide has 14 starters back, and Nick Saban gets Arkansas, Georgia, Tennesseeand LSU at home.
The SEC assistantwho could have the biggest impact this season is MAJOR APPLEWHITE, the newoffensive coordinator at Alabama. As a grad assistant at Texas, he tutoredVince Young, and he's now working with junior JOHN PARKER WILSON, who threw for2,539 yards and completed 57.2% of his passes last year. . . . Barring injury,Vanderbilt wideout EARL BENNETT should become the SEC's alltime leadingreceiver this season. Only a junior, Bennett has 161¬†receptions, 47 shy ofthe record held by Kentucky's Craig Yeast. . . . With 18 of 22 starters back,STEVE SPURRIER believes the third year of his tenure at South Carolina will bespecial. "We're not far off," he says. At both of his previous collegestops (Duke and Florida), Spurrier won a conference championship by the end ofhis third season. But history isn't with him: The Gamecocks have won oneconference title (the ACC, in 1969) in their 113-year history.