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Cloverbelt Credit Union present a Review/Preview of the SEC East Division!

Cloverbelt Credit Union was originally organized by local farmers who found it difficult to obtain financial support elsewhere. Needing an outlet through which they could borrow money as well as a savings headquarters, the credit union was born. CCU’s Articles of Incorporation were signed on October 23, 1935 and we officially opened for business on January 2, 1936. By the end of the year, assets totaled just $454.00 and the credit union had only 38 members.

Things have changed dramatically in the years since CCU first opened for business. Up until 1939, CCU served primarily farmers. But in that year, membership grew with the Cloverbelt Cooperative’s entrance into the fuel oil business, which meant it’s city customers could join too.

Today, membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Marathon, Lincoln, Wood, Portage, Clark, Langlade, Shawano and Taylor counties and membership has grown to over 17,000 people.

With a remarkable history behind them, exciting opportunities ahead, and the continued support and trust of our many valued members, CCU can look to the future with strength and confidence!

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Georgia, as expected, rolled through the SEC East with a perfect, 6-0 record. However, it was not without its challenges, they struggled with Missouri, winning 26-22 and at Kentucky, beating the Wildcats, 16 to 6! UGA hosted the 2nd best team in the East, Tennessee, who scored 1st and lead 3-0, the Dawgs then scored 21 unanswered points, taking 21-3 lead. The teams traded FG leaving UGA up 24 UT 6 @ halftime. The Vols outplayed Georgia in the final 2 quarters, holding Georgia’s high power offense to a 3rd Quarter FG, while scoring a 4th quarter TD: UGA 27 Volunteers 13! These teams are on a collusion course in 2023, this time the game will be @ Knoxville’s, Neyland Stadium! Georgia did blast South Carolina, 48-7, Vandy, 55-0, & Florida, 42-20 on their way to winning the East Division!

The SEC East has been the ‘little brother’ of the SEC West Division, until … finally, in 2022, the East won 9 of the 15 cross division games. The SEC plays 15 cross-over games annually, one permanent opponent, one rotating team, and the Division championship game. The East Division vs the West Division, in rotating games (the 2020 season was the Covid-19 year and is not factored here as the schedule was an anomaly) over the remaining 4 years (2018, 19, 21, 22). Here are the Rotating game results; (UGA is 3-1, UT 3-1, SC 2-2, UK 2-2, UF 3-1, MU 1-3, Vandy 0-4). So no dominance is displayed by the West, the 28 games were split 14 apiece! In fact, given my thoughts going into the evaluation, the results were surprising! In the permanent rivalries (we counted 2020 season): Bama is 4-1 vs Tennessee; LSU is 4-1 vs Florida; Ole Miss vs Vanderbilt, 4-1; Arkansas is 1-4 vs Missouri; Auburn is 0-5 vs UGA; Mississippi State is 2-3 vs Kentucky, & Texas A&M is 4-1 vs South Carolina (East 16 wins West 19 wins). Finally, in the SEC Championship Games, UGA has won 1, beat LSU in 2022, 50-30 & lost 3, Bama in 2018, 35-28, again in 2021, 41-24, & LSU in 2019, 37-10. In 2020, Florida lost a wild SEC Championship game to Bama, 52-46! In SEC Title Games, the East Division in 1-4 in the last 5 years. With-in the five year parameters established here, the East trails the West in these cross-over tilts, 31-37, meaning the East has a 46% chance to beat the West on any given Saturday!

In an earlier Blog, SCFP thought that the B-10 East was a better division than the SEC’s version of East! This turned out to not be the case. The results here were equally eye-opening, as the East proved itself a lot more formattable vs the West then is often depicted in/by the media.

