SEC Media Preseason Poll
All-SEC Preseason Team - Coaches
All-SEC Preseason Team - Media
The big question, of course, is whether or not the SEC can make it 6 BCS titles in a row. The answer is that the conference will be represented, but will be a slight underdog in the game itself.
The Congrove Computer Rankings forecast an Oklahoma-Alabama championship game with the Sooners favored by a mere 0.54 points. The Crimson Tide get there by surviving the regular season unscathed and then dispatching South Carolina by 10.99 points in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. The Tide and Gamecocks do not meet this year in the regular season.
'Bama will have to get by LSU, though, and the Tigers are only 4.69-point underdog in Tuscaloosa on November 5th. Nick Saban's team is also just a 7.39-point pick at Mississippi State the following week.
LSU's chances for a national title run may have taken a hit, just days before the season kicks off, with the suspensions of QB Jordan Jefferson and WR Russell Shepard in separate incidents. It is unclear how long either suspension could last. The Bayou Bengals have a solid backup QB in senior Jarrett Lee who had a better TD-interception ratio than Jefferson, and a higher completion percentage. The difference is in each QB's style of play - Jefferson is a dual-threat QB who was the teams' 2nd-leading rusher last year, while Lee is a dropback passer.
Arkansas is lying in wait for both the Tide and Tigers to slip up. The Hogs are picked to go 9-3 with their only losses coming on the road to Alabama, Texas A&M (at Arlington) and LSU.
The 9-3 forecast for Mississippi State is the best preseason projection ever given the Bulldogs in the 19-year history of the Congrove Computer Rankings. The team has reached 9 regular season wins just once since the CCR's inception in 1993 and that came in 1999 when it went 9-2.
Other computer "firsts" in this season's forecast include a 10-2 projection for South Carolina, representing the best preseason projection ever given the Gamecocks.
Conversely, the 6-6 forecast given to Georgia is the worst preseason projection ever given the Bulldogs. And a 1-11 forecast ties for the worst preseason projection ever given to Vanderbilt. It also picked last year's squad to go 1-11.
Overall, the computer sees 10 SEC teams qualifying for the bowl season with only Vandy and Ole Miss being left out of the party.
Georgia barely makes it, however, with a 6-6 forecast that would likely spell the end of Mark Richt's job as head coach. And Florida limps in at 7-5 in the first year of the hybrid Will Muschamp-Charlie Weis experiment.
Vanderbilt is the only other SEC team to make a head coaching change in the offseason. The Commodores hired James Franklin away from Maryland where he was the head coach-in-waiting.
Last year's national champions, Auburn, barely gets qualified for the postseason with a 6-6 record, along with Tennessee.
If the computer's forecast of a 7-5 season for Kentucky holds true, it would be the 6th straight year that the Wildcats completed a regular season with a record of either 6-6 or 7-5.