Georgia, is now widely regarded as the SEC best team, winning two straight SEC Titles & CFP championships. A reasonable conclusion: UGA is the SEC best team. Yet, lets take a closer look at the team that they have supposedly dethroned (Alabama) and how they have done with The Tide in head-to head games! Here are the results of the last 7 times these teams met on the gridiron! Dec. 1, 2012: Bama 32 UGA 28; Oct. 3, 2015: Bama 38 UGA 10; Jan. 8, 2018 (2017 Season): Alabama 26 Georgia 20; Dec. 1, 2018: The Tide 35 the Dawgs 28; Oct. 17, 2020: Alabama 41 Georgia 24 ; Dec. 4, 2021: Bama 41 UGA 24; (same score not a misprint) & Jan. 10, 2022: UGA 33 Bama 18! In the last 7 games, Alabama has won 6 and Saban is 4-1 vs Smart. The teams have played for the SEC Title twice, in the past 5 years, Alabama won both times & they also met for the CFP Championship twice, with the teams splitting the games! So what dominance has UGA established when it kicks it off vs Alabama? Further, given the relative strength of the respective divisions, Bama has a tougher ‘Row to Hoe’ in winning the West, then UGA has to claim the East’s top spot! So while Georgia’s Accomplishments have put them on a path to claim the SEC top spot, given their struggles with Alabama on the field, they are not there yet! All that said, this year the East will, in all likelihood, come down to the Nov.18 meeting, in Knoxville, between Georgia & Tennessee!

7. Missouri: The Tigers return 15 starters, 7* on O & 8 on D, (* means including QB), Mizzou’s QB, Brady Cook (2,724 Passing Yards, 64.7 completion rate, 14 TDs & 7 INTs) is back for 2023. This year, they draw LSU (SCFP favored to win the West) at home and are @, their permanent rival, Arkansas (where they have lost 3 straight). To make matters more difficult, winnable games vs Vandy (last year, MU survived at their home stadium, Faurot Field, 17-14) & Kentucky (lost last year to the Wildcats, @ home, 21-17) are both on the road! For the Tigers to get out of the cellar, they will need to find a way in, @ least, one of those two (2) Games. A win, @ home vs South Carolina (Oct. 21) or Tennessee (Nov. 11), is unlikely. Mizzou did beat UGA in 2013, 41-26, yet until last year loss, 26-22, they have been manhandled by the Dawgs. A win in Athens is a long shot. However, Missouri is capable of making a bowl game in 2023, to do so, they must win 3 of their 4 of the Non-Conference (NC) games (Kansas State won the B-12 last year and will be difficult), and then find a way to win 3 SEC games to reach the 6 wins required for a Bowl game!

6. Vanderbilt: Most pre-season publications have Vandy in their usual position, dead last in the SEC East! At SCFP, we really like the Commodores 2023 schedule, they open, at home, with Hawaii, Alabama A&M, & @ Wake Forest (minus, QB, San Hartmann) all winnable games! Then play two (2) critical games (Missouri & Kentucky), in Nashville, that they must win, if they are get out of the East’s cellar. Their HC, Clark Lea, played at Vandy and is committed to the program’s growth to being, not only competitive with-in the SEC East Division, but rather a contender. Vandy was close to making a bowl in 2022, winning 5 games (six (6) wins are needed to be bowl eligible), while experiencing 3 close losses, @ Missouri, 17-14, @ Kentucky, 24-21, & Florida, 31-24! SCFP’s crystal Ball has Vanderbilt winning 6 games, moving out of the bottom of the East, & playing in a bowl game in 2023 season!

5. South Carolina: HC Shane Beamer is 15-11 in his 1st 2 years in Columbia. In the previous 3 years, SC had won a total of 13 games while losing 22 in that same time frame! Beamer has taken the Gamecocks to 2 straight bowl games, beating UNC, 38-21 and falling to ND, 45-38. In 2022, SC had some impressive wins, beat Texas A&M, 30-24, Tennessee, 63-38, & Clemson, 31-30, ending a 7 game losing slide to the Tigers! Beamer’s team has a tough opening to the 2023 season, playing UNC, in Charlotte, NC, @ UGA on Sept. 16, Mississippi State, in Colombia, on Sept. 23 (MSU has13 starters who are seniors, really rare for an SEC team), & @ Tennessee on Sept. 30! WOW! The Gamecocks have a BYE on Oct. 7 and then they play host to a Florida team (Oct. 14) looking for ‘bounce back’ in 2023! South Carolina ends its season with four (4) straight home games, which will ensure the Gamecocks making their 3rd bowl game in as many years!

4. Florida: Billy Napier, Florida HC, is entering his 2nd year at the school. Napier went 6-7 in his 1st year in Gainesville, with some impressive wins. These wins included beating Utah, 29-26 (who won the PAC 12, beat USC twice & played in the Rose Bowl), Texas A&M, 41-24, @ College Station and hammered South Carolina, 38-6, at home! Coach Napier, was 41-12 @ Louisiana, including a 13-1 slate in his final season (2021) with the Ragin Cajuns. Wisconsin fans will recognize the Gators’ starting QB, Graham Mertz (2,136 yards, 57.3% completion rate, 19 TDs, & 10 INT’s). Napier believes that many of the QB issues Mertz has had in his college career are related to poor footwork and believes that these issues can be remedied. We are going to find out quickly about Mertz being ‘fixed’, as Florida plays @ Utah and has Tennessee @ home in the 1st 3 weeks of 2023 season! The Gators’ schedule is always a challenge, as they play UGA (Jacksonville, FL), LSU, & FSU every year and often play P5 opponents, like Utah (the past two years) or a Miami as in 2019! FL has been to 5 straight bowl games and SCFP predict that this streak will continue into 2023!

3. Kentucky: Mark Stoops is entering his 11th year as Kentucky’s Head Football coach and has posted a 66-59 record. Coach Stoops passed Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant as the winningest FB coach in Kentucky history (It should be noted; Bryant was 60-23-5 in 8 years to Stoops, 66-59 in 11 years)! On SCFP, we have often stated, that in our view, other then Saban & now Smart, Stoops has done the next best job in the SEC! Kentucky returns 15 starters, (10* on O & 5 on D) including NC State transfer, QB, Devin Leary. In 2021, Leary passes for 3,433 yards, completed 66% of his passes, and had a Ratio of 35 TDs to 5 INTs! He played in only 6 games last year before a season-ending injury, to his pectoral muscle, in a, 19-17, win over FSU! This will be the 2nd year in a row that Stoops will have hit the transfer portal for his starting QB, as Leary will be replacing Penn State’s Will Levis (2,406 Passing Yards, 65.4% completion percentage, & a ratio of 19 TDs to 10 Picks)! At Running Back (RB), Vandy’s, Ray Davis (1,042 rushing yards, 5 TDs & 4.5 YPC) has entered the running back room, yet, he may not be as good as departing, Chris Rodriguez. Their top 5 receivers return for the 2023 season, led by Barton Brown (50 receptions for 628 yards, & 5 TDs) . They return 4 of 5 starters and may/will be the most improved O-line the SEC! On the D-line they return 2 fulltime starters, 4 with starting experience, & 8 who played in the rotation. By osmosis, the D-Line should be better! LB is a concern and while the secondary is inexperienced, they do have great size @ CB, JQ Hardaway is 6’3 & reserve Jordan Robinson is 6’4!

2. Tennessee: Last year, Tennessee, beat up on the SEC’s West Division ‘Bad Boys’. The Volunteers over-whelmed Bama’s defense, 52-49, and tamed the Bengal Tigers (LSU), 40-13! No small feat! Then came the inconsistency in the final 3 weeks of the season? They beat Mizzou, 66-24, lost to South Carolina, 63-38, and then pounded Vandy, 56-0! Joe Milton, began the season as the Vol’s QB, he was injured in the Pitt game and then comes Hendon Hooker (3,135 Passing Yards, 69.6% Completion Percentage, & a Ratio of 27-2). Hooker was the Offensive Player of the Year in the SEC!. However, Hooker was injured in the South Carolina game and back comes Joe Milton (971 Passing Yards, 64.6% Completion Percentage, & a Ratio of 10 TDs to 0 INTs) Hooker is gone yet, Milton returns! RB Jaylen Wright (875 Rushing Yards, 10 TDs, & 6.0 YPC) and Jabari Small (746 Rushing Yards, 13 TDs, & 4.7 YPC) are back as is, Dylan Sampson. UK’s RB room is loaded & ready to roll in 2023. WR Jalin Hyatt (1,267 Receiving Yards, 18.9 YPR, & 15 TDs) & Cedrick Tillman missed 7 games with injury, to understand his talent. here are his 2021 numbers (1081 Receiving Yards, 16.9 YPR, & 12 TDs), while the 2023 WR Room is talented, it simply does not have the same star power of recent years! The O-line returns 3 starters, led by Center, Cooper Mays. Phil Steele Preview & Athlon Sports both rank this unit as the 6th best O-Line in the SEC! While they lose significant talent on the D-Line, via the transfer portal and D-line injuries in 2022, they return 8 players with starting experience. This LB(ing) group is the weakest unit on their defense, that said, their #1 Tackler, MLB, Aaron Beasley, returns. The secondary loses only FS, Trevon Flowers and should be an improved unit in 2023! People who think this team can’t beat UGA in 2023, you should ask Bama (beat Georgia 6 of the last 7), whose vaunted defense could not stop the Tennessee offense or LSU (Who lost to the Vols, 40-13 {-27} while falling to Georgia 50-30 {-20}), if they think that Tennessee can play with and/or beat Georgia? The SEC East will likely come down to Nov. 18, in Knoxville, with the Game Day Crew ‘in the house’ & all of college football tuned in as Tennessee welcomes Georgia to Rocky Top!

1. Georgia: The Dawgs enter 2023 season with a chance to be the 1st team since the 1934, 1935, & 1936 Minnesota Golden Gophers, to win 3 straight National Championships. Their schedule is favorable to that end. Georgia plays its 1st 4 games @ Home (UT Martin, Ball State, South Carolina, & UAB) and so do not leave the state of Georgia, until they travel to Alabama, to take on Auburn, on Sept. 30. Their other divisional crossover game is with Ole Miss, meaning they avoid, Alabama, LSU. & Texas A&M during the regular season. UGA returns 13 starters (7 on offense & 6 on defense), yet they lose their QB, Stetson Bennett and top runner, Kenny McIntosh. It is likely, that sophomore, Carson Beck (6’4 215) will win the QB job and Kendall Milton (593 rushing yards, 3 TD, & 7.0 YPC) will replace McIntosh as the featured runner. They return their 2 leading receivers, TE, Brock Burrows (63 receptions for 942 yards, 7 TDs, & 15.0 YPC) and Ladd McConkey (58 receptions for 782 yards, 7 TDs & 13.1 YPR). On the O-line, UGA has 3 starters back and 10 other, 4 or 5 stars, ready to step into the other 2 spots. Athlon Sports ranks Georgia offense line as the best in the country. On defense, the Dawgs play a 3-4 and return 2 of their 3 starters up front and 3 of their 4 starting LBs are back for 2023. In all likelihood, their front 7 will be as productive as they were in 2022 (allowing just 77 rushing yards per game while adding 35 QB sacks). Their secondary lost their 2 best players (AA Safety, Chris Smith & 2nd team all SEC CB, Kelee Ringo). They were torched in 2 of their 3 final games in 2022, LSU’s Jayden Daniels & Garrett Nussmeier passed for 502 yards in the SEC Championship game and Ohio state’s CJ Stroud ‘lit them up’ for 348 yards in the CFP semi-final. This is their weakest unit on D and will be tested given the difficulty to run the ball vs this defense! In 2023, Georgia will not be tested, from a talent perspective, until they travel to Nashville, to take on Tennessee. This is where Georgia’s 2023 season will get ‘Rocky’!

